Tourist board buddies Dunstan James of St. Lucia and Rosemarie Wilson of Turks & Caicos
They teased that they had dressed for Antarctic
weather: the 45 Sandals and Beaches
execs and sales team members who joined some 450 Toronto area agents in a
love-fest of appreciation in Toronto on Wednesday night.
The event was one of 21 across North America and the first
in Canada (Montreal was to follow), a 30,000 km trip featuring its own branded
18-wheeler of decorations and equipment.
In all, some 6,000 agents will have been hosted to an evening of
entertainment, education, awards and networking with top Sandals staffers. A particular thrill for many in attendance
was the presence of Gordon “Butch” Stewart, legendary founder of Sandals and
Beaches and his son Adam, now CEO and Deputy Chairman.
As always with Sandals and Beaches, there’s news. Sandals
Royal Barbados is slated to open December 20
th. Beaches/Provo and
Sandals/Antigua are soon to re-open post-hurricane. Sandals and Beaches resorts
are both on tap for Trinidad and Tobago (a whole new country for the chain).
A good portion of the evening was devoted to an update on
weddings, which are available at both Sandals and Beaches properties. Never
resting on their laurels, the weddings team (headed by Marsha-Ann Brown,
Director of Romance) has come up with seven wedding styles, from tropical to
sand & sea, coastal living to gardens. “Twenty years ago, a destination
wedding was usually the bride and groom, maybe one other couple. Today 40 guests is typical, and we recently
hosted a wedding for 120,” Brown told the group. Options now include ultra-smoochy over-water
chapels (one each in Jamaica and St. Lucia) and the charming chance to have
your photographs taken in a local historic site such as a plantation house.
In all, it was a blockbuster evening, one sure to impress
and remind agents of the momentum of this influential resort group.
“We have the largest sales force, with 23 people in Canada
alone,” Jeff Clarke, CEO of Unique Vacations told the guests. “We offer the
highest commission of any all-inclusive chain. We will train 16,000 travel agents this year. And we are relying on
you to sell the heck out of Sandals and Beaches.”
No argument from that audience!
Martha Chapman Columnist
An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions features as well as special seasonal series. A travel industry lifer known to all in the biz, she frequently covers industry events for Open Jaw.