Caribbean Meetings, 2009

July 12, 2011 by Paris and John  
Filed under Sample Articles


Although sunny skies still prevail across the Caribbean, like much of the world this region is undergoing stormy times thanks to global economic woes.

Most islands were impacted by a downturn in arrivals in 2008  and preliminary tourism numbers coming in for this year also show a decline in travelers.

There were bright spots in the region such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic which saw visitor increases in spite of the economic slowdown.

Even those healthy tourism economies were affected in the meetings and incentives market, however. “2009 is gone for the group market,” noted Marcia Bullock. “There is no new business coming in for 2009. We are lucky in that we have never had massive cancellations. We are seeing an increase in requests for 2010 and beyond, however.” Bullock predicts that the diversity of accommodation price points, the large number of new and upcoming resorts, and the convention center scheduled to open late next year will boost group numbers once again.

While numerous resorts will be unveiled in the coming year throughout the Caribbean, work on several luxury properties has been stopped either in the planning or in the construction stage as the effects of this economic hurricane remain to be seen.

Along with economic difficulties, other challenges have impacted the region. Airlift, a longtime problem for many islands, continues to be a challenge although help has come in the form of increased service from low fare carriers such as JetBlue, AirTran, Spirit and WestJet. Isolated security issues including strikes and protests in Guadeloupe and Martinique and a travel alert for Mexico including the Mexican Caribbean also plague the area.


Scheduled to open in 2012, Fairmont Anguilla will offer 140 guest rooms, 15,000 square feet of meeting space, a 15,000-square-foot Willow Stream Spa, and a Jack Nicklaus Golf Club.


The Inn at English Harbor has completed a $1.5 million renovation, upgrading its 28 guestrooms and suites as well the dining venues and grounds. The resort has also added a spa facility. Located near the entrance of this historic harbor, the resort offers 16 Junior Suites and eight deluxe junior suites decorated with antiques and including flat screen televisions, iPod docking stations, and Wi-Fi internet access.


The 411-room Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino has opened the Tradewinds Club as the second part of a $50 million renovation. The upscale, 59-room “hotel within a hotel” is located on the top floor of the resort and provides personalized service and privileges including access to the Tradewinds Club Executive Lounge, a private 1900-square-foot lounge area with a terrace. The resort also includes a 6,500-square-foot spa, and four meeting rooms as well as a 1,541-square-foot ballroom.


The British Colonial Hilton Nassau is undergoing a $15 million renovation of its 288 guestrooms, public areas, and banquet space.   All guestrooms, including 47 executive floor rooms and 23 suites, will be transformed. An additional 3,000 square feet of meeting space will be part of the renovation. Dining options will also be upgraded, and guests will enjoy a new executive lounge. , The project is expected to be complete by June 2009.

Baha Mar Resorts has signed a formal agreement with China State Construction Engineering Corporation to construct the multi-billion-dollar Baha Mar Resort on Cable Beach. The $3.6 billion project will be constructed over a two- to three-year timeline for phase one. The project includes the already-opened 694-room Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort with 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space and the 559-room Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino which underwent a $30 million renovation last year and includes 30,000 square feet of meeting space. The master plan calls for the project to encompass 3,000+ rooms to include a W Baha Mar; the St. Regis Baha Mar, and the Westin at Baha Mar. The total resort plan calls for 200,000 square feet of meeting space as well as a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course; future phases include the addition of a second golf course.


Four Seasons Resort Barbados will feature approximately 115 rooms and suites, in addition to approximately 45 residential villas on 32 acres of beachfront property. The resort will include restaurants and bars, a spa and fitness center, recreational facilities, and meeting space when it opens in 2011.


The 94-suite Pink Beach Club has completed a redesign of its meeting facility which now features three meeting spaces, each accommodating 12 to 40 attendees.The resort offers in-room spa treatments; fitness center; two tennis courts; library; business center; wireless service throughout the property and more.

Tucker’s Point Hotel & Spa is scheduled to open in April 2009 as Bermuda’s first new luxury resort in almost 40 years.  The 88-room resort includes a 10,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, a championship 18-hole Roger Rulewich designed golf course, a dive Shop and watersports center and the 5,000 square-foot Tucker’s Point Conference Centre which offers satellite conferencing. The facility’s Camden Ballroom can accommodate groups of up to 270. The resort also offers a 100-foot yacht with the capabilities of hosting cocktail receptions for 50 or sit-down dinners for up to 25 people ˆ at sea


Hilton has announced that is has entered into a franchise license agreement for the Hilton Bonaire Resort & Spa, a new and upscale property being developed in collaboration with Azul Management Bonaire, Inc. The 144-room upscale resort is expected to open in 2010.

British Virgin Islands

A 2009 opening is planned for Scrub Island, a $100 million private island development with 66 accommodations ranging from rooms and suites to two- to five-bedroom villas. The resort will also offer a spa, 60-slip marina, four restaurants and bars, natural stone amphitheater, and an astronomy observatory as well as a 2,145-square-foot ballroom, the largest in the BVI.

A 2011 opening is planned for Raffles Tortola, British Virgin Islands, a 100-room resort with 250 villas, casitas, and condominiums. The resort will offer four restaurants, three swimming pools, a fitness center, two beach clubs, and 5,000 square feet of meeting space. The resort will be located 10 minutes from Beef Island Airport.

Cayman Islands

The Reef Resort, located on Grand Cayman’s East End, has undergone an expansion and now offers 152 beachfront one- and two-bedroom suites as well as meeting space for up to 90 attendees. The resort includes a spa and the largest beachfront on the island.

Mandarin Oriental, Grand Cayman is scheduled to open in 2011 on a 10-acre site. The 114-room property will be located on Barefoot Beach, and all guest rooms will feature outdoor terraces with ocean views.

The former Grand Caymanian Resort has reopened as the 170-room Ramada Grand Caymanian Beach Club and Resort adjacent to the North Sound Club golf course. The resort offers studios as well as one- and two-bedroom suites with Wi-Fi.

In late 2011, the Wyndham Grand Bay Waterford-Cayman Islands is scheduled to open. The 130-room resort will include a 5,000-square-foot spa as well as 24-hour room and concierge service.


The 196-room Hilton Curaçao has upgraded its exterior, lobby, and meetings facilities including the renovated Willemstad Meeting Room. The hotel includes over 4,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 237-room Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino opened in February, the first branded hotel to open on the island in 15 years. The resort, which is connected to the 19th century Rif Fort, features a 15,000-square-foot casino, and will include a mall with six theaters and 50 shops, a spa, and 8,600 square feet of meeting space.

Dominican Republic

The $200 million, 138-suite Palmera de Cabarete Resort and Spa is scheduled to open in 2011. The facility will be the first five-star resort in Cabarete, a destination known for adventure sports including kite boarding, surfing, laser sailing, mountain biking, hiking and canyoning. The resort will feature three infinity pools, a 22,000 square foot spa and wellness facility, tennis, gourmet dining, room service, shops, conference center and 24-hour concierge program. 

Groundbreaking has been held for $2.5 billion Punta Perla Tourist Complex on the island’s east coast. The beachfront development will include four boutique hotels, 8,800 residential units, three golf courses, an inland marina, a beach club, an amphitheater, sports installations, commercial units, a shopping mall, a museum and more. The project, which is a 15-minute drive from the Punta Cana International Airport, is s expected to be completed within a 10- to12-year period.

The Barceló Bavaro Palace has been reopened in Punta Cana following a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation including the addition of 488 new junior suites as well as the renovation of all existing guest rooms, suites and public spaces.  The all-inclusive resort now features 1,046 deluxe guest rooms and junior suites; all junior suites offer a private balcony or terrace with whirlpool, 32” LCD televisions, high-speed wireless Internet access, environmentally-friendly light systems and water control and a large, spa-style bathroom.  The resort features an 18-hole golf course; a casino; spa; three theaters; 14 restaurants, and more.  The property is adjacent to the Barceló Bavaro Convention Center which can accommodate up to 5,000 attendees.

Moon Palace Casino, Golf & Spa Resort, located on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, has opened. The resort features a 65,500-square-foot convention center divisible into 32 sections and also includes an 18-hole championship course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

A fourth quarter 2008 opening is planned for the 497-unit Green Village at Cap Cana, A Wyndham Grand Bay Resort. The property will include one-bedroom bungalows, two-bedroom villas, and four- to six-bedroom residences plus an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course, 5,000 square feet of meeting space with access to an adjacent convention center, a 3,550-square-foot Wyndham Blue Harmony spa, fitness center, two restaurants, tennis, and more.

Development is under way on the Roco Ki resort community in Punta Cana where plans include several hotels and a Nick Faldo-designed golf course, while future phases will include the addition of a marina, an additional hotel, and shopping areas. The project will include the Westin Roco Ki Beach and Golf Resort, scheduled to open in 2010. The 337-room resort will include 56 condominium hotel suites and 20 bungalows, an 18,000-square-foot spa, and 20,000 square feet of meeting space. The Fairmont Roco Ki, set to debut in 2012, will include a 255-room hotel, a collection of condominiums, villas and estate homes, restaurants and bars, 17,500 square feet of meeting space, a 15,000-square-foot Willow Stream Spa and fitness area and pool, and beach facilities.


The 430-room Sunset Beach Resort & Spa completed a $7 million renovation in 2008 with special focus on the resort’s restaurants, lounges, public areas and landscaping. In January 2009, the resort introduced a new entertainment pavilion.

The $140 million Riu Montego Bay has opened with 681 rooms, three specialty-themed restaurants, and a conference room.

Sandals Resorts plans a 2010 opening for the 130-unit Royal Plantation Dragon Bay in Port Antonio. The $100 million expansion and redevelopment program of the former Dragon Bay hotel and villa site will include a spa and accommodations ranging from one-bedroom suites to five-star tree houses. The villas may be designated as an adults-only site, although Dragon Bay will accept children.  [NOTE: No word on meeting space at this property yet.]

Rose Hall Resort is now Rose Hall Resort & Spa—A Hilton Resort. The 488-unit resort, which recently underwent a $40 million renovation, includes 14,000 square feet of meeting space and 30,000 square feet of outdoor function space. The resort is home to the Caribbean’s largest resort water complex, spa, and the onsite 18-hole championship Cinnamon Hill Ocean Course  designed by Robert VonHagge, as well as access to 54 holes of championship golf in the Rose Hall area.

Grand Lido Negril and Grand Lido Braco are both being rebranded.

Construction is underway on the Montego Bay Convention Centre, located east of the city between the Half Moon Golf Course and Rose Hall Great House. The facility will offer over 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, over 20,000 square feet for banquets, and over 11,000 square feet of meeting space. Completion is planned for late 2010.


With 365 guest rooms and over 27,000 square feet of meeting space that, The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun has recently opened a new 17,000 square foot beach club available for group use. Available for as many as 700 attendees, the club includes 700 attendees, it includes ten private cabanas, 17 palapas and a fully equipped bar and dining area.

The 96-suite Aura Cozumel Resort Wyndham Grand Bay has opened in Cozumel. The adults-only, all-inclusive resort includes a lazy river pool, two restaurants, a business center, and a meeting room for up to 40 attendees; all guests rooms feature high-definition plasma TVs, wireless high speed Internet connection, Bose audio system, and DVD/CD or iPod player.

Edenh Luxury Riviera Cancun is under construction on the Riviera Maya by NH Hoteles; the 375-room all-inclusive is set to open in November 2008. The resort will include 394 junior suites, 156 Paradise Club master suites, and four presidential suites with private plunge pools.

Unik Island Resort & Spa is scheduled to open in Summer 2009 on Isla Mujeres, off the coast of Cancun. The property will offer 84 suites with flat screen televisions, CD/DVD players, iPod docking stations, high-speed wireless Internet, laptop-sized safes, fully stocked mini-bars and more. The resort will feature six restaurants and bars, a spa including Mayan treatments, and meeting space for up to 210 attendees.

Puerto Rico

El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa and El San Juan Hotel & Casino have joined the Waldorf Astoria Collection and the Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino is part of Conrad Hotels & Resorts, the Caribbean debut of each of these brands. Each hotel has undergone extensive renovations recently; the El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa completed a $120 million renovation in 2008 and offers over 100,000 square feet of meeting and function space including the 21,090-square-foot Grand Atlantic Ballroom. The 382-room El San Juan Hotel & Casino underwent a $52 million renovation completed in 2007 and offers 35,000 square feet of event space. The 570-room Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza completed a $70 million dollar redesign last year and offers 40,000 square feet of meeting space.

The W Retreat and Spa—Vieques Island is scheduled to open in October 2009. The former Martineau Bay property has received $30 million in renovations and will now include 157 guest rooms and four meeting rooms totaling 3,548 square feet; a golf course is planned within two years.

Construction continues at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. The fully-restored property is scheduled to open in December 2011 and will feature 305 guest rooms, including 80 Commodore Suites and 40 Biltmore Suites in two, 11-story adjacent towers.  The property will offer 15,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and four restaurants.

The Bahía Beach, St. Regis Resort is under construction 16 miles from the San Juan airport. The 139-room resort is set on a private beach and scheduled for a November 2010 opening. The resort will feature beachfront pool facilities, a 120-seat restaurant, Trent Jones Jr. Golf Course , a Remède Spa and a St. Regis Restaurant located at the Bahía Village.

The JW Marriott Hotel & Resort at Coco Beach will break ground by the end of 2008 in Rio Grande. The $250 million hotel will feature 197 guest rooms and a 174-room condo-hotel with 11 restaurants. The property will include a 12,000-square-foot ballroom, a 6,000-square-foot junior ballroom and nine additional boardrooms for a total of 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

Groundbreaking took place in October 2008 on the $172 million Regent Puerto Rico Beach Resort & Spa within the Palmas Del Mar community in Humacao. The 148-room property will include 96 guest rooms, 52 condo-hotel suites and five spa suites as well as a 16,000-square-foot spa, three restaurants, three pools and small group meeting space.

The Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Resort is undergoing a $40 million capital improvement project over the next two years which will include upgrades to the guest rooms, public areas, restaurants, and golf courses. The resort offers 48,000 square feet of function space, a 7,000-square-foot casino; two 18-hole golf courses designed by Tom and George Fazio and Greg Norman, a 7,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, 11 restaurants, an international tennis center and more.

Construction will begin later this year on the Marriott Courtyard Convention District Hotel. The 300-room property is scheduled to open in late 2012.

The 503-room, $209 million Sheraton Puerto Rico Convention Center Hotel is scheduled to open in by the end of 2009 as the anchor hotel for the convention center. Along with a casino and entertainment complex, the hotel offer 35,000 square feet of function space including the 16,300-square foot San Juan Grand Ballroom, the largest hotel ballroom in San Juan, a smaller, 7,700-square ballroom plus seven other meeting rooms.

A $70 million Aloft Hotel will begin construction in May. Planned for completion in Spring 2012, the 252-room property will be an extension to the Sheraton Puerto Rico Convention Center Hotel.

St. Kitts & Nevis

The Four Seasons Resort Nevis is planned to reopen in November following renovations necessitated by Hurricane Omar.

The new Christophe Harbour development is a 2,400-acre project including a marina village offering docking spaces for private yachts, numerous restaurants and boutiques, and an 18-hole Tom Fazio championship golf course. Scheduled to open at Christophe Harbour in 2011, the 125-room Mandarin Oriental, St. Kitts will offer Lagoon Suites designed as over-water bungalows and a 4,800-square-foot beachfront Presidential Suite. The property will also include a 225-seat ballroom and three additional meeting rooms as well as a 15,000-square-foot spa.

St. Lucia

The Landings St. Lucia, A RockResort has opened 60 new villa suites, bringing the resort’s total to 122. The resort also debuted an 812-square-foot meeting facility joining a beachside outdoor space available for receptions of up to 200 attendees. Additional new meeting space is planned for later in the year. Each of The Landings’ one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites includes a kitchen and two balconies or landscaped terraces, many with heated, jetted plunge pools. The resort offers a private yacht harbor, two tennis courts, three pools, and a 7,000-square-foot RockResorts Spa. When completed in 2010, the resort will offer a total of 231 suites.

Raffles St. Lucia is set to open in 2011. The 200-room resort will offer a 10,000-square-foot spa, Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, and five pools.

The Westin Le Paradis Beach & Golf Resort, St. Lucia is scheduled to open in 2010. The 192-room resort will include over 23,000 square feet of function space encompassing two ballrooms. six conference rooms, and two outdoor pavilions. The resort sits on 554 acres with a one-mile coastline and will include a Greg Norman-designed golf course; future plans call for the addition of a marina.

The Jalousie Plantation will be rebranded The Tides Sugar Beach in 2010. After closing in early summer 2009 for a $100 million renovation, the 192-acre resort will reopen with 150 villas and guestrooms with private pools, four restaurants, and spa.

St. Martin

Radisson St. Martin Resort, Marina & Spa has opened on the French side of St. Martin. Formerly operated as L’Habitation de Lonvilliers, the resort underwent an $80 million renovation and now includes 63 suites and 189 guest rooms, a 150-slip marina, full service spa and more. The resort features over 7500 square feet of meeting and event space.

Turks and Caicos

Gansevoort Turks + Caicos, A Wymara Resort has opened in Providenciales on Grace Bay Beach. Offering 91 oversized guest rooms including four penthouse suites, the resort is centered around a 7,0000-square-foot infinity-edge pool. Other features include Exhale, the first Caribbean location for the spa brand; Bagatelle Bistrot and Bagatelle Beach Club overseen by restaurant and nightlife operators, The ONE Group; a full fitness center; and 600 square feet of meeting space.

The 251-unit Wyndham Cacique Royal on Pirate’s Bay on Grand Turk is scheduled to open in early 2009.

A 2010 opening is scheduled for the Mandarin Oriental Dellis Cay, Turks and Caicos. The 197-room beachfront resort will include a 22,000-square-foot spa.

Third Turtle Club & Spa, a RockResort, is scheduled to open in 2011. The Providenciales resort will offer one- to four-bedroom residences and suites; the property will include a spa, numerous restaurants, beach club, and yacht harbor.

U.S. Virgin Islands

Scheduled for a 2010 opening, the 400-room Wyndham St. Croix Golf Resort and Casino is part of a $250 million complex that includes a new 43,000-square foot conference center. The 294-acre property will feature a 25,000 square-foot casino, 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, 17,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, four restaurants, and more.

The 180-room The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas has added a second private catamaran. Kekoa is used as a private guest shuttle to St. John and is also available for available for private charters and cocktail cruises for up to 60 guests.  Last year, the resort completed a $47 million renovation, adding the Caribbean’s first Prada Spa. The property includes over 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

On St. Thomas, Jumeirah Botany Bay Resort is scheduled to open in 2011 with 84 rooms just 15 minutes from the airport.

On St. Croix, Carambola Beach Resort has announced that it will join the Renaissance Hotels & Resorts family. The 151-room resort will undergo a $20 million renovation and expansion of its accommodations, 19,000 square feet of meeting and event space, restaurants and lounges and public spaces.


Tax Benefits

Meetings held on islands with Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA) with the U.S. are tax-deductible including: Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles (Sint Maarten, Curaçao, Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius), St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Mexico also offers a “Taso Cero” or no-tax policy for meetings, conventions, or expositions, making lodging, food and drink, venue rental, airport transfers, and other items free of the Value Added Tax. Also, due to the “Preferred Nation Agreement” between the United States and Mexico, qualifying expenses are treated the same as if groups had a program in the continental U.S.

Meetings held in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are tax-deductible due to their U.S. status.

Trip Tips

In February, the CDC changed its vaccination recommendations for travelers to Trinidad; today the CDC recommends a Yellow Fever vaccine for travelers whose itinerary includes Trinidad. CDC notes that there is a lower risk of transmission in Port of Spain.

The State Department issued a travel alert for the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique following widespread labor strikes. The present alert expires May 13, 2009. A travel alert for Mexico remains in effect until August 20, 2009. Although the alert specifically warns of increased violence along the US border, it notes, “U.S. citizens traveling throughout Mexico should exercise caution in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times.”

Passports are not required of US citizens returning from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Many travelers to the USVI take a day trip to the nearby British Virgin Islands and a passport is required for that visit.


Just east of Montego Bay, Jamaica, the Johnny Cash Estate was home to the country music legend for three decades. Today the historic home on Cinnamon Hill is available for group functions. Offering a view of the Caribbean as well as waterfalls and tropical gardens, the home can accommodate receptions of up to 350 guests.

Puerto Rico’s La Princesa was once a penitentiary in the heart of Old San Juan. Today the venue is popular for its promenade along San Juan Bay. The building is backed by “muralla,” an 18th century 20-foot-thick stone wall which once surrounded the city. The restored site is today home to an art gallery and the headquarters for the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Evening functions at the site, which is includes a bronze sculpture depicting the island’s cultural roots, can be arranged for up to 500 attendees.

Aruba is now the home of the largest water park in the Caribbean and Latin America. The $14 million Morgan’s Island opened in December and spans 28,000 square feet. The park is home to the second tallest free-fall waterslide in the world and can accommodate up to 3,000 attendees. 297-587-8788;

On Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Xcaret has opened a new wine cellar available for small group functions. Vino de México, a $1 million facility, is designed to share the history of Mexican wine and is the only wine cellar in the world that stocks Mexican wines exclusively. The Sommelier’s office, stocked with the most exclusive vintages, is available for groups of 10 while the tasting room can accommodate groups of 25 persons. A third room is filled with exhibits on winemaking. +52 (998) 8830470;

Additional Captions

Tucker’s Point Hotel & Spa is scheduled to open in April 2009 as Bermuda’s first new luxury resort in almost 40 years. The 88-room resort includes a 10,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, a championship 18-hole Roger Rulewich designed golf course, a dive Shop and watersports center and the 5,000 square-foot Tucker’s Point Conference Centre which offers satellite conferencing. The facility’s Camden Ballroom can accommodate groups of up to 270. The resort also offers a 100-foot yacht available for cocktail receptions for 50 or seated dinners for up to 25 guests.

Scheduled for a September 2009 opening, The Palmyra, A Solís Resort & Spa will be located in the Rose Hall area near Montego Bay with 299 units including 11 three-story villas and eight beachfront cabanas. The resort will offer two oceanview pools, four restaurants, a full business center as well as Wi-Fi access in public areas, and 23,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space including a 5,500 square-foot ballroom. The resort will also be home to the Caribbean’s first ESPA spa, a 30,000-square-foot, two-story standalone facility.

Grand Velas All Suites & SPA Resort Riviera Maya has opened in Mexico with 493 suites, each more than 1,000 square-feet. The all-inclusive, adults-only resort offers 91,457 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space that can be converted into 30 breakout rooms and two ballrooms with an additional six meeting rooms and two offices. The resort features seven restaurants, a 76,000-square-foot spa specializing in treatments inspired by ancient cultures from around the world; and dedicated butler service for each guest.

Unik Island Resort & Spa is scheduled to open this summer on Isla Mujeres, off the coast of Cancun. The property offers 84 suites with flat screen televisions, CD/DVD players, iPod docking stations, high-speed wireless Internet, laptop-sized safes, fully stocked mini-bars and more. The resort features six restaurants and bars, a spa including Mayan treatments, and meeting space for up to 210 attendees.


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