Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

With travelers' plans on hold, Caribbean hotels and resorts are reaching beyond their property walls and turning to social media to entertain their guests and inform their travel advisors from afar.

The messages focus on their products, their incentives and their employees, and all contain their invitations to return when the time is right.

Virtual getaways include recipes for signature drinks that can be recreated in one's kitchen at home; suggestions for Caribbean-themed games for kids, many of which are adapted from resorts' on-site beach activities; and offerings to escape the stay-at-home mandates through stunning photos and videos of white sand beaches, turquoise seas, soaking tubs on hotel balconies and sunset dinners.  

The #SandalsStateofMind campaign, for example, includes how-to Instagram and YouTube videos on concocting a grilled pineapple martini or a peach melissa (lots of dark Jamaican rum), tips on spicing up romance with a Sandals-style bubble bath and suggestions for a Sandals playlist.

With kids in mind, #BeachesStateofMind features a recipe for tropical banana pancakes, a towel-making tutorial and family-style picnics.

"Sandals is more than a destination. It's a state of mind," Butch Stewart, chairman and founder of Sandals Resorts International, which includes both Sandals and Beaches, said to his Instagram followers. "While you are focused on staying safe at home, we're here to help you find ways to indulge in relaxation and romance at home."

Aman Hotels & Resorts' Amanyara in Turks & Caicos also is going the Instagram route "to encourage people to transport themselves to the island and continue their own personal wellness journey" at home, according to a spokesperson.

David Melladew, the resort's wellness immersion manager, released a series of videos that include breathing techniques, a 15-minute guided yoga flow class and the recipe for a cooler mocktail. The videos have been well received by followers and more are planned, according to the resort.

Under the #BahamasAtHeart and #PositivelyParadise hashtags, Atlantis Paradise Island posted a video entitled A Moment of Zen to Share. In the video a staff member gives viewers a lesson on how to fold beach towels into two swans.

Club Med launched a weekly series of activities "designed to bring the Club Med spirit directly to those staying indoors," according to Carolyne Doyon, CEO and president of Club Med North America.

Club Med at Home features content that includes recipes, virtual resort tours, happy hours and workout classes filmed at one of the resorts and led by a staff fitness instructor.

The company's Mini Club team members post entertainment ideas and family game-night activities.

Exclusive Resorts, a members-only vacation club with a portfolio of global residence properties attached to resorts, including 11 in the Caribbean, launched Exclusive Connections, a series of weekly digital gatherings via Zoom. Topics cover health; travel and wellness; philanthropy; nature and science; business; and  cooking and nutrition.

"Once things go 'back to normal,' people will have an emotional need to travel with people they know and trust, said CEO James Henderson. "We're already planning group bonding activities and adventures; people will be hungry for human connection and fun."

Grand Case Beach Club in St. Martin's general manager, Steve Wright, reached out to clients and advisors, and he posted a photo of the view from one of the resort's many beachfront walkways, suggesting that the photo become the wallpaper for a phone, laptop or other digital device because "it may be awhile before our guests are able to board an international flight to St. Martin. Every time you look at the photo, think of the happy times you have spent with us and the even happier times to come."

Couples Resorts in Jamaica provides live feeds on its social media channels of its two resorts in Ocho Rios and two in Negril: videos and updates on policies and culinary experiences, highlights of local partners and vendors and 360-degree views of the island.  

Graeme Davis, president of Baha Mar in Nassau, shared a video in which he encouraged guests, associates and partners to remain hopeful and positive during this time. "I look forward to when we will be able to create spectacular experiences together and be part of each other's memories once again," he said.

Each of the three resorts at Baha Mar -- Grand Hyatt, SLS and Rosewood -- is working with travel advisors and guests through social media channels to offer an escape from everyday life by showcasing the natural beauty of the surroundings and the Bahamas.

Once this crisis has passed, Davis said he believed there would be a new normal "and that guests will be more conscious of sanitary standards. We're working with our teams to anticipate these needs and provide peace of mind and comfort to our future guests," he said.

Le Barthelemy Hotel & Spa on St. Bart's recorded the sounds of waters lapping the shoreline, while the Jamaica Inn's lineup of virtual experiences includes cooking classes, mixology demos, yoga sessions, garden tours and glimpses of Shadow, the resident dog.

Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Montego Bay features a full calendar of virtual content and programming as a way for guests to stay connected through chef recipe tips, workouts, activities from the Pineapple Kids Club and interactive Q&A's.

BodyHoliday in St. Lucia offers a series of wellness-oriented video content for guests to follow along at home; Wymara Resort & Villas on Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, offers curated playlists on Spotify with instructions for listeners "to put on your headphones, close your eyes and let these songs -- and your imagination -- take you away."

Carolina Voullieme Leon, director of sales and marketing at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, said that "we wanted to create a virtual way for everyone to enjoy our One Happy Island any time, so our hope is that the Aruba Marriott Island Tunes playlist musically transports listeners to our sandy shores."

"Kokomo" by the Beach Boys starts things off, followed by Caribbean-themed tunes, including "Dushi Bida," which is sung in the local language of Papiamento and means "sweet life."

Similar formats were followed by the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, whose Caliente Caribe playlist celebrates Puerto Rico, and by Hedonism II in Negril which offers the Hedo Hustle(r) in both the "prude" and "nude" editions. "One is more symbolic of our mild side with relaxing tunes, and one is sexy and wild," said Kevin Levee, the resort's general manager.


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