The Star (St. Lucia) - - BUSINESS -

San­dals Re­sorts in Saint Lu­cia has sought to am­plify the is­land’s mar­ket­ing foot­print ahead of the 2017-2018 win­ter sea­son with the host­ing of the 2017 Chair­man’s Royal Club travel agents’ re­treat. The event, which con­cluded re­cently, saw al­most 40 of the United States’ top va­ca­tion sell­ers gather for one week to sam­ple and un­der­stand the lat­est in hospi­tal­ity de­vel­op­ments.

The events were spread across all three San­dals re­sorts and, per Tourism Min­is­ter Hon. Do­minic Fedee, the ex­po­sure for the is­land goes be­yond a price tag. The min­is­ter cred­ited the agents for the change in Saint Lu­cia’s main mar­ket from agri­cul­ture to tourism and en­cour­aged that they, too, now adapt the mantra that Saint Lu­cia has much more to of­fer than sand, sea and sun.

“We owe a great debt to all of you in this room and the mar­ket­ing ge­nius of San­dals. As Saint Lu­cians, we are proud to see our is­land fea­tured at prime time on CNN and BBC and MBC,” the min­is­ter said.

San­dals Re­sorts in Saint Lu­cia, with its re­lated com­pa­nies, con­trib­utes some 9% of the is­land’s to­tal GDP and is re­spon­si­ble for some 40% of to­tal ar­rivals to Saint Lu­cia.

“I tell all the other hote­liers on is­land that San­dals brings the planes and we all just come along for the ride,” Fedee said.

He ad­mit­ted that the weight of the San­dals brand and its three prop­er­ties on the is­land is of­ten the big­gest bar­gain­ing chip when ne­go­ti­at­ing new air­lift op­por­tu­ni­ties for the is­land and even when in dis­cus­sions with po­ten­tial in­vestors. He said San­dals’ faith and in­vest­ment in the is­land is of­ten the fuel needed to ig­nite con­ver­sa­tions on fur­ther de­vel­op­ment and growth.

“We use San­dals to im­prove our ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tions with air­lines and other in­vestors. When you have an in­vestor like San­dals it does tremen­dous things,” he said.

Fedee said his min­istry is look­ing at “re­brand­ing Saint Lu­cia” and is mov­ing away from tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing ap­proaches and will in­stead be mov­ing to­wards the pro­mo­tion of the is­land as a brand.

“We are also look­ing closely at our air­lift sit­u­a­tion to in­clude new di­rect flights from places like Texas and other parts of the west coast of the USA. And even an­other flight from Mi­ami to cre­ate more op­tions for trav­ellers. San Juan is an­other op­tion to in­crease at­trac­tive­ness and ease of ac­cess,” the min­is­ter said, adding that the re­la­tion­ship with San­dals and its strength as a brand is al­ready aid­ing in this process.

Manag­ing Direc­tor for San­dals in Saint Lu­cia, Mr. Win­ston An­der­son, un­der­lined the amaz­ing new plans for the de­vel­op­ment of the San­dals brand in Saint Lu­cia, in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of a fourth San­dals re­sort which, ac­cord­ing to him, will be lightyears ahead of its time.

He said, “We do not just sim­ply mar­ket San­dals Re­sorts, we mar­ket the en­tire des­ti­na­tion,” con­firm­ing also that not ev­ery­one who sees a San­dals com­mer­cial in ma­jor mar­kets would nec­es­sar­ily be San­dals guests.

“Some­one might fall in love with the beauty of Saint Lu­cia but would pre­fer to stay at an Air BnB or a small bou­tique ho­tel. For us, the plea­sure is in be­ing able to mar­ket this amaz­ing des­ti­na­tion to mil­lions around the world ev­ery day,” An­der­son said.

A San­dals Re­sorts com­mer­cial is aired ev­ery 40 sec­onds on any ma­jor US and Euro­pean net­work.

An­der­son thanked the travel agents for their con­tin­ued ef­forts in pro­mot­ing des­ti­na­tion Saint Lu­cia and re­minded that ev­ery va­ca­tion sold goes to­wards the se­cu­rity of jobs and liveli­hoods of most in­di­vid­u­als on the is­land.

“Your role is tremen­dous to the de­vel­op­ment of our coun­try,” An­der­son said.

Also present at Mon­day’s Chair­man’s Royal Club meet­ing were se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Unique Va­ca­tions - the mar­ket­ing arm of San­dals Re­sorts - and other se­nior of­fi­cials from San­dals Re­sorts In­ter­na­tional.

Over 35 travel agents gather with se­nior San­dals and Unique Va­ca­tions rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Saint Lu­cia’s Min­is­ter of Tourism Hon. Do­minic Fedee at Mon­day’s dis­cus­sions at San­dals Grande St. Lu­cian Spa & Beach Re­sort.

Min­is­ter of Tourism Hon. Do­minic Fedee with CEO of Unique Va­ca­tions Tammy Gon­za­lez at Mon­day’s dis­cus­sions with travel agents at San­dals Grande.

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