Antigua Touts Four Pillars of Destination: Yachts, Wellness, Romance and Culture
If you haven’t met Dean Fenton or Norrell Joseph yet,
you might soon: the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s U.S. director and sales and marketing manager are traveling the country to meet with travel advisors in 30 cities, alongside a series of training events designed to ramp up knowledge of the destination that advisors can use to pitch a Antigua and Barbuda trip to clients.
The sessions include updates on the twin-island nation’s hotels, attractions and other activities as the destination seeks to boost tourism arrivals to record levels in 2023/24.
Antigua and Barbuda also launched a new online travel advisors’ training program this year. The Antigua and Barbuda Specialist Training Program covers a wide range of topics and selling points of the destination through a series of learning modules, videos, written materials, and other educational opportunities. Travel advisors who complete the program will be certified as destination specialists and gain access to marketing and promotional materials and perks for themselves and their clients. Antigua and Barbuda’s recently revised Rewards and Incentive program features bonus commissions, gift cards, branded merchandise for advisors and their clients, and FAM trip opportunities.
A new tourism campaign highlights the fact that travelers can experience both Antigua and Barbuda during a visit, with ambassadors from both islands extolling their virtues.
“The unifying message behind the campaign is “Why choose when you can have the best of both islands?’ Visitors to Antigua are reminded that our sister-island Barbuda is only minutes away, and that both offer visitors two unique experiences in one vacation,” said Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez.
During the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC), held in October in Turks & Caicos, Fernandez and Fenton emphasized four pillars of Antigua & Barbuda’s tourism industry: yachting, wellness, romance, and culture and heritage.
Antigua and Barbuda is known as the yachting capital of the Caribbean, with the historic Nelson’s Dockyard recently achieving UNESCO World Heritage status, Fernandez noted. The island also is the only destination in the Caribbean with no residency requirements for couples looking for a destination wedding, and celebrates each June as “Romance Month” with a special “Love Lane” fast-track through the airport for couples.
On the cultural front, Antigua and Barbuda hosted its first Restaurant Week in May, with prix fixe menus available at more than 30 restaurants, along with an “Eat Like a Local” interactive map as a guide. A Food Passport offered rewards to those who dined at multiple restaurants.
A Wave of Hotel Openings
The adults-only all-inclusive Royalton CHIC Antigua is set to open its doors in April 2024, part of a strong slate of new and refurbished hotels on the island. The new Royalton CHIC is part of the Blue Diamond Resorts collection and is located on Antigua’s northwest coast, about 20 minutes from the island’s international airport. The 235-room resort will feature an on-site rum shop, spa, seven restaurants, five bars, and an entertainment plaza with a theater for hosting live bands and other entertainers.
Elsewhere, some of Antigua’s most anticipated and iconic resorts are either opening or reopening after major facelifts. Curtain Bluffs, for example, is adding a new adults-only wellness area with a yoga pavilion, infinity pool, and jacuzzi. The resort’s Hulford Collection Suites (the Morris & Grace Bay Pool suites) and a selection of junior suites also will go through a complete refurbishment.
The Verandah Antigua will reopen in November as an adults-only all-inclusive resort; the resort, which previously welcomed families, will now limit stays to guests ages 16 and older. Enhancements to the property will include new furniture, artwork, and decor, new pickleball and tennis courts, the new Wavy Wicket sports bar, poolside cabanas, and renovations at the Tranquility Body & Soul Spa.
The Sandals Grande Resort plans to add 107 new guest rooms and also is seeking permits to construct overwater bungalows, according to tourism officials.
On Barbuda, the long-awaited Nobu resort is now expected to debut in 2024. The project, whose backers include actor Robert De Niro, debuted its signature restaurant and a beach club in 2022. The planned Nobu Beach Inn will include a resort hotel, spa, private residences, and an organic farm and nursery.
Elite Island Resorts, which operates five all-inclusive properties on Antigua as well as luxury resorts in Barbados, the Grenadines, and Panama, is offering significant rewards to clients who book repeat stays at its properties. The Elite Islands Loyalty Program includes discount rates and other perks for repeat guests by book vacations in advance. “We’ve seen a 25 percent increase in repeat business this year,” said Rob Barrett, chairman of Elite Island Resorts. “Our resorts thrive on repeat business, with many of our guests visiting resorts within the Elite portfolio several times a year. I want to ensure that our guests know just how appreciated and important they are to us and thank them with substantial savings on their island holidays.”