1. 2018 was a record-setting year for Antigua and Barbuda as it welcomed over one million visitors. Moreover Antigua and Barbuda tourism has seen a 12% increase in stay over visitor arrival this year. What is your vision on the tourism industry in the country? And where is it heading to?

The industry in Antigua is definitely growing and hopefully we can get better and better year after year. We definitely need more rooms on the island but from a tourism point of view, Antigua is a great destination. We have a lot to offer, I think even better than some of the other islands in the Caribbean, we have beautiful beaches and scenery.

 

2. You are a small boutique hotel. What is the concept behind the beach club?

Buccaneer is very small; we only have 20 rooms. What we offer is a very quiet, calm place
to sit back, relax and enjoy yourself while getting a very personalized service. Our manager lives on premises, so she is always available, and our staff delivers a great overall experience. Our repeat guest rate is very good, the repeat guests love the property. We do not have a restaurant on premises but there is a great restaurant right at the front of the property. Each one of the rooms is self-contained so you can cook during your stay or you can dine out. There are a wide variety of restaurants only 5 to 10 minutes’ drive away. The hotel is not all-inclusive but it gives a good experience. It is a cozy, quiet location for anyone who wants to relax.

 

3. Please tell us more about the evolution and the amenities that you offer at Buccaneer Beach Club? What has been the growth strategy of the beach club?

We are located on a very popular beach, which is the Dickenson Bay and we have a pool as well. The rooms are all self-contained; each has a balcony and a view of the beautiful garden. We pride ourselves in our gardens and the upkeep of the property. Because it is a small hotel, we upgrade it every year changing different elements here and there in effort to maintain the property. We do offer Free Wi-Fi at Buccaneer Beach Club. We understand that accessible and reliable Wi-Fi service is very important for our guests, especially the ones on business trips to have access to good internet so we’ve invested a lot of time and funds in bettering this experience.

 

4. You have 20 rooms. What is your occupancy rate in low and in high season? What are your objectives for 2020?

We do not really have low and high seasons because during the off season we cater to a lot of business travelers, so we run pretty much between 70% to 95% occupancy all year around. It may fluctuate sometimes during the hurricane season, but we have been fortunate to have a decent occupancy rate as we cater to both the tourism sector and the business travelers from the Caribbean and outside the region.

 

5. What is the clientele are you aiming to get in, your target market and your room rates?

Our room rates during off season are $190 per night for the garden view and $220 per night for the pool view. During the season, it goes up a little bit but we maintain a fairly decent room rate throughout the year compared to what we offer in terms of the size of the rooms. They are large rooms with 660 to 700 square feet and a separate bedroom and bathroom. We have 16 one bedrooms and 2 two bedroom cottages right on the beach. The two bedroom cottages have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living and dining room, kitchen and laundry facilities. It is a home away from home.

 

6. We are focusing on showcasing the top hotels and resorts of the island; we are
in talks with the Royalton, Sandals, Starfish Jolly Beach Resort, Elite Islands Resort and some boutique hotels such as Siboney Beach Club, Ocean Point Resort… What sets you apart from them? What can the host expect from the Buccaneer Beach Club experience?

We are located on one of the most prestigious beaches in Antigua, the Dickenson Bay. It is
10 minutes away from the airport and 10 minutes away from town. Our location and being a cozy boutique hotel on the North side of the island sets us apart from other properties. We are in the middle of the action and close to everything. If you are looking for an all-inclusive resort, then Buccaneer may not be the place for you. The one thing that we pride ourselves on as a small boutique hotel is making everything accessible and getting you services that would not be accessible in a large hotel, our front desk helps with that.
Our front desk staff is equipped to assist our guest with the different tours and activities
offered on island, we advise them on the experience that would be best suited for them and then convey that information to the tour representatives.

 

7. As agreed with Hon. Charles Fernandez, Minister of Tourism and Investment, we will be publishing our report about Antigua & Barbuda in Miami Herald on February 14th 2020, Valentines Day. Please tell us what makes Buccaneer Beach Club the perfect honeymoon destination and the services that you offer?

We are a very small hotel offering personalized services. Providing anything that you require would not be an issue for us. The beauty of it is that our manager is always accessible; there is nothing that we cannot plan if stated in advance. The fun part is that the property is right on the beach and with a restaurant in front of the hotel. People have been coming back for many years, they know the staff by their first names and the staff knows them by their first names. The friendliness of the staff and the whole personalized experience is the main attraction. Our tagline is “Come as a guest, leave as a friend”.

 

8. Antigua and Barbuda has strong bilateral links with the United States and especially Florida. Which marketing strategies are you currently using to get to these clients in the U.S and how would you like to develop them?

A lot of our business comes from repeat guests; their referrals and comments on social media are key for us and really drive the business. We get a lot of business travelers, they like the sizes of the rooms, the fact that they have a table to work on, a good Wi-Fi connection and a small kitchenette. We also have a grocery package so if you do not have time, we will do the grocery shopping for you before you arrive to the property. Once again, we have this personalized touch that separates us from the big ones that just know the guests as a number.

 

9. You own the Buccaneer Beach Club as well as being the GM for Automotive Art.
What do you feel most proud of in your personal life?

I have always been in the retail industry and moving from retail into the tourism industry has been a huge step. We opened Buccaneer 12 years ago, it was actually a cricket World Cup (2007) incentive act, we decided to have this venture open for the World Cup. We are one of the pilot projects of the World Cup incentive act and we were one of the few hotels to actually finish in time and open. That along with the fact that I was successfully able to run a business in a sector that I had no experience in before was a great accomplishment.
Buccaneer had 20 rooms from the beginning, we have not added any rooms but we have constantly been doing renovations. We added a manager’s room on site, we expanded the office but from the accommodation point of view it has been the same because we have no more space to build on, however, we do have plans to acquire other properties and expand.

 

10. What is your final message for Miami Herald readers who consider Antigua & Barbuda as a potential tourism destination? Why does Buccaneer Beach Club offer the best hospitality experience?

We offer the best hospitality because of our small size and close-knit staff who offer our guest personalized services and just about anything that our guest requires. Though Buccaneer Beach Club is small, it is cozy, and our level of customer service makes our guests feel welcomed and more than just a number. When you stay at Buccaneer you become a part of our family. The staff that we have here is great, they treat the guests in a way that by day two, they already know what the guests want. We also have multilingual staff members; we can communicate with you in your native language.

 

INTERVIEW MIAMI HERALD