It’s one thing to know that travel agent associations are lobbying the government on agents’ behalf. It’s another to actually hear it and see it in action.
TURKS & CAICOS — Sandals Resorts is celebrating the best of the best with its top travel agents, travel agencies and suppliers at the 18th annual STAR Awards at Beaches Turks & Caicos.
Plenty of Canadian agents took home awards including Sandy Willett from Vision Travel in Waterloo, ON who was honoured with the Sandals CEO Award of Excellence.
The top 10 travel agencies worldwide included host agencies TPI and The Travel Agent Next Door.
And the ‘Best of the Best’ for Canada included The Travel Agent Next Door; TPI; Kim Hartlen Travel/TPI in Nova Scotia; Travel Only; Vision Travel Solutions; CWT/Stewart Travel in Peterborough, ON; Quebec’s One Love Honeymoons/CME Travel, LatitudesPlus Smart Travel in Whitby, ON.
While the STAR event is all about celebrating travel agents, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the legacy, and forward momentum, of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts.
“’World’s Best’ is not a tagline, it’s a signifier of what to expect, and more importantly it’s a promise on what Sandals and Beaches Resorts will deliver – exceeding your and your clients’ expectations and earning our stars every day,” said Maureen Barnes-Smith, Director of Sales & Marketing, Unique Vacations Canada Inc., affiliate of the worldwide representative of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts.
“Over the past 38 years we have seen the evolution of travel and the transformation of the Sandals brand as your customers’ needs and desires have changed. We have seen the introduction of Beaches and the increasing diversity of our product offerings as we have anticipated and reacted to industry trends.”
The company has stayed nimble as it evolves with the times, but “what has never changed for us is the vision that started this company, of finding the best beaches and real estate on which to create world class luxury resorts,” said Barnes-Smith.
For Sandals Resorts’ “passion driver and perfection seeker”, Chairman and Founder Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, every beach told a story, said Barnes-Smith, “one he wanted to share with customers while delivering more than they ever expected.”
That led to Sandals Resorts’ trajectory as an innovator, with industry firsts including everything from hair dryers and robes in the room, to à la carte restaurants, and more recently, to over the water bungalows and villas, over the water serenity wedding chapels and over the water bars.
The story of Sandals “has been an unbelievable journey, from the humblest beginnings of 99 bedrooms in 1981 to now being the Caribbean’s only all-inclusive superbrand and World’s Leading All-Inclusive Resorts for 24 years,” said Barnes-Smith.
She added: “We continue to be the single largest private employer in the Caribbean, supporting local industries in all the islands where we operate and providing sustainable linkages throughout all levels of industry in these islands.
“We continue to set the trends, and to be the benchmark that competitors follow, seizing opportunities where others see obstacles.”