Jamaica’s Half Moon epitomizes the Caribbean travel experience. Timeless elegance blends seamlessly with the forces of mother nature to create an experience that is the soul of the island. BTN spoke to the resort’s managing director, Richard Whitfield, on his plans for 2010.
BTN: What trends in tourism do you predict for 2010?
RW: Predicting anything in this business seems to be more difficult now than ever before. However, after eighteen months in deep recession, I expect to see more people recognize their need for a break. I also expect to see them seeking value more than discounts and I expect to see more people travelling, perhaps for shorter trips.
BTN: What are you hoping to achieve at this year’s CHTA Marketplace?
RW: Caribbean Marketplace is a wonderful opportunity to connect with travel partners, both old and new. Our old acquaintances are brought up to date with the continuing evolution of facilities at Half Moon, and through our newly-made connections we broaden the reach of our marketing efforts.
BTN: What kind of year do you envisage 2010 to be for Half Moon?
RW: I anticipate that 2010 will be a year of delivering meaningful vacation experiences to our clients. By working in close collaboration with our travel partners in the passionate pursuit of our guests’ satisfaction we can create vacations that add value to the lives of our visitors beyond the fleeting benefits of any deep discounts they might obtain elsewhere. Our resort is in tip top condition, the airlift to Jamaica is excellent and I envisage a steady recovery of occupancy and revenues in 2010.
BTN: What in the way of plans or developments are currently underway at Half Moon?
RW: We have just emerged from a seven-year period of massive infrastructure and facility improvements at Half Moon. These have included the very popular new Hibiscus Suites, the renowned, 68,000 sq. ft. Fern Tree Spa, the Anancy Children’s Village, the brand new Teen Centre and the remodeling of our 18-hole championship golf course. We are planning more improvements in our restaurants and bars but these are likely to commence in 2011. Renovations and upgrades of our guest suites and villas will continue this year.
BTN: How would you describe the Half Moon experience? How do you see this evolving?
RW: Half Moon is a resort like no other. Whether you see it in the smiling faces of the children learning about Jamaica’s folklore in our Anancy children’s village; in the melding of sea and land in the treatments at our Fern tree Spa; in the joyous hospitality exuded by the housekeepers, butlers and cooks at our Royal Villas; in the uncanny guidance given by your caddy on the golf course; or in the welcoming smiles of Alford Anglin 40-year veteran of the bell desk, Solomon Gardner the face of our Sugar Mill restaurant for 46 years and Wordsworth Watson 51-year veteran of the Estates department – to vacation at Half Moon is to look into the very soul of Jamaica. A heartfelt Jamaican experience with genuine hospitality delivered in that inimitable Jamaican style.
BTN: In November you were voted “Caribbean’s Leading Conference Hotel”, Jamaica’s Leading Resort” and Jamaica’s Leading Golf Resort” at the World Travel Awards. What are you doing to reign supreme?
RW: Listening to our guests and travel partners, responding to their evolving demands and striving to do it right the first time and every time.
BTN: What is your strategy for dealing with the global downturn? How has it changed your role?
RW: Our strategy has been to ensure the quality of the vacation experience at Half Moon remains at its highest while adjusting our behind-the-scenes procedures in delivering this experience. The strategy was developed with the input of all 700 of our employees and has been enthusiastically and successfully implemented with their support. My role has not changed significantly. I have been privileged to continue my role as the conductor of the magical symphony being played at Half Moon – the most magical resort in the Caribbean.
For more information visit www.halfmoon.com