OCHO RIOS, Jamaica — Sandals and Beaches resorts recognized and honoured all of the top performing travel agents from across the globe in the 13th annual STAR Awards, held at the Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort in Ocho Rios Jamaica last week.
It was a glamorous gala dinner with everyone on hand from the Sandals family including Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, and Adam Stewart, CEO & Deputy Chairman.
Also in attendance were the Jamaican Minister of Tourism, Dr. Kenneth Wykeham McNeill, Eamonn Ferrin, President & COO at Air Canada Vacations, and Tessanne Chin, winner of NBC’s The Voice, to provide the late night entertainment.
But, the agents were the real stars of the evening.
“As we celebrate our journey, more importantly, we celebrate you – the travel agent. We are aware that many of our successes are founded on the shoulders of the travel professional, and our love affair with agents is as vibrant as ever,” says Maureen Barnes–Smith, Director of Sales & Marketing, Unique Vacations Canada. “We recognize the travel agents at STAR Awards as the very best of the best Sandals and Beaches booking agencies worldwide and acknowledge that just by being here you’re already winners.”
There were agents from all over the world in attendance, with a strong contingency of 104 from Canada, including 89 agents and their partners. All awards presented were based on overall productivity on bookings made from Aug. 1 2013 to July 31 2014.
For Canada, the honour of Top Sandals Travel Agency went to TripCentral.ca, Bedford, NS, while Travel Professionals International (TPI), Winnipeg was the Top Beaches Booking Agency for outstanding sales achievements.
Travel Professionals International (TPI) was recognized as the Top Host Agency, while Flight Centre Canada was named the Top Retail Chain in Canada.
Some agents were also recognized for their individual contributions. Kim Hartlen of TripCentral.ca in Bedford, NS, was chosen for the worldwide Chairman’s Award. Carla McKay and Terri Lee Arbuckle of Travel Only, Nova Scotia, Kim Simms of LeGrow’s Travel, Newfoundland and Elaine Gailloux of Carlson Wagonlit, Quebec were recognized as Rising Stars for phenomenal commitment to the brand.
And Lisa Tetzlaff from Valente Travel, among others, won the coveted Spirit Award.
“We are the single most profitable resort organization to do business with, and we have protected the travel agent, and will continue to protect the travel agent with price parity,” says the Chairman. “It’s not the cheapest – it’s never going to be the cheapest – but it’s the quality, inclusions and innovation that makes us a fantastic value, and we have a lot great things in store for 2015.”
Sandals and Beaches continue to innovate with lots of exciting developments for 2015 and beyond. The new Sandals Barbados will open on Jan. 28 2015 and Sandals Royal Caribbean is set to break ground on five stunning overwater bungalows. Greg Norman will help Sandals up their game on two golf courses in Jamaica, plus a partnership with Robert Mondavi Winery of Napa Valley will add more wine selection to the all-inclusive menu. Two new Beaches properties are also planned for Barbados and Antigua.