CAPTION: Blue Waters’ General Manager Alistair Forrest (left) and Deputy General Manager Daniel Brown on the property.
Last year, a friend in New Jersey asked where she should go for a quick Caribbean getaway with one of her girlfriends. It was a tough ask, as there are so many and such a great variety of options.
An islander herself, albeit from the Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa, she mentioned St. Maarten, no doubt because of its multicultural flavor, culinary diversity and the fact that it packs two nations-one French, the other Dutch-into one small island. She found a great airfare to Grand Cayman, but she had been there before for a wedding. Finally, Antigua came to the fore and one of my childhood friends working there recommended Sandals, Sugar Ridge or Blue Waters for her stay.
Our research mode-she online, me canvassing the tourist board-secured within short order a pretty good deal at Blue Waters Antigua where she and her friend had the time of their lives.
Last month, I visited Antigua with a media delegation to cover Antigua Sailing Week and its attendant merrymaking activities. I was delighted when the BBC’s Kymberlie Andrew, our British-Antiguan tour guide/customer service trainer, mentioned that I would be accommodated at…take a guess…you got it: Blue Waters Antigua! Only minutes from the airport and nestled on the northeast corner of Antigua, where crystal-clear Caribbean waters lap gently at secluded white sand beaches, the 110-room Blue Waters, known in particular for its luxuriously appointed suites, is a jewel in the Antiguan resort crown.
Like many hotels and resorts across the Caribbean, they were experiencing a business revival this winter, following the ravages of the global recession. “I think we are seeing the trend towards longer stays…The long lead in times are [also] coming back. People are booking a year ahead again-the confidence is returning to the market and that’s what’s so hugely important,” said Blue Waters’ General Manager Alistair Forrest.
Antigua’s minister of tourism, John Maginley, is pleased with the country’s performance in the winter season, with reports of improved arrivals and revenues over the previous season. “We are [now] trying to create a little more buzz for the summertime-and are anxiously optimistic that the trend will continue,” he said.
Maginley, a former Davis Cup tennis player and captain, asserts that airlift remains a priority for Antigua and Barbuda. He was pleased with the introduction of Caribbean Airlines’ new nonstop flights from New York’s JFK airport. “We are still talking to JetBlue [as we look] at all of our options for winter 2011-2012,” he said.
In addition to traditional leisure travelers, he added that the Caribbean Diaspora remains an important market, especially for cricket, carnival, Independence and other special events.
Antigua and Barbuda have plenty to see and plenty to do. The twin-island nation’s public and private sectors are locking arms to help further develop the primary tourism industry, so there’ll surely be plenty more to come.