One constant in business is that consumer preferences evolve. In the context of tourism in Barbados, I believe that three important consumer trends presently affecting our industry are the trends towards more residential style accommodations, more multi-generational travel and a greater importance being placed on value.
The trend towards resort/residential style accommodation has been evident both internationally and in Barbados. Internationally, this is demonstrated by the popularity of home and apartment rental sites like Airbnb.com and Homeaway.com. In Barbados, our tourism landscape has evolved with the recent closure of many traditional hotels and the construction of more and more condominium type developments – including Sapphire Beach and Ocean Two on the South Coast and Port Ferdinand, St. Peter’s Bay and the ultra-luxurious One Sandy Lane on the West Coast.
The Crane has been developing luxurious residential style accommodations since 1999 on the South East Coast of the island. We designed our residences to make our guests feel right at home, with separate bedrooms and living spaces, full kitchens, powder rooms, marble bathrooms and large terraces. Uniquely, we also set out to marry these residences with the amenities and services of a 5-star resort by including 5 restaurants, two bars, multiple pools, retail shopping, a day spa, flood-lit tennis courts, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, a beach elevator and acres of beautiful landscaping in addition to all the services expected of a luxury resort.
Another recent trend has been the marked increase in multi-generational travel. As baby boomers reach retirement age, they are enjoying greater amounts of leisure time and taking extended vacations with their children and grandchildren, particularly for important life events like birthdays and anniversaries. This places a unique demand on hospitality suppliers to provide larger accommodations for larger families and at the same time meet the needs of different generations. To fulfill this demand, I believe the hospitality industry has to adapt in many ways, particularly architecturally.
One of the ways The Crane has addressed this trend is through a “lock-off” concept whereby a three bedroom residence can be converted into a two bedroom residence with a separate “lock-off” studio and a two bedroom residence can be converted into a one bedroom residence with a “lock-off” studio. This allows large families to enjoy time together when needed while still allowing individuals and couples to have spaces that are private when required – all in the same residence.
Our new development Beach Houses – a low density resort community at Skeete’s Bay, St. Philip featuring two and three bedroom villas – also features the flexibility of this room configuration and both the main residences and “lock-off” studios enjoy panoramic ocean views, infinity edge pools with hot tubs, private patios, gardens with hammocks and BBQ grills.
Finally, many tourism experts have identified a post-recession trend towards value. Even luxury tourism has proven no exception. Clearly, luxury and value in tourism products are no longer mutually exclusive.
At The Crane, we have always worked to deliver value in everything we do. Bypassing expensive third party suppliers, we employ over 400 people responsible for all aspects of resort operations including food and beverage service, pool maintenance, spa service, security, laundry, landscaping and appliance repairs. This vertically integrated approach allows us to enhance our value proposition by driving down costs in order to deliver value in both the sale of real estate and in our resort operations.