At the first event in Canada in two years, a team of Saint Lucia travel pros welcomed the trade at a glittering event at lakefront Hotel X in Toronto.
Saint Lucia has long been known as one of the most romantic islands in the Caribbean. With stunning views, secluded coves, intimate restaurants and a pleasing, upscale vibe, it’s a top choice for couples from the US, Europe and Canada.
And the islanders are so happy to welcome Canadians back. “We miss you guys!” Lorine Charles-St. Jules, the CEO of Saint Lucia’s Tourism Authority told a media group at a cocktail reception Thursday 09JUN. The occasion was to welcome some 60 travel agents and tour operators and to showcase a select handful of the island’s resorts. And to remind us that the welcome to the island will be warmer than ever.
This summer there is weekly service on WS from YYZ to UVF, to be joined in the fall by AC (02OCT) and WG (05NOV). On 01APR, the island lifted all COVID-related entry restrictions.
Suzanne Fleming, BDM Canada for Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa and Serenity at Coconut Bay assured me that summer is no longer off season as the properties, known for their spaciousness and romantic plunge pools, fill up quickly.
Elaine Carnegie, President of Canlink, which represents Anse Chastanet Resort and Jade Mountain, pointed out that what used to be a bucket list trip is now way more common, with clients thinking “I’m not going to wait for retirement or a special anniversary – I’m going to do it now. I’ve been waiting for 2 years to travel and I can’t wait!”
She also wants to alert agents to the fact that luxury clients, used to getting whatever high end product they want, should not hesitate to book as some dates even in 2023 are now sold out.
CJ Smith, Director of Sales, Canada for Unique Vacations, reminds agents that there are 3 Sandals properties on the island, each with its own vibe and just 15 minutes apart and offering full “Stay at 1, Play at 3” privileges including watersports, dining and more. A free shuttle is offered between the resorts.
When visitors aren’t canoodling, there’s a wealth of activities, from scuba diving and snorkelling (“Like being in an aquarium!” Carnegie told me) to hiking, biking, and kayaking. Loads of festivals are on the books too, including Carnival and the Jazz Festival.
And the islanders haven’t been sitting on their hands during COVID, which provided a burst of domestic tourism and the chance to examine its tourism proposition from top to bottom. Noting the trend for some travellers towards the smaller, quainter hotel experience, the CDP (“Collection des Petits”) is a group of small – 4 to 35 room – properties featuring a more intimate style of vacation.
The country is also developing a new community tourism initiative whereby individual villages are developing experiences to help tourists connect with the locals. “There are currently 4 villages partaking in a pilot project,” said Charles-St. Jules. “Visitors will be able to visit people in their home, take a cooking class, learn how to make pepper sauce – even try their hand at making rum!”
There’s a new, renewed vibe on the island, she added. “Please tell your clients to pack their bags and come down and see us!”