TOURISM MATTERS: Staycations give value for money
I have to admit that I am a big fan of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s Staycation programme. Not simply because I am a hotelier, but I feel it offers the entire tourism industry a wonderful opportunity to showcase its product and better explain to the general public what our objectives are.
Last year, to coincide with my wife’s birthday in May and our wedding anniversary in September, we were fortunate enough to take two staycations.
The first was at the recently rebuilt Atlantis Hotel at Tent Bay, St Joseph. Sometimes we have to stop and fully appreciate that we still have people with vision and that even during the current economically challenging times, entrepreneurs like Andrew and Patricia Warden can transform a near derelict building and create what is fast becoming one of our leading boutique properties.
There was something magical about dining under the stars and seeing the lights all the way along the East Coast up to Pico Tenerife. Then to wake the following morning, open the room shutters and take in a daytime version of the same view.
It graphically reminds us what a wonderful place we live in.
The second staycation was at Coral Reef Club, a hotel with rates that would normally be inhibitive for us with our modest budget. Proudly family-run, it is beautifully kept with perfectly manicured gardens and welcoming staff who exude quiet professionalism.
As an early morning person it was a joy to rise, stroll a few steps and take a rare sea bath as the sun came up.
That’s what staycation has done for us. Allowed us to “live” experiences that ordinarily are beyond our means.
I sincerely hope that our army of civil servants, trade unions officials and politicians who have largely been shielded from the negative consequences of the recession fully embrace the programme, especially over the next two or three difficult months and play their part in minimizing reduced working hours and possible layoff of our hospitality workers.
I would also like to commend the restaurants that have developed and advertised fixed-price menus, again allowing many of us with depleted earnings to “splash out” a little more often.
Yes! We all understand the margins are tight but if the numbers are revenue-controlled, those few extra diners can make all the difference and there is a pretty good chance that the customers will return when the going gets better.
Staycations also make a lot of economic sense if you are seeking value for money. Remember, you have immediately saved at least $90 – payable just to leave the country by air and one of the highest departure taxes in the region. You also have not been forced to pay 17.5 per cent value added tax on any air travel portion – which on a flight to St Kitts or Antigua could amount to at least $122 – or be subject to a mandatory fuel surcharge of another $80.
So you would have already spent $292 per person without even having paid for the actual airfare, accommodation or foreign taxes.
In fact, that’s almost as much as a night – but for two at one of our top hotels – which in many cases includes breakfast.