One of the Caribbean’s leading hotel groups is hoping price-led offers will shore up the market in the face of high air fares and the credit crunch.
Elite Island Resorts, whose properties include The Verandah Resort and Spa and St James’s Club in Antigua, says it is working with UK operators such as Kuoni and Virgin Holidays to boost business.
“We’re sharing promotion and marketing and we’re trying to give better rates to clients so they can still come even if their air fare is expensive,” said Alex de Brito e Cunha, vice president of hotel operations for the group.
“I think we’ll have a decent Christmas, but after that is the problem. In my experience the English market will react late. Hopefully if we’re attractive and have good rates people will still travel. We have seen lower levels of occupancy and lower levels of revenue because we are making more offers,” he said.
Although the group is trying to cut expenses because of the poor market, it is going ahead with major renovations at St James’s Club including 50 new suites, a new spa, dive centre and restaurant. “I believe when the business comes back we need to be ready. We are optimistic but concerned.”
Despite the demise of XL, de Brito e Cunha said airline capacity is not a problem. However he did says that the hotel group has increased the visibility of security on its properties on Antigua following the deaths of honeymoon couple Ben and Catherine Mullany
“We have had guests calling and asking whether they should go. We identify those guests on our reservation system and when they come we show them it is safe. Now security is more visible,” he added.