Turn a fling into a full-blown love affair by making sure clients who return to the Caribbean pick the right spot, says Jo Cooke.
Swaying green palms set against a backdrop of sea as blue as the sky – it would take a heart of stone not to fall in love with the Caribbean. But when you add good service, great value accommodation and plenty of flights from across the UK, you’ve got all the elements necessary to prolong the affair so that it lasts a life time.
While a certain spot may have stolen their hearts on their first visit, to fuel their passion, encourage clients to keep exploring. We suggest destinations for second timers, based on what they loved first time around.
IF THEY LOVED PUNTA CANA…
Try the Samana Peninsula
Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic’s east coast getaway, gives you a taste of the country’s diverse offering. A swathe of palm-fringed beach guaranteed to take your breath away, all-inclusives to suit every budget, water sports galore, world-class golf and day trips to the rainforest interior. Clients who rated Punta Cana are likely to love the Samana Peninsula to the north. There are fewer hotels and you’re closer to nature.
It’s a great base for pony trekking to the El Limon waterfall and visiting Los Haitises National Park with its hiking trails, bird-watching boat trips and ancient cave system. Plus the beaches are fabulous. The waters around Samana are also one of the best places in the world to go whale watching, with thousands of humpbacks offshore between January and March.
Sample product: Thomson offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa, Samana Town, from £1,179 including flights.
0871 231 5595
IF THEY LOVED NEGRIL…
Try Treasure Beach
Jamaica’s north coast resort of Negril, with its seven-mile stretch of sand, live reggae music, mesmerising sunsets and mix of budget rooms, cool boutique hotels and quality all-inclusives, rarely disappoints. However, for an even more low-key, laid-back, authentically Jamaican escape, direct second timers to Treasure Beach. Lying on the super sunny south coast, this resort is a real find. There are beaches galore and they’re not busy or bustling.
Jake’s hotel is the best base. At the heart of the resort it has a chic, rustic, hippy vibe and quirky, romantic cottages that are built right up to the surf. There are more top attractions on your doorstep than in Negril, too, including idyllic YS Falls, the Appleton Estate rum factory tour, the eccentric off-shore Pelican Bar, Lover’s Leap cliff-top viewpoint, Bamboo Avenue and Black River crocodile safaris.
Sample product: Complete Caribbean offers seven nights’ room-only at Jake’s Treasure Beach from £1,395 in March including flights and transfers.
01423 531 031
IF THEY LOVED WEST COAST BARBADOS…
Try the east
Boasting some of the region’s finest restaurants, best hotels and a year-round feast of festivals, cultural and sporting events, it’s no wonder Barbados is a perennial favourite. The hub of the action is the west coast, blessed with beach after glorious beach of soft sand and calm, blue waters.
However, according to Chris Edwards, general manager at Complete Caribbean, the East Coast, with its dramatic cliffs and lively Atlantic surf, has just as much charm. “It’s pretty, lush, uncommercialised, and has a wonderfully wild feel, which makes me think of the days of buccaneers,” he says.
Sample product: Complete Caribbean offers seven nights’ with continental breakfast at the Atlantis in Bathsheba in March from £1,365 including flights and transfers.
01423 531 031
IF THEY LOVED SainT LUCIA’S NORTH…
Try the south
First timers generally opt for the northwest coast, where the island’s finest beaches are edged by top-name hotels including Sandals and Almond. During their stay, clients will no doubt be wowed by the tousled rainforest backdrop to their resort or have experienced it via zip wire or aerial tramway.
When eager to return, Katherine Hobbs, Caribtours product manager, suggests getting closer to that mesmerizingly, lush hinterland. “Swap the more developed north for a stay in the Soufrière area and you’ll have the Piton Mountains and rainforest on your doorstep.” Anse Chastanet offers the best of both worlds. A jungle-shrouded beach and direct access to hiking and biking trails, plus many of the arty rooms are fringed by tropical foliage and offer indoor-outdoor living.
Sample product: Caribtours offers seven nights’ with breakfast at Anse Chastanet from £1,599 including flights, transfers and use of a private lounge at Gatwick.
020 7751 0660
IF THEY LOVED NASSAU…
Try Great Exuma
Nassau is the gateway to The Bahamas, and the animated capital is a great introduction to this island nation. To experience a slower pace of life, the small but perfectly-formed island of Great Exuma is a good choice. Arriving by domestic flight the views of the swirling ocean colours beneath you are spectacular.
The warm Bahamian welcome you receive from islanders seems to be even more sincere here, and there are amazing beaches, fishing, kayaking, snorkelling, and diving, including the Thunderball Grotto, which has appeared in not one but two James Bond films. Sandals Emerald Bay is one of the best hotels on the island, set on a mile of sand and with an 18-hole Gregg Norman-designed golf course.
Sample product: Bahamas Flavour offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma from £1,999 including flights and transfers for bookings made by March 31 for travel until December 28.
0870 066 9975 TW
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