Elegant Hotels, All-inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy
Experience the delights
Business View Caribbean interviews Xavier Pineda, Director Sales & Marketing at All-inclusive and Elegant Hotels, for our focus on the Hospitality Sector
If you’re seeking the ultimate Caribbean beach getaway, look no further than the distinctive collection of resorts in the Elegant Hotels, All-inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy portfolio. Each of these seven luxury properties – Colony Club, Treasure Beach, Tamarind, Turtle Beach, Crystal Cove, Waves Hotel & Spa, and the intimate House – brings its own unique personality and a refreshing new dimension of delight for visitors to beautiful Barbados.
Xavier Pineda, Director of Sales and Marketing for All-inclusive and Elegant Hotels, reports, “It’s amazing to see the interest returning to leisure travel and business travel – from the U.S. Mexico, Europe. In March this year, I was in Tampa, Florida at a convention for groups and conference events and looking at the trends for that segment. It is wonderful to see the optimism and the opportunities for 2022 and 2023.”
The All-inclusive acquisition of Elegant Hotels by Marriott International happened in 2018, pre-COVID, and it’s an interesting story of how they’ve managed to keep the operation steady and strong despite the challenges.
Pineda reports, “Some things that changed in the last year – first of all, Barbados became the world’s newest republic on Nov 30, 2021. On that day, our President of the New Republic of Barbados was sworn in, which I think is great. The market is in a steady recovery. We have new flights arriving to the destination from cities like New York and Washington, and also two new flights from the United Kingdom. There is an optimistic point of view that new routes are being created for Barbados.”
The Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program was activated in May 2021 and now guests can earn and redeem Marriott Bonvoy points within all seven Elegant All-inclusive properties in Barbados. Of those properties, Colony Club is the only one that is still a European plan hotel. Colony is an historic hotel in Barbados and it made sense to maintain the European plan, which customers enjoy there. However, it may be converted to All-inclusive in the future.
The House and Treasure Hotels were converted to All-inclusive resorts in 2021. The House is popular with couples, honeymooners, and celebrities alike. It’s a chic hideaway and one of the island’s finest ‘adults only’ All-inclusive resorts. Even with 34 suites, the barefoot elegance at The House gives the sense of being in a private beach house in Barbados. Amenities within the new All-inclusive model include gastronomic delights featured in all-day dining at the restaurant, indulgent champagne breakfasts every day, a 24-hour cocktail bar, a grab-n-go bar with fresh light bites and drinks, sophisticated afternoon tea, and evening canapes. Simply delicious…
With love always in the air, Pineda shares, “We created the Romance Concierge to create a tailored experience for special occasions – whether a sunset dinner on the beach, or a barbeque for two under the stars, or a perfect proposal ceremony. The team at The House takes care of all the arrangements to make sure that we create this ‘wow’ factor in the memories of our guests.”
Treasure Beach was also converted to All-inclusive, with 35, one-bedroom suites and a new offering of epicurean encounters, featuring all-day dining at the Tapas Tree restaurant and a Chef’s Table experience. In addition, there are weekly Treasure Art Crawls, where guests explore the island’s creative hubs and have free entry to museums and art galleries included in that package. And local artists (musicians and painters) come into the hotel to perform and sometimes interact with the guests.
The average length of stay for European guests is between 10 to 14 days, while the North American market is generally around five to seven days. Pineda notes, “Our employees get to know these visitors well. If you look at the comments about our hotels on different online platforms, you will see a lot of remarks about our associates. Some of them have been working at our hotels for decades and, in some cases, our customers visit us almost every year and our associates interact with them by name now. Some of them have the full story of the family. I think that one of the main attributes that we have within our seven boutique hotels in Barbados is the personalized service between our ambassadors by the pool, at the beach, at the front desk. It forms this strong relationship with our guests that creates memories.”
During some waves of the pandemic, the resorts experienced a decrease in the number of associates, which affected services, especially in the restaurants and bars. But the property team did a great job approaching local colleges and universities in the hotel industry to bring on some temporary staff that are interested in the industry. “Of course, we supported our associates during that period,” Pineda says, “but I think it’s still a challenge – not only with our hotels, but in Barbados and the Caribbean in general.”
While they are still known as Elegant Hotels, the properties are gradually transitioning to the Marriott distinctive brands. The staff and management are working on improvement plans for every property and once they reach the Marriott International standards, there will be a name change, for example, Colony Club – The Luxury Collection. Guests will notice different brands arriving to the island under the Marriott portfolio.
Pineda admits, “We had a very solid plan for improvement that was paused due to the COVID-19 situation. Because we’re having such a great demand now in Barbados from European markets and also North America, we need to make sure we accomplish our financial objectives to make those changes to the properties. When it comes to sustainability initiatives at our resorts, it’s a challenge currently to get materials to work on those specific efforts at this point, but definitely we are participating in local programs about beach cleaning and environmental education activities. Especially with the turtles in Barbados.”
One big success story in 2021 involved offering locals the opportunity to experience the seven properties with ‘Staycation’ packages. Especially during the troubling pandemic times, to be able to experience the high level of personalization and service is something that Barbadians enjoyed experiencing firsthand, and those packages are still available.
Advances in technology have been ongoing at the resorts. “We incorporated our seven properties in the All-inclusive by Marriott platform, which included a dedicated All-inclusive website,” Pineda says, “But also we are creating a technological distribution structure to ensure that our properties are distributed globally and at different levels and different segments – for families, for adults only, solo travelers. And of course for groups, for multi-generational families, and for weddings and celebrations. The purpose for the traveler that we’re targeting is leisure, with a variety of different options.”
He adds, “The first experience is families, with a robust kids and teens program that makes them happy and so it makes the parents happy, too. The House and Treasure Beach are great examples for adults-only hotels, and we have experiences for solo travelers that is something new and important. A percentage of our Marriott Bonvoy members are exploring having a solo vacation. That is increasing in 2022 since the pandemic.”
The signature Dine Around program, has become very popular with guests, where they can stay in one hotel and play in many. There are 14 restaurants to experience on the program, including recently opened Positanos, which is the new star in the dining scene. According to Pineda, “It’s on the west coast between the House and the Tamarind Hotel and serves authentic Italian cuisine (including handmade pasta and a pizza bar with its own wood-fired oven) in a casual atmosphere. Of course, it also offers a wide selection of wine, spirits, and rums and a terrace that looks out on the most beautiful sunsets on Barbados.”
Another adventure to highlight is the Rum Vault experience at the Colony Club Hotel. It’s an intimate experience led by the hotel’s rum sommelier. The vault houses over 150 rums from around the globe. It begins with tales from the vault and a cocktail and moves along with a well-curated food and rum pairing. If you are a rum enthusiast or want to learn about rum, the Rum Vault experience is a must-do for your itinerary. Pineda boasts, “Barbados is the birthplace of rum and they have the oldest distillery in the world.”
Looking ahead, the horizon is full of exciting possibilities. Pineda’s wish is “to not only maintain our loyal customers that visit every year to create memories, but also to give new customers the opportunities to discover Barbados – one of the most unique islands in the Caribbean. Its culture, its history, its beauty… There is a lot to be discovered by the North American market.”