Sandals planning more agent fam trips this fall with four out of Canada

VANCOUVER — Sandals Resorts will sponsor 19 fam trips for agents to its Caribbean resorts starting this fall in September from Canada and the U.S.

Four fam trips will be out of Canada, said Andre Wade, director of travel industry relations. “Two will be from Toronto, one from Montreal and one from Calgary,” he said.

As well, Wade told travel agents attending a Sandals luncheon here only hours before the Stanley Cup playoffs June 13 that a combined fam of U.S. and Canadian agents will depart from Seattle this fall and will be a private charter flight with three days visiting Sandals properties.

Agents will visit Nassau (Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island), Great Exuma in the Bahamas (Sandals Emerald Bay) and Turks and Caicos (Beaches Resort & Spa in Providenciales).

Sandals founder and chairman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart attended the luncheon and said he wanted to see more Canadian agents visit the Sandals properties this fall and he extended the draw prize stays from three nights to five nights for winning travel industry representatives at the luncheon.

Stewart told those attending that his organization supports travel agents as its main sales staff. “We don’t do Expedia and we don’t undermine the agents,” he said, adding that Sandals is committed to providing a quality product that agents can earn commission from and sell with confidence.

“We provide a Luxury Included® vacation with more quality inclusions than any other resort under the sun,” he told agents. Sandals Resorts International is a leader in Caribbean tourism with 24 properties spanning five islands and four brands Sandals, Beaches, Grand Pineapple and Royal Plantation resorts. The Stewart family controls over $1 billion in assets including resorts, an appliance conglomerate and the Jamaica Observer newspaper.

Sandals is known for aggressively marketing its product with a full range of collateral for travel agents. Agents at the luncheon were told by Toronto-based Maureen Barnes-Smith, director of sales, that Sandals can provide signage for every occasion. “We have 32 different types of posters. We have invested in all the tools to drive the business to you,” she said.

In addition, Sandals will host 70 workshops this fall in Canada. Sandals sales reps will also visit every travel agent.

“We have been asked why we don’t go outside the Caribbean,” Garth Laird, Sandals’ director of trade industry programs told travel agents. “But, why go outside when we can bring different types of resorts to the Caribbean?”

Sandal’s opened the all-suite Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas last year, a property that offers butler service to guests in the 183 suites. The company also rebranded the Sandals Royal Plantation in 2010.

Sandals Resorts is also building the Caribbean’s first over-water suites with 26 units going in at its Sandals Grande St. Lucian resort. Scheduled to open in 2012, the units will provide more space than the average hotel suite and will have a private sitting room, folding doors and a glass floor that will allow for viewing fish.

Stewart told travel agents that Sandals is picking top partners to work with – Martha Stewart on weddings, Greg Norman for golf course design, Beringer on wine, Microsoft Xbox on electric gaming for kids and Sesame Street to employ characters such as Big Bird at the resorts.

For more information on fams, workshops or resorts, contacts your local Sandals representative.

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