Friday, March 30, 2012


FAMILY Island resorts are reporting high occupancy levels and strong bookings through April, with one hotel manager telling Tribune Business that bookings were up 8-9 per cent through next month and the remainder of the year.

Brook Castelsky, general manager of the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort on Long Island, told Tribune Business that April bookings were up substantially year-over-year.

He said: "This weekend we will be at approximately 80 per cent. We're experiencing a fairly successful Spring Break, and looking forward to finishing up strong after Easter. Spring Break is a big time of the year for us, second after Easter. Through April and throughout the rest of the year our bookings are up between 8 and 9 per cent. April is up dramatically, so we are pretty excited about our April bookings this year."

Stephen Kappeler, general manager, of the Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina, told Tribune Business that April bookings for the property were also looking good.

"Everything is well. Everyone is working, and in fact we are sold out for the next 15 days," he said. "I think generally for us, February and March were a bit softer than expected, but I think we are looking at a good April. We have the 'Ride for Hope' and the 'One Eleuthera' event, which is going to fill up a lot of rooms on the island after Easter.

"April is going to be a very good month. The fish have started to run, and we have a lot of visitors here to do fishing. Things are looking good."

Michael Weber, general manager of the Bimini Big Game Resort and Marina, a Guy Harvey Outpost property, told Tribune Business that occupancy levels were picking up at the property.

He said: "Occupancies are picking up as we're moving into Spring and into the Summer. We're already sold out for the Memorial Day weekend, which is a good sign, as two months out we are already sold out for a holiday weekend. The booking window is usually 30 days or so, but it's nice to see that already a holiday is sold out two months in advance.

"We are seeing some nice gradual bookings for our weekend business in the summer. We have been reaching out to some new markets like weddings, small meetings and that sort of thing. We are opening up to different markets versus just fishing and diving. It takes a little time to cultivate the market, but we are trying our best to get the Big Game Club into those markets and it seems to be working slowly. We are happy about that."

Mr Weber said business at the Bimini Big Game marina was picking up slowly. "The beginning of the month was not that great,' he added.

"We had 25-35 mile per hour winds blowing for almost 10 days. We had a few boats that were stuck here that couldn't leave, and the other ones that wanted to come here couldn't. The marina has been suffering a little bit, primarily due to the weather, but as we come into our high season we are pretty optimistic."

Kyle Mayse, manager of Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma, told Tribune Business that the resort was running at occupancy levels in the 70 per cent range, and was also projecting a strong April.

Mr Mayse said: "Things are not looking too bad. We are running in the 70 per cent range. Last week we were actually full. We have more persons on property than we had last year, and we are benefiting from greater exposure. Getting more airlift into Exuma is always a challenge but we are working on that. Things are looking pretty good for April. We have quite a few groups coming in. April is looking very strong."

Edward Kinney, Ritz-Carlton's vice-president of corporate affairs and brand awareness, told Tribune Business that the Abaco Club at Winding Bay was performing steadily.

Mr Kinney said: "Everything is pretty much how it has been. We continue to add new members both on the golf side and the destination club side."

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