Maryann Gaskin, Askari
Travel with Armin Asceric of Sunswept
In a landscape virtually cluttered with all-inclusives, with
the chains especially growing by leaps and bounds, how do you keep 2
privately-owned resorts on little St. Lucia in the spotlight? How do you make
sure they are amazingly successful, with high repeat business and scores of
Easy: You call them Rendezvous and the bodyholiday and you
provide a range of amenities and inventive inclusions that have the guests
asking for more.
Such was the message delivered to some 65 key travel agents
and VIPs at an event hosted by Sunswept Resorts in Toronto's snazzy Sassafraz
Resto last week.
Take Rendezvous. I love their tagline: “Time is so precious,
smart couples steal it." The resort has recently received $12.5 million in
improvements, but as brand and marketing manager Armin Asceric explained, it
remains the boutique hotel for couples, classy yet cozy. “Rendezvous is for the
executive couple who are texting each other across the bed." (Doesn't that say
The new rooms, he says whisper sophistication and the
beachfront cottages are truly stunning. Couples can learn tai chi, massage
(yes, learn massage) and in June enjoy Jive June: 7 dance classes per
week, each a different dance such as tango or waltz – with celebs from Dancing
with the Stars.
Over at bodyholiday, the equally brilliant tagline is, “Give
us your body for a week and we'll give you back your mind." The bodyholiday
experience doesn't just include treatments, they'll customize a vacation even
before the client leaves home. What are his or her goals? Detox? Get fit?
Give up smoking? “We offer a pro-active healthy attitude," says Asceric.
October, for example, is Yoga month with special menus and meditation classes.
“But," he added, “we do offer naughty food – our pizza oven for example."
And with a 40% repeat factor, it sounds like serious
wellness is a going concern.
So… with such a successful track record, surely the owners
are tempted to expand? “Wellness vacations are growing at a rate of 14% a
year," board member Clive Farmer told me. “So yes, let's say we are looking at