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June 8, 2012updated Feb 11, 2013

Caribbean Turns To Elite Travelers With New Luxury Resorts, Conference Facilities and Private Jet Terminals

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Dorado Beach at the planned Ritz Carlton Reserve in Puerto RicoCourtesy of the Ritz-Carlton ReserveCourtesy of the Ritz-Carlton ReserveNEW YORK, New York – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

A second Fixed Based Operator (FBO) is being planned for Providenciales, underscoring Turks & Caicos strong position with private jet travelers. Leading the Caribbean’s focus on attracting more high-spending elite travelers, Turks & Caicos Director of Tourism Ralph Higgs cited the new private jet facility as proof of his destination’s strong appeal to the Ultra-High Net Worth market.

While dependable commercial aviation service continues to be a challenge for most Caribbean destinations, according to Bombardier’s latest forecast $626 billion in new private jets will be delivered in the next 20 years providing the region’s countries and territories a unique target providing big economic impact.

Nicole Rodriguez, Chief Marketing Officer of Puerto Rico Tourism Company pointed to multiple new openings in the high-end segment. Royal Isabela is a links golf course described as “Scotland in the Caribbean” by Golf Digest. The first phase of The lodge’s 20 planned casitas opened in April.

Meanwhile O:live, a boutique luxury hotel inspired by a young Puerto Rican couple’s destination wedding in Sorrento, Italy, provides a city-based experience with lagoon views from its high perch. At 17 rooms the property is perfect for full takeovers and special events.

Showing yet another aspect of Puerto Rico, The Tarpon Nest Lodge provides an angler’s experience set in a mangrove forest less than 10 minutes from Luis Munoz Marin Airport.

Yet the biggest news will take place December 12, 2012 with the opening The Reserve, Ritz-Carlton’s ultra-luxe resort with a mix of hotel rooms, villas and real estate.

In Bermuda, Tourism Minister The Honorable Wayne Fubert has created five and 10 year business plans that “lay out clear objectives.” Within weeks he will reveal new branding and under discussion is a new convention center, gaming and two new resort projects.

Fubert says Bermuda’s appeal is convenience and safety, “You can go anywhere anytime and not worry.” With a strong business base, tourism is expected to be a big contributor in the future with a goal of increasing tourism-related jobs to 6,000 from 3,600 and earnings growth to $1.6 billion from the current $685 million in the next decarde.

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Specifically Fubert envisions more group and meeting tourism in the February to April and October to December shoulder seasons. He specifically noted large celebrations such as elite traveler birthday and anniversary parties. Top Shop owner Sir Philip Green spent a reported $25 million for a birthday bash earlier this year in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. One tourism official noted, “The trickle down effect was incredible. Hundreds of locals were employed to make party costumes, floral displays and special effects. There were local businesses that made more money in a week than they normally do in a year.”

The Honorable Damion Crawford, Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment said Jamaica wants to attract more private jets to its new Ian Fleming International Airport. He is expecting a possible Jamaica Gold Silver Bronze sweep of the 100 Meter Final at the London Olympics to bring the destination global publicity August 5, a day before his country celebrates its 50th Anniversary of independence.

The country, he told Elite Traveler in an exclusive interview, is moving closer to gaming, while its new convention center creates a need to reposition the destination as not just for leisure, but also meetings and groups. “We have to show consumers the new sides of Jamaica,” he said.

In Anguilla, Chief Minister Hubert Hughes said several projects halted during the recession are now being restarted, and he is actively seeking investors to build new affordable price point resorts to diversify the base. Leandro Rizzuto, the Forbes List billionaire with a reported net worth of $1.8 billion and owner of CuisinArt Resort, is taking over the Temenos project where he is upgrading the golf course with plans to build a larger resort complex. Many jets use Anguilla as a base to drop passengers headed to St. Bart’s, but Hughes expects the new projects to mean more will stay on his island.

Underscoring the region’s bet on private jet traveler, Higgs noted over $10 million dollars in airport and runway investments in Turks & Caicos are aimed specifically at making the destination even easier access for elite travelers. On the hotel front Amanyara is expanding with speculation another five star property will be announced soon. Last year luxury hotels and resorts globally captured $50 billion in room revenue alone, according to Smith Travel Research, and private jet travelers spend nearly $400,000 per year on hotels, resorts, spas and villas, according to Prince & Associates.

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