Anguilla’s hotel development is on a fast track these days, according to Haydn Hughes, secretary of tourism.
“I’m very excited by what’s going on, not only in our hotel product but also with our visitor numbers and the development of niche markets,” Hughes said.
Under construction are the 129-room Zemi Beach Resort in Shoal Bay, slated to open in 2015 and the 34-room Manoah Hotel on the site of the former Ku Hotel in Shoal Bay, opening at the end of 2015.
“We’ve also got the 64-suite Solaire property in the Lockrum area overlooking St. Martin, which will open in 2016,” Hughes said.
The Malliouhana Hotel & Spa, closed since May 2011, is in a reconstruction phase following its purchase in February by Chicago-based AJ Capital Partners.
The high-end property will feature new pools and redesigned restaurants when it reopens 28 of its rooms in December under the management of Auberge Resorts, according to Hughes.
“Cap Juluca, CuisinArt and the Anacoana continue to upgrade and tweak their resort product, as do several of our smaller properties, so we can offer our visitors a wide range of accommodations with our inventory of 2,000 guestrooms and 750 villa rooms,” he said.
Day-tripper numbers from St. Maarten/Martin are up 70% this year, thanks to improved ferry services linking the islands.
International air arrivals also are on the upswing, which Hughes credits in part to exposure on several reality TV shows, including “Housewives of Atlanta,” which shot an episode on Anguilla. “Our villa occupancies shot up after that show aired,” he said.
Hughes hopes to make inroads in sports tourism with the development of a running track on the island.
“It would help open up that market for us, but plans for a track are just a concept at this point,” he said.
Medical tourism also is on Hughes’ radar.
“We have top plastic surgeons and facilities here, but we have to market this strongly,” he said. “There is a lot of competition out there in this field.”