First Waldorf-Astoria in the Caribbean
One of 15 New Hotels Approved in Antigua-Barbuda
The first Waldorf-Astoria in the Caribbean is to be located in Antigua, and is one of 15 new hotels that have been approved for construction in Antigua and Barbuda, Tourism Minister, Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez told reporters during a product update briefing at the State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) in The Bahamas.
The Waldorf Astoria Collection is a Hilton Worldwide luxury hotel and resort brand and is the flagship brand within Hilton’s portfolio for hotels that offer the highest standards of facilities and service. Scheduled to open in 2019, the Waldorf Astoria Antigua will be located in a cove along the southeastern coast of Antigua at Morris Bay Beach, roughly 20 minutes from V.C. Bird International Airport.
The other approved properties include Marriott Autograph Collection, Rosewood, a Best Western, the Royalton Antigua, Elegant Hotels’ Hodges Bay Resort and Spa, and The Hammock Cove by Elite Island, representing 2,535 rooms and units.
The award-winning, eco-friendly Barbuda Belle will also reopen on November 1. The six bungalow hotel, which was one of the signature properties on Barbuda, will be the first hotel to reopen since the island was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
By 2021, the new rooms should be part of the country’s hotel inventory, Fernandez said, “…more than doubling our current room stock”. Antigua had a record-breaking year in tourism in 2017 and has seen robust growth during the first months of 2018. “Cruise arrivals are up 17.8 percent, with 520,465 visitors up to August 2018, and air arrivals are up seven percent year on year, with 188,974 visitors,” Fernandez said.
The country’s fortunes are predicated on the increase in airlift and the expansion of the cruise market. According to the Tourism Minister, a fifth berth is to be built in St. John’s by mid-2019, which will give the country the capacity to accommodate the world’s largest cruise liners, Oasis Class ships.
Meanwhile, Antigua and Barbuda operators have launched a new ferry service Fernandez said. In addition, the territory will increase its marketing of non-traditional areas as well as “environmental” tourism. Antigua and Barbuda has also introduced a hurricane guarantee program aimed at providing peace of mind for travelers booking holidays there. Fernandez said the program is a partnership involving the government and private sector players and comes after the widespread devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year. “Those affected can return and avail of any unused days at a future date without any penalties or fees at participating properties,” Fernandez said.