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Yvette Godoy of Riverside, Calif.-based Canyon Crest Travel, a Virtuoso Agency affiliated with Travel Leaders, has been specializing in the Caribbean since she first entered the travel industry 11 years ago, inspired by her travel agent mother.
She shared with us her tips for the best locations in the Caribbean for families, adventure travelers and destination weddings, as well as how she utilizes social media to give her clients a taste of the islands before they even board their plane.
What are some Caribbean travel trends you’ve seen over the past few years?There’s a lot of interest in Cuba right now. Another trend I’ve noticed is that more people are venturing to the Caribbean from the West Coast. I think it’s because there’s more information out there, and people are realizing their options. I also think cruising has played a big part in it.
Which destinations are families most interested in? How about adventure travelers?We get the most requests for Caribbean cruises from families, because you get multiple islands in one vacation. Royal Caribbean International is a favored line. It gets a lot of requests because of its mega-ships. Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises and luxury cruise lines such as Oceania Cruises are also popular. After that, it would probably be Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas. There’s quite a bit of interest in the U.S. Virgin Islands, since you don’t need a passport.
For adventure, the ABC Islands are a great option. If someone is into adventure and they want to go to the Caribbean, they’re probably going to want to go diving. Belize has a little bit of everything for adventure lovers. They’ve got the jungle and the barrier reef.
Which locations in the Caribbean are popular for destination weddings?I’ve noticed St. Lucia, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica are popular for destination weddings. I think Jamaica is desirable because it has so many all-inclusive options. There’s a lot of variety as far as resorts go. The Dominican Republic has always been very well-liked by East Coasters, but it has been growing in popularity on the West Coast. Affordability is a big factor. A lot of it also probably has to do with social media. St. Lucia is a gorgeous island — very green, very lush. I’ve noticed that St. Lucia destination weddings tend to be more adult-oriented.
You mentioned social media. How has social media influenced your job?We do more and more with social media to attract clients and send them information. Personally, when I’m on a trip, I refer people to my Instagram and have them look at pictures. Or I make a slideshow and send them videos or pictures that way.
I just had a group of people go to Cancun this week, and I sent them videos of what it’s like to arrive at the airport and a video of a whale shark excursion I did. They all loved it!
What would you recommend for first-time Caribbean travelers?I think cruises are fabulous for those who don’t know what island they want to go to. You get to experience a little bit of everything. If you don’t want a cruise, San Juan is great for first-timers. The Bahamas is not a long flight. I think Atlantis is a great stop for families.
What are your favorite, must-see locations in the Caribbean? The U.S. Virgin Islands — I like the variety. St. Thomas is a great place to start. Then go to St. John for a day trip, maybe even the British Virgin Islands.
The Caribbean’s gastronomic scene is growing — what are the best places for foodies?St. Barts and Anguilla are two good ones. Each of the islands has a different style. St. Barts has a lot of European-style restaurants and a bit of Asian influence.
What do you tell clients traveling to the Caribbean?My biggest advice is to venture outside of the resort. I know a lot of people go for the first time and don’t want to leave the resort because the area is unknown to them. Take a day trip. Go sightseeing or do a specific activity, such as seeing stingrays. Get outside on the island.