The pool at Spice Island in GrenadaTen Caribbean properties joined Island Destinations' 2011 Travelers Collection portfolio of 126 luxury hotels, resorts and villas.

Also new for next year is Tradewinds Aviation, the first aviation company to join the luxury travel firm. Tradewinds offers premium-class, scheduled air service four times daily between San Juan and St. Barts.

"We've got some great additions to the collection," said Maurice Bonham-Carter, president and CEO.

New to Island Destinations for 2011 are the Pink Sands, Harbor Island, the Bahamas; Zoetry Agua Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Christopher St. Barts, St. Barts; Spice Island in Grenada; and the Veranda Resort & Residences, Turks and Caicos.

The Four Seasons Nevis, meanwhile, reopens next month.

Puerto Rico scored with two properties: the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Rio Grande and the W Retreat & Spa in Vieques.

Additions in St. Lucia included Jalousie Plantation and the Landings, a RockResort.

Besides the Caribbean resorts, destinations represented in the portfolio include Bali, Dubai, Oman, Maldives, the Seychelles, Hawaii, Florida, Fiji, French Polynesia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Bermuda.

According to Bonham-Carter, a property will be considered for the company's portfolio only after a site inspection.

"We only add a property if we know we can stand behind it and sell it well," he said. "We know exactly what our market likes and needs in both small and large properties."

That market is the discerning luxury traveler, and comments and reports from those clients count heavily with Island Destinations' assessment of properties, Bonham-Carter said.

Island Destinations works only with travel professionals, and its database includes 7,500 agents.

"We are committed to that distribution channel, and we continue to offer great advantages to our luxury travel partners," he said.

One such benefit is the SPF 24/7, a pre- and postdeparture comprehensive travel protection plan, priced from $59 per person.

The Landings in St. Lucia"More than 50% of our clients buy it," Bonham-Carter said. "The plan now includes cancellation coverage during the holiday periods, and Island Destinations pays full commission even if the client cancels."

Business in 2010 is shaping up well, according to Bonham-Carter. "Last winter was OK, but we've seen it building all year to a better year, and the sales for 2011 are dramatically up."

Bookings to the Caribbean are more than 20% higher year to date than in 2009 at the same time; Mexico business this year has increased more than 50%.

In the Caribbean, the real winner this year appears to be the Turks and Caicos.

"The destination has a number of luxury properties, and it has easy air access from a number of major gateways," Bonham-Carter said.

In terms of trends in the luxury market, Bonham-Carter pointed to an increase in air-and-land bookings vs. land-only bookings as recently as a year ago.

"In part because of the recession, our clients want value in their travel purchases, and they receive it when they work with travel professionals who know the product," he said.

Clients also are booking further out than they did in 2008 and 2009, Bonham-Carter said.

Island Destinations offers several incentives for agents, who can earn one free night for themselves for every four nights booked and two nights on a seven-night booking.

"These free nights are for the agents so that they can travel to various resorts, see the product firsthand and be informed about what they are selling," Bonham-Carter said.

The company's expansion efforts are not limited to the Caribbean, Bonham-Carter noted. For 2011, "we did add a total of 15 new island properties from Dubai to the Maldives to Fiji," he said, adding that his firm has an eye on Asia as the next expansion area.



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