When was the last time you really got to know your guests? What is the main reason they visited? How often? How do they plan their trips? And who on earth are they?
We sent Kristy Morris to the Sandpiper Resort in Barbados to find out. With the help of a very accommodating General Manager, Kristy was introduced to guests who, with decades of visits between them, certainly ought to qualify for the title of Honourary Citizens of the Caribbean!
It was an absolute pleasure to meet Carol, Adrian and Michelle. Considering the splendor of the hotel at which they stayed, it was a fairly good bet that they were having a great time but I thought I would ask what brought them to the Caribbean in the first place.
Carol & Adrian’s Story
For Carol and Adrian it was simple. Their daughter and son-in-law had left the UK and moved to Grenada, a picturesque country of rolling hills, beautiful beaches and tasty delicacies, nicknamed the Spice Island. Not a tough decision to move there! Twenty years ago, when the couple’s first child was born, grandparents Carol and Adrian packed their bags, said goodbye to the questionable weather of jolly old England and headed south to meet the newest member of the family. It was on that trip that their son-in-law, who at the time was working at Cable & Wireless, a regional communications service provider, gave them suggestions about other places to visit throughout the Caribbean. After he mentioned great things about the Sandpiper Resort in Barbados, they had to come witness and indulge in the property’s tropical opulence themselves.
Their Barbados experience was not without a little adventure. On what they thought would be a leisurely walk along a beach on the island’s famous west coast they were caught by a rapidly rising tide which trapped them in an impassable area of the shoreline. Cliff-climbing was out of the question, so they frantically waved to a jet-ski rider in the distance who came to their rescue. What a way to get the adrenaline pumping! Who knew a jet-ski rider would be a first-responder!
Because Carol and Adrian are experienced travelers I could not resist asking them to make a few comparisons. When asked to compare the Caribbean with other tourism destinations, here’s how Carol and Adrian explained why the warmth of our people makes the Caribbean among the world’s best places to visit.
“When we went to the Middle East we found the people there were over trained…..we thought that was a bit depressing….they were too prescriptive…..from every Caribbean island we’ve been to, we’ve been invited to people’s homes and they are genuinely warm….we prefer that”.
This couple’s love affair with the Caribbean has led them to make a substantial investment in the region. A few years ago, on a trip to St. Vincent and the Grenadines – a stunning archipelago some sailors describe as paradise – Carol and Adrian spotted land they could not resist. It’s called Bequia. In fact, it is now also called the second home of Carol and Adrian because the couple made a decision to build their very own vacation retreat in the tropics, on that tiny Grenadine island.
Admired for its tranquility, natural beauty and calm way of life, Bequia became the location for Carol’s and Adrian’s Cresent Beach Villa. http://www.crescentbeachvilla.com/
Adrian describes the purchase decision this way: “We spent two or three years renting properties in Mustique. We reached the point where we saw the cost for a fortnight and we realized that we don’t need to be spending so much money. We can build. We found 4 acres of land on Bequia and decided to purchase.”
What a life! A choice of incredible islands and a love affair that has spanned two decades.
Michelle was also a delight to meet and chat with as she too had an interesting story to tell. Her travels to the Caribbean began in 1964 when her husband suggested they escape the icy New York winter to sail south on the Queen Elizabeth 2 to defrost in sunny and balmy Barbados. After that first trip, Michelle and her husband adopted Barbados as their favourite vacation spot, sometimes visiting twice a year for long periods of time. This captured my interest. I asked her to explain why, and her response was similar to Carol’s & Adrian’s.
“The attitude of the people drew me in.” I’ve made some great friends here over the years. I even have a godson here!” During the years Michelle was also able to convince her family and friends back home in the U.S to visit the region. In fact, her success in convincing friends to share her experience here has earned her the moniker “Ms. Caribbean”!
In addition to finding out what has kept her coming back, I was curious to know what kinds of activities keep her engaged while visiting. Surely she has seen and done everything! Well, not quite.
Michelle has been taking cooking classes and seemed to have a great time recently as part of a small group on a tour of a fabulous historic site. Her interest in learning more about Caribbean culture and cuisine is almost insatiable. She lists this as one of her favorite things to do.
Having already received an award from the Barbados Ministry of Tourism for her multiple visits, I wondered if there was anything else the island could do to make Michelle’s experience on the island even more special. Her observation is that the island has done a good job in improving its tourism product over the years, particularly in the area of new types of accommodations for guests. Fortunately, this has been achieved “without losing the authenticity” which is highly valued by visitors. However, she thinks the island ought to “step up its game” in regard to its overall marketing efforts. “I would like to see a little more oversees PR done. I don’t want people to ask me where Barbados is anymore.”
Our special thanks to Michelle and to Carol and Adrian for sharing their stories. What’s yours? What inspired your first visit to the Caribbean? What keeps you coming back? How can we make it more enjoyable for you? We would love to hear from you!
Feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below or pass this along to anyone you think might have a unique Caribbean story to share.
Thank you for spending time with us!