Almond’s Paradise “Too Popular�

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The newly opened Almond Morgan Bay Beach Resort in St. Lucia, is experiencing the kind of "problem" that could be the envy of any hotelier. In just 14 weeks of operation, the hotel has been registering a 100 percent occupancy rate and has consistently been overbooked.

To circumvent this "problem," management has instituted a novel program that's been gaining tremendous popularity with guests. Routinely, guests are offered a virtual two-for-one vacation and those taking up the offer are transferred for five days to one of the other two Almond properties in Barbados all expenses paid.

Guests, especially those on extended vacations, have been grabbing at the packages like hot buttered Caribbean hops bread. "This way we avoid turning people away and at the same time we keep the business in the Almond family," says Frank King, Director of Hotel Operations at Almond Morgan Bay.

Another "happy" problem arising out this over booking surrounds the issue of staffing. When the hotel initially opened in November of 2005, it hired an almost fresh kitchen crew many of whom had not previously worked in the service industry. This, with the thinking, according to Bernhard Antoine, Human Resources Manager, that with an initial low occupancy rate, they will have an opportunity to train these employees on the job while they prepare for the peak season boom. They were wrong. Having had this 100 percent occupancy rate for almost every month since opening, management has been forced to institute an accelerated training program.

It's a "problem" that Antoine considers both a blessing and a curse. "It's a blessing because retaining too much of the old employees from the former establishment we took over,  would mean that we were going to be hiring a culture," he says. Even so, the few employees retained from what was formerly the St. James Club all had to be rehired and were in fact interviewed for their current positions. The areas that suffered a complete staff overhaul during the transition were guest services and the kitchen staff.

Almond Morgan Bay, located on St. Lucia's West Coast, is the first of the Almond family of properties located outside of Barbados. But with its 250 rooms located on an expansive 22 acres of land and a luxurious stretch of sandy beach, it is fast becoming the toast of St. Lucia's hospitality industry. With a four-star rating, and an impressive all-inclusive package, the hotel offers and idyllic weekend getaway as well as the perfect destination for long stay overs. Featuring four pools, including one kiddie pool, a swim- up bar, four elegant gourmet restaurants, three of them al a carte, a kid's club and teen center, a full range of water sports, a fitness center, tennis court, wedding and golf options, the hotel is an attractive location for singles, couples and family vacationers. Families especially from the United Kingdom Italy and Canada are the most frequent visitors to St. Lucia and Almond.

At present, there is a drive to increase US visitorship. This, particularly with Air Jamaica's return to providing airlift to St. Lucia and its reintroduction of non stop service to the island three days a week. Last month, Air Jamaica returned to flying to St. Lucia after an absence from the country for close to a year. This partnership of Air Jamaica and a new hotel facility such as Almond has been lauded by those in the tourism sector.

By winter 2006, the hotel will be expanded by 100 rooms, 75 of which will be one bedroom suites, a new full service spa and the addition of the signature Tommy's Rum Shop. In all, Almond Morgan Bay offers an exquisite vacation and for a wide variety of tastes and lives up to its philosophy and promise of being “For you, About You!�

For your vacation plans please call 758-450-2511 or visit: For New York City callers contact 212-764-0340, the Atrebor Group

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