Windjammer Landing Resort goes for the gold By Gay Nagle Myers / October 31, 2000 Share 1 -- NEW YORK -- When Lawrence Samuel became general manager of St. Lucia's Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort two years ago, he set some impressive goals for himself, his staff and his property. If achievements at a resort were tallied in the same fashion as Olympic events, Samuel has medaled in gold in several categories."We've accomplished what we set out to do initially, and now we can focus on what still needs to be done," Samuel said, crediting his staff at the 219-room villa resort.Samuel's background and prior experience span both front- and back-of-the-house operations, including cost control, administration, accounting and food and beverage.All of these skills came into play in the past two years.Windjammer's results to date follow:"One of the costliest re-dos in the last 18 months was the $250,000 spent on a new air-conditioning system," Samuel said. "It was worth it. Repeat guests love the new system, and first-time guests expect it."Although overall refurbishing of guest areas is an ongoing project, guest units are now computer-ready and dataport links for rooms are in the works.Samuel recently brought the resort's Web site operation in-house so that the site can be constantly updated. New links bring viewers to St. Lucia's attractions and events.Public areas are the current focus. The pool area has new furniture and cafe umbrellas for outdoor dining.Mango Tree, the resort's signature restaurant and one of four found on the property, has a new chef and a new fusion menu that melds Caribbean cuisine with continental dishes."We've put in rattan armchairs for more comfortable restaurant seating and added a coffee and ice cream cafe," Samuel said.Expanded water frontage includes a 400-foot boardwalk connecting the resort with the watersports area and beach."Hurricane Lenny's wave damage last November made us rethink that whole area of the resort," Samuel said.Windjammer added a ski boat for waterskiing and made the dive center more accessible to resort guests.To publicize and promote the resort to and through agents, Samuel blocked 5,000 room nights per year for the past two years so that agents from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. could visit Windjammer.He set a 3% rate increase this winter over last and reduced prices for the 10-night Christmas period.The five privately owned estate villas on Windjammer's grounds are available for the resort's rental pool at the discretion of the owners. A sixth villa is under construction.Windjammer will open a full-service spa and a separate gym next November."The gym will be built above the spa," Samuel said. "Windjammer will own the spa but we will hire outside trainers for our spa staff."Services will include massages, reflexology, body wraps, scrubs and saunas.Based on guests' requests, Windjammer plans to open an after-dinner cocktail lounge with live music and theme nights and will soon add a game room for the "young and the restless," according to Samuel.Strong growth markets for Windjammer are family and honeymooners; the resort's biggest share of both markets hails from the U.S."We opened our Jacquot Fun Club for kids two years ago and continue to improve upon it," Samuel said. "Families love the villa accommodations for space; honeymooners book them for privacy. Both markets co-exist here very well."A new sports option for guests is St. Lucia's first 18-hole public golf course at Cap Estate, a six-minute drive from Windjammer.The price tag of $85 per round of golf covers transfers, greens fees and the use of a cart."Tee times can be booked in advance, and we will offer a golf package," Samuel said.He hopes to split prebooked sports options with agents so they can collect commissions on vacation extras as well as on accommodations.