Clients can have a fabulous time in the West Indies, even if they aren’t loved up, writes Jo Cooke
The ‘c’ in Caribbean could quite easily stand for couples. Advertising campaigns have done an excellent job of selling the region as the world’s top destination for romance.
In truth, there are few backdrops on the globe more suitable for lovers than this. Couples resorts thrive and keep duos joined at the hip from dawn until dusk, with champagne breakfasts, sunset catamaran cruises and candlelit dinners.
But there’s no need for singles and groups of friends to miss out on the sublime shores, natural beauty, top-notch hotels and resorts the region offers. You just have to pick and choose where you send them so they don’t get queasy at the sight of canoodling couples.
The simplest way to ensure an escape to the West Indies is tailor-made for those who are travelling alone is to book clients on a trip with a specialist operator. Solos Holidays and Just You both feature a selection of Caribbean islands and they don’t charge a single supplement for having your own room.
The Dominican Republic, Cuba and Barbados are the destinations offered by Solos Holidays, with an in-resort tour leader on hand to organise social gatherings and excursions for those who want to share the moment with others, and advice and information for those who would rather keep themselves to themselves.
“The Caribbean is generally presented as a couples and family destination, but it is also one of the best destinations for singles,” says Andy Fairburn, sales and marketing manager at Solos Holidays. “It offers plenty of variety and wonderful travel experiences for the solo traveller. And, if you want to party, there are infinite opportunities too.”
Just You offers an action-packed nine-night trip to Saint Lucia and a 16-night tour of Cuba for singles. “We have recently introduced Saint Lucia to our Just You Escape holidays,” says Kalpa Patel, Just You brand manager.
“Our tour manager will accompany our groups and ensure that they see the best of Saint Lucia. Included tours are on set days but the rest of the time is free for customers to decide whether they would like to take an excursion or relax. There’s also a farewell beachside dinner for the group on the last evening.”
If clients prefer to go it alone, rather than being part of a group, direct them to an island that has small-scale hotels nestling around bustling seaside resorts. With bars, beaches, shops, restaurants and nightlife on their doorstep they can find company whenever the mood takes them. Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia is a prime example.
Here, the friendly, family-run Bay Gardens Beach Resort, used by Just You, is footsteps from the town’s amenities. In Barbados meanwhile, Holetown and St Lawrence Gap encourage holidaymakers to mix and mingle with each other, and locals.
In St Lawrence Gap, Time Out Hotel, featured by Solos Holidays, is at the heart of the action, while in fabulous Holetown, The Fairmont Royal Pavilion, sold by operators including Hayes & Jarvis, will delight those seeking exclusivity and luxury living. It’s also close to an upscale retail mall and rustic-chic Chattel House Shopping Village.
Negril in Jamaica is also ideal for singles. At the plentiful, laid-back beach bars and music spots, it’s easy to strike up a conversation with like-minded, independent folk from across the globe. Legends Beach Resort, sold through Cosmos, is an ideal property to suggest. It has both beachfront and garden rooms, and the bar and restaurant area that edges the sand has the feel of a social club.
The Bahamian capital, Nassau, is another tropical spot that works well for solos. The country’s capital is easy to explore on foot with good shopping, sightseeing, bars and restaurants and the possibility to take day trips by ferry to the islands. Atlantis Paradise Island resort, sold through operators such as Caribtours, makes a good base as it attracts all ages and types of traveller and has amenities including shopping mall, water park, beach and a dolphin encounter facility.
Of course, solitude comes at a price, with most properties charging a single supplement. Not so however at the BodyHoliday in Saint Lucia. “It’s perfect for solo travellers,” says David Pointer, head of product at Western & Oriental.
“Single guests can get a double bed – so no cramped single rooms. Plus, it has a lively social atmosphere with lots of included activities from tai chi, yoga, Pilates and meditation to land and water sports including motorised activities, so it’s a great chance to meet other solo travellers.
“It’s also ideal for groups of friends who want to each have their own room, so a group can travel together, but pay the same price as they would if they shared rooms.”
Fun for Friends
Beyond the couples-only properties, all-inclusives can be a great option for groups of friends. They’ll blend right in at family-orientated resorts, where most guests are looking to hang out exclusively with their clan.
The 1,791-room Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, sold by Funway, offers excellent facilities and non-stop action. It boasts a huge beach, multiple pools and restaurants, one of the biggest casinos in the Caribbean and a golf course. The rooms and balconies are a generous size and encourage private sunset cocktail parties with your friends.
Aruba is another location that should be a hit with parties of pals. The High Rise resort area, set on the quintessentially Caribbean Palm Beach, has plenty of volleyball nets and beach bars.
Behind the hotels the resort centre has a village feel and as well as the multiplex cinema, night market and air-conditioned shopping malls, clients will be spoilt for choice by the selection of courtyard restaurants, live entertainment and nightclubs. Thomson sells the all-inclusive Riu Palace Aruba here.
Those who enjoy watersports would do well to opt for Grand Cayman where crystal-clear seas will wow snorkellers and divers.
Sunshine Suites, sold by Kuoni, is across the road from the lengthy and pristine Seven Mile Beach, as well as being close to local bars and restaurants and close to the inviting capital George Town. The accommodations are ideal for friends with deluxe suites featuring two queen beds and one-bedroom suites sleeping three.
For the style-conscious with cash to splash, suggest the villas at Viceroy Anguilla, sold by ITC Classics. With up to five bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms, there is plenty of room to spread out, and with a private pool they’ll get plenty of quality time together.
The resort also has tennis courts, a swish spa and spans two sensational beaches. They don’t have to leave their accommodation for nightlife either. The swanky Sunset Lounge, set above the ocean, plays host to DJs and is the place to see and be seen.
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