Tag

resort

Browsing

A sweet reprise in Windjammer Landing, St. Lucia

Imagine lying on a beach, completely isolated from your busy life back home. Armed with a book and a strawberry daiquiri, you walk down the hillside from your private villa towards the oceans, the sweet smell of salt water rushing over you.

Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort is located in St. Lucia, along the coast of Labrelotte Bay. The resort is made of stunning villas with ocean and hillside views, complete with kitchens for when your family doesn’t feel like restaurant dining, Wi-Fi for reaching your loved ones back home, and upgraded bath amenities for absolute relaxation.

What makes Windjammer Landing unique? According to Scott Seger, managing director of Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, “it starts and ends with the staff. Having lived in several Caribbean islands, the people of St Lucia are, in my opinion, the friendliest and genuine.”

Seger describes the resort as a boutique-resort feel, meaning it’s large enough that guests never run out of things to do, but small enough that individual needs are met. Groups and families are welcome to stay in personalized villas with staff available to help book adventure tours, spa visits, and reserve space in one the numerous restaurants available on the resort.

“All travellers are different so finding what works best for one is tough,” Seger said. “The great thing about Windjammer Landing is we can be a great fit for couples and families. We can help create your perfect holiday. Beach dinners for two and five restaurants designed for families with dietary concerns. Our villas can provide the setting for romance with special touches with you in mind. We can customize your time here to get the most your holiday.”

This customization is what guests remember the most. Tripadvisor reviews show staff were incredibly accommodating and customer service was top notch. Travellers marvelled at how the resort was perfectly populated so the beaches weren’t overcrowded, even with the number of families visiting. Cleanliness was another common theme, as well as the quality of food on the premises.

The resort is all-inclusive, which means travellers can participate in complimentary windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddle boarding. Guests will enjoy Mediterranean-style architecture, over 64,000 square feet of pristine beaches, nightly entertainment, and of course, fine dining.

“Our most popular event is our Friday night “Fish Fry,” said Seger. “Don’t let the words fool you, the fish is freshly prepared several different ways. I.e. grilled, Cajun, jerk. The setting is right on the beach next to Embers restaurant with a DJ or band playing local music and creating a street party right on the beach. So much fun!!!”

Seger said Windjammer Landing was lucky enough to not be hit by hurricane Maria, but the storms have presented new challenges for the business. “This hurricane season was one for the record books,” he said. “Many of our neighbouring islands were affected greatly and will take several months or years to fully recover. St Lucia and Windjammer Landing missed all effects of the winds and rain associated with the hurricanes. Getting the word out to the world stating we’re open for business is our big challenge.”

Seger was thrown into the position of managing director a year ago under unfortunate circumstances, after the former managing director passed away. He said the last year was bitter-sweet, but he has tried to honour his predecessor’s direction while still infusing his own personal style into the job.

“I thinks it’s important to not forget the people that make Windjammer, Windjammer.”

Windjammer Landing is having a winter special at the moment, with 40 per cent off all room types. There is also a special on the all-inclusive “Romance Package“, with sparkling wine, flowers, and a couples massage.

Woman of the Week: Linda Hung

Linda Hung is a theme park enthusiast. While speaking on the phone with Women’s Post, she talked excitedly about Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando. The experience, she said, was made unique by the magical landscapes and the transitions from island to island.

And Hung knows what she is talking about. As Senior Director of Theme Parks for FORREC, it is her job to ensure theme parks and resorts are designed in a way that cultivates the best possible guest experience — and the most fun.

FORREC is an international entertainment design agency based in Toronto, responsible for designing some of the world’s most attended and admired theme parks. This includes Canada’s Wonderland, Universal Studios in Florida, and several LEGOLAND properties, among many others.

Hung was always fascinated with design and architecture. “It was the idea of being able to create something with your imagination and then believing you can transform that image into a real place,” she said. “I day dreamed a great deal when I was young. I had an interest in art, design, and drawing, coupled with technical skills in math. I fell into landscape architecture.”

After graduating from the University of Toronto with a bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture, Hung moved to Asia. Employment in Canada was scarce, and in Hong Kong she was able to get a job as a Junior Architect and Intermediate Landscape Architect, while learning more about her family history.

While she loved her work, she loved theme parks and resorts more. Ever since she was young, she visited these attractions as much as possible. When a position opened up at FORREC for a master planner, Hung jumped at the opportunity. That was 19 years ago.

“I often think of how lucky I am and stay engaged and inspired in one place all these years. I’m constantly learning from my peers and clients. Projects are so diverse, I’m never bored.”

Now, she serves as Senior Director of Theme Parks, a role that incorporates her knowledge in design and architecture with business and finance. “I’m not just trying to sell them a theme park. I understand what they need to make their project and development viable, efficient, and compelling to guests. Plus, I love the whole industry, bringing entertainment to projects. We have a unique skill set with FORREC to marry it with our projects to make it stand out.”

With so many options around the world, the theme park industry is highly competitive. Each project needs to be looked at through different lenses and must cater to the client, location, brand, culture, and story. With so many entertainment offerings out there, Hung needs to constantly think about what is going to make their parks unique. How will they capture the free time of their guests?

According to Hung, the key to a successful resort is integration, ensuring guests are entertained and occupied from when they get up in the morning to when they return to their rooms at night. At a theme park, great rides and attractions are absolutely necessary, but Hung says it is about more than that. “The park in itself is also a destination. We look for things that create a whole story or environment so that once you walk in you are entering a different world. You are escaping your world and walking into a fantasy.”

FORREC also helps design smaller, local projects such as a playground at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto. The playground included elements of waterplay, handwork, and food, set around a chimney, which acts as a central gathering space. Hung says that working internationally is a thrill, but it is even more rewarding to work in your own backyard.

Hung also helped create Splashworks at Ontario Place, an experience she enjoyed greatly.

“I remember working on that project and bringing the master plan home and my kids were inspired by it and said we have our ideas, and this is what we would love to see in a splash park. And I implemented some of their thoughts. Years later they recognized some of those things in the waterpark. Those are the little moments that make it really special. Creating things in your mind and having it built into a physical place. You can experience it in design.”

Hung has an entrepreneurial spirit, and encourages creativity and adventure within business. “I would encourage a curious mind. If you have a new concept, whether it;s landscape architecture or entrepreneur. You shouldn’t stop there. Always think what could make it better. For women, being sensitive is a good thing. It’s what makes us keen observers, that’s what enables us to explore.”

When Hung isn’t working, she spends a lot of time volunteering. She does work with World Vision, Toronto City Mission, The Scott Mission, and Sketch Toronto.

Enjoy these profiles? Sign up for our weekly e-newsletters to have them delivered right to your inbox!

3 ways to experience underwater tourism

Is water your life? Do your vacations often consist of snorkling or surfing? Are you the kind of person that spends 90 per cent of their time on the beach? If so, then maybe you are ready for a more unique kind of vacation — something a little more remote, quiet, and truly close to the water?

Let me present underwater tourism, one of the newest (albeit most expensive) types of vacation. These hotels, restaurants, clubs, and museums are all set under the water, meaning that participants get a spectacular view of sea life while enjoying all the luxury of a resort.

Interested in learning more? Here are three types of things you can do underwater during your next holiday:

Sleep underwater

People are spending thousands of dollars to sleep hanging from cliffs or in glass igloos in the middle of a remote forest in winter. Staying in a normal hotel is considered tame. If you are going to travel, why not do something truly unique? There are numerous companies that actually offer luxury suites on submarines. For example, Oliver’s Travel launched “Lovers Deep”, a submarine that plays host to couples looking for a remote and isolated, romantic, adventure.

Cost for a night in Lovers Deep is £175,000 (Euro). 

There are also resorts that specialize in underwater hospitality. The Manta Resort in Pemba, a remote island off the coast of Africa, offers an Underwater Room accessible only by boat. The room, or more accurately the floating island, has three levels and is situated 250m from shore. Underwater spotlights draw fish and squid towards the room, so that you can witness the magical and mysterious life under the sea. Meals will be brought to you by boat at pre-arranged times, and a kayak, fins, and a snorkel will be provided.

Cost for a night is $1 500 (US).

Most of these accomodations offer eco-friendly resources so as not to harm the wildlife. This includes advanced marine toilet systems, hand-wash basins, and biodegradable shower products. It’s less about the luxury of a resort and more about the serenity of isolation. There will be concierges or staff on hand to answer questions, arrange meals, and re-stock the minibar; however, there is little access to technology or outside civilizations. Perfect to get away from the craziness of downtown living.

Eat underwater

For those who may be nervous about spending an entire night underwater, an evening with fine dining may be the perfect compromise. Ithaa, located in the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in the Maldives, is the most popular of underwater restaurants. It was also the first to open in 2005. The food is prepared and cooked above water, and then brought down by servers. The restaurant serves European fare, offering six-course meals for dinner, four-course lunches, and cocktail or brunch options. Guests are surrounded by clear acrylic walls that allow them to see fish and sharks swim past.

Europe is joining the trend with a restaurant set to open in Norway in 2019. The restaurant will have three levels and a capacity of 100 people. A champagne bar will mark the transition between shoreline and ocean. The building will also double as a marine biology research centre.

Party underwater

Yes, you don’t have to commit to a meal or an overnight stay if you want to try the underwater experience. Instead, sip cocktails and be entertained at an underwater club with live music and dancing. There aren’t as many of these (as I imagine the movement of dancing requires quite the archeological reinforcement.

For those who want something a little more mellow, why not visit an underwater museums that allows you to either scuba dive or be transported using an underwater vessel to see ruins. There are also underwater spas and game rooms that allow tourists to play Jenga or have a bubble fight while wearing oxygen helmets!

As a general tip: make sure that you go to an underwater experience in the sea or ocean and not a river or lake. There are some restaurants and clubs taking adventave of this trend and setting up facilities in dirty water with little wildlife.

The best part is that the possibilities for underwater tourism is endless — as long as it is safe for both the participants and the fish in the sea!

Would you ever consider one of these vacation spots? Let us know in the comments below!

All inclusive vs. a la carte vacations: A lesson learned

by Nicole Duquette

Corona’s advertisers got it just right. My own personal Corona commercial was what I had in mind when taking off for my last vacation. Two big chairs, warm sun, cool ocean, and a white sand beach that’s deserted except for one waitress who is conveniently there whenever the beer is running low. But, that wasn’t exactly what I got. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about a sunny week on the beach, but the all-inclusive experience simply did not fulfill my ultimate vacation fantasy.

The biggest discrepancy between my mental image of the vacation, and the real thing was that the beach and pools were anything but deserted. We were met by an astounding 3,000 fellow hotel guests. My first thought upon being confronted with the mob of sun worshippers was, “We should have gone to Europe.” At least in Europe, if there’s a mob it’s a mob observing great historical monuments, and discovering rich cultures. But, European vacations (or any non-all-inclusive vacation for that matter) are not all that relaxing.

Á la carte vacations, ones where you control the entire itinerary and pay for everything are great adventures, but they can also be hectic. Racing to catch buses, trains, boats, and planes adds stress to what was supposed to be a stress-free vacation. Not to mention, navigating language barriers, waiting in line-ups that are bigger than the attractions themselves, and finding out your hotel is really a hostel can quickly cause blood pressures to rise. When nothing goes wrong á la carte vacations are dreams of wine, cheese, and riverside strolls come true, but when does nothing go wrong?

As great as á la carte vacations can be, this time around relaxation was my main goal, so an all-inclusive southern vacation was the obvious choice. Even though there were more party people than leisure seekers, we did find what we were looking for. After a walk around the entire resort, we discovered a second pool where the music was soothing rather than blaring, and the ratio of children to adults was significantly decreased. We parked ourselves there for most of the week, and let the tensions of home melt away.

By the end of the trip, I no longer regretted not planning an á la carte European vacation – we can always do that next time (I still think they are fun – busy, and fun). But, this time I still would have preferred a smaller, adults-only resort, so lesson learned: research the size and atmosphere of the resort, not just how many swim-up bars there are. Or, maybe next time I’ll just call Corona’s advertisers and ask where their private beach is.