The island of Saint Lucia will soon welcome not one, but two new resort gems, courtesy of Apple Leisure Group subsidiary AMResorts. The company recently announced that it will be bringing two of its luxury, all-inclusive resort brands to the island in 2020, marking its entry into Saint Lucia. And although AMResorts isn’t saying yet how the new properties will be branded, buzz is already building for what’s to come. In this edition of Friday Five, we sit down with Javier Coll, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Apple Leisure Group, and Jan LaPointe, Vice President, Strategic Planning Retail Sales North America, AMRewards, Sales & Marketing Canada, to discuss the new venture.
1. How will these new resorts differ from others on the island?
Coll: The hotels will offer our signature vacation concepts, which are an elevated take on the traditional all-inclusive model. Also, as mentioned before, we will grow our distribution to Saint Lucia, which not only benefits our resorts but the island as whole.
2. How big of an impact will Canadians have on the new resorts?
LaPointe: Saint Lucia is considered a top-10 destination in terms of annual Canadian arrivals, because it appeals to niche markets and high-end travellers alike. As of September 2017, St. Lucia saw an increase of 11.4 percent YOY in arrivals of Canadian visitors, and has been growing steadily for the last five years (33,886 YTD).
Currently Saint Lucia only has 55 resorts and just over 4,000 rooms. The demand from Canada to the Caribbean has increased, and airlines are looking to add capacity to a variety of regions. New seat capacity to Georg F.L Charles Airport (SLU) would be a boom for the country, and Canadians are always seeking new experiences. This year, we saw a destination increase by 8.5%, and the new capacity being added to Saint Lucia will help the Canadian market grow over the coming years.
3. Saint Lucia has long been a top seller for other big hotel chains. Are you worried at all about the competition? And how does AMR plan on carving out its own niche on the island?
LaPointe: AMResorts has always been the leader in providing luxury accommodation, gourmet dining experiences and exceptional service. For years, from travel agents and customers alike, we’ve been asked to further expand our footprint to Caribbean destinations. The timing is right, the demand is growing, and we want to continue to help develop the country itself. With our own demand, loyal customers and agents will have fresh, exciting, new brands and resorts in the country. As we’ve seen in Jamaica, the island is ready for new true luxury product and service.
4. How important are Canadian travellers to the company? Approximately what percentage of total resort guests are Canadian on an annual basis?
LaPointe: Canada represents the largest market after the U.S. for AMResorts, and more travellers per capita come from Canada than anywhere else. In fact, while Canada’s population is approximately 9% of the U.S., its travellers represent close to 12% of all revenue to AMResorts.
5. The company is growing at a rapid pace. In addition to St. Lucia, where specifically is it focusing its expansion plans, and why?
Coll: We would like to be on every island in the Caribbean, but of course connectivity is an important driver of our decision on where to grow. If the connectivity is good and the airport facilities are able to operate flights directly from the U.S, we will have our ears and eyes open to find the right opportunity. Right now we are looking at destinations including Barbados, Antigua, Turks and Caicos, Bermuda and more, as well as looking at increasing our presence in Jamaica, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, etc.
For more information go to:travelweek.ca/news/amresorts-sets-sights-saint-lucia-2-new-hotels-opening-2020.