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In a sign of confidence and sheer grit, the three-day 2018 Caribbean Travel Marketplace — the most important travel marketplace in the Caribbean — was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jan. 30 through Feb. 1. Despite San Juan being hard hit by Hurricane Maria, the event was a success by all accounts.
“The mood of the conference was optimistic,” said Jonathan Cooper, CEO and founder of TravPro Mobile. “For those who took a beating in the storms, there’s a lot of resiliency and pride. They’re coming back and an upside of this is a strengthening of the community.”
The region has been in recovery mode since the storms of September, while at the same trying to get out the message that the Caribbean is an expansive region: Just because a handful of islands are affected by adversity, it doesn’t mean the entire region is closed for business. There are always options for a Caribbean holiday for your clients.
“I don’t think that any of you would want me to give a blow-by-blow account of September 2017, reminding you of our most unwelcome of visitors,” said Karolin Troubetzkoy, president of Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, during her opening remarks at the 2018 Caribbean Travel Marketplace. “Let’s just say that some of our other islands, like our hosts here in Puerto Rico, went through hell. But, like our hosts, these islands and their people picked up through the debris, and, in the painful process of recovery and reconstruction, reminded us why we all cherish our island homes.”
News From the ConferenceIn St. Maarten, Princess Juliana International Airport is open for commercial flights, with capacity for a full slate of flights increasing throughout the year. Last December saw the reopening of St. Maarten’s cruise port. Many of St. Maarten’s hotels and guesthouses are open and receiving guests. In addition, Oyster Bay Beach Resort is on schedule to reopen in April, and Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa are expected to soon announce their reopening dates.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino completed soft renovations of all 411 guestrooms and added three new rooms to its Tradewinds Club.
Antigua’s Curtain Bluff has completed its second and final phase of a $13 million renovation, which included an extensive renovation of the resort’s restaurants, lounge, bar, reception and resort entrance.
The British Virgin Islands reports that T.B. Lettsome International Airport is once again receiving commercial evening flights via connections from Antigua, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and San Juan.
St. Kitt’s Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Kitts is a 226-suite hotel currently under construction. The six-tower condo hotel will have 3,847 square feet of meeting space and is scheduled to open in late 2018.
The Grand Hyatt brand has announced a Caribbean expansion with a new 351-room Grand Hyatt Grand Cayman Hotel & Residences; it will be situated on Grand Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach. Agents should expect 25,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event space, making the property the largest such venue in the Cayman Islands. The hotel is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2020.
Looking forward, the 2019 Caribbean Travel Marketplace will be held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre from Jan. 29 to 31, 2019.
“No matter how many countries are in the Caribbean, and no matter how different we may be from each other, when it comes to terrain, language, experiences and services offered, we are all part of one Caribbean brand,” Troubetzkoy said.
Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Associationwww.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com
Caribbean Travel Marketplacewww.chtamarketplace.com