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Island Routes Caribbean Adventures, which was formed in 2009 in affiliation with Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, is an operator of activities throughout the Caribbean.
Island Routes was initially conceptualized by Adam Stewart — deputy chairman for Sandals and CEO of Island Routes — to support business for Sandals and Beaches. However, David Shields, vice president of sales for Island Routes, says that the company has significantly grown since its beginnings as a small tour desk operation.
“Our tour portfolio is quite expansive, with more than 500 tours in 12 destinations across the region,” Shields said. “In Jamaica, we operate catamarans — our premium product — and a fleet of Mini Coopers that we use for our ‘Mini-Routes.’ Our markets also extend into the eastern Caribbean: Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, and Turks and Caicos. And in the Bahamas, we are in Nassau and Exuma.”
Shields notes that Island Routes offers tours in destinations where there are no Sandals resorts, including Cancun, Mexico; the Dominican Republic; Aruba; and the Cayman Islands. The company also features land- and ocean-based tours that showcase each locale.
Catamaran ToursIsland Routes recently added to its fleet new 65-foot double-decker catamarans: Calipsoul in Jamaica, and Sol Mate in Nassau. The custom-built vessels can accommodate up to 150 passengers for daytime snorkel trips as well as sunset sails.
“We’re an ever-expanding and always-evolving company that is fueled by adventure and a desire to go beyond customers’ expectations,” Stewart said. "Island Routes is setting a new standard for catamaran cruises by going above and beyond anything tourists have seen."
A must for clients visiting Turks and Caicos is the family-focused Sesame Sail Away Catamaran Cruise. This Island Routes exclusive allows kids (and kids at heart) to cruise with their favorite Muppet pals. Shields explains that the relationship between “Sesame Street” and Beaches Turks & Caicos resort provides a golden opportunity for Island Routes to offer what he describes as the most unique of all existing products.
"The characters are on the boat, so the families and the kids get to interact on a catamaran,” he said. “That exists nowhere else in the Caribbean."
Mini-RoutesAlso new for the company are Mini-Routes, which are first-of-their-kind guided Mini Cooper tours in Jamaica from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios, or from Montego Bay to Negril. During these unique excursions, clients drive themselves to some of the island nation’s best-known sights, including Discovery Bay and the popular Dunn’s River Falls, as well as to stops at locally owned eateries.
According to Ryan Terrier, vice president of operations for Island Routes, the Mini-Routes were launched because visitors wanted an authentic Jamaican experience. Plus, since each Mini Cooper can hold up to four passengers, it’s the perfect tour for families looking for the adventure of driving in Jamaica with the safety net of having a guide.
"We've created a self-driving tour, but you follow behind the lead car, so you're always together — and it's a constant reminder to drive on the right side of the road," Terrier said. "While you're driving, the guide is telling you what you're seeing [via radio], so it's a group tour, but you're doing it privately."
To add to the local flavor, tours to Ocho Rios stop for lunch at Miss T’s Kitchen, a local hot spot where chef Anna-Kay Tomlinson (aka “Miss T”) prepares authentic Jamaican cuisine with a twist. On the way back, clients pay a visit to “The Puddin’ Man,” who makes what has been dubbed “the world's most perfect sweet potato pudding” at his stall frequented mostly by locals.
"The fact that as a company in the Caribbean, we have been able to weather the storm — in more ways than one — and be around 10 years and expanding speaks well to the commitment of our owners," Shields said. "But certainly as important is working with our tour partners and travel advisor partners. We've been focusing on the travel trade and on building the portfolio and building the experiences."
In honor of its 10th anniversary, Island Routes is running a “10/10/10” promotion for advisors, offering 10% commission, plus an extra $10 booking bonus per person on the top tours in Jamaica (certain restrictions apply).
The DetailsIsland Routes Caribbean Adventureswww.islandroutes.com