Caribbean Upgrades ahead at Grand Lucayan By Gay Nagle Myers / March 16, 2013 Share 1 -- The Grand Lucayan resort on Grand Bahama Island stepped out on its own last year, ending its affiliation with Radisson, launching an all-inclusive option for its guests and embarking on a series of upgrades and improvements."We introduced the all-inclusive plan on Oct. 1, 2012, and it has been very well received, with 40% of our guests now choosing it," said Mary Pinto, marketing manager. "We saw the trend toward all-inclusives, and we knew we had to offer this to our guests in order to remain competitive in the marketplace," she said. The 542-room property, the largest on the island, continues to offer a European Plan (room only) rate. All guests can select from nine restaurants on the property, although there is a surcharge for all-inclusive guests who dine at Churchill's, the resort's fine dining restaurant.The resort opened a tennis school this winter, offering private and group lessons for all ages.The 23 Lanai one-bedroom beachfront suites will be enhanced in stages during the year. "These are our prime rooms, and we want to give them a new look, new life," Pinto said.Close to 70% of all bookings at Grand Lucayan are agent- and wholesaler-generated, Pinto said."We plan to introduce an agent specialist program by March 1," she said. "We currently pay 10% commission, but our specialist agents will receive a cash incentive in addition to the commission of $75 for bookings of three or more nights."Grand Lucayan, which had a "solid" holiday season, is on track with strong leisure bookings thus far this winter, although they remain close in, around the 14-day mark, "which makes it more difficult to gauge how we will do in the long run," Pinto said.Promotions this year will focus on the year-round all-inclusive rate of $146 per person, per night, "and we hope to offer an air incentive package through the Ministry of Tourism," according to Pinto.The meetings sector is helping to build business at the resort. Grand Lucayan has 90,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space."Airlift is the issue," Pinto said. "We could handle larger groups if we had more lift to get them in and out."Destination weddings is another growth market. "We invested a lot in this sector in 2012, and it is paying off," Pinto said. "We have a wedding planner, virtual tools to help a bride with the wedding details and on-site venues that offer a number of choices for the ceremony and reception." Visit www.grandlucayan.com.Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.