A mud bath in St. Lucia, a Reggae on the Water cruise in Jamaica, a sail around Antigua's 365 beaches or a pit stop at a conch-and-beer shack in the Bahamas are not the norm for most tour excursions in the Caribbean.
Island Routes Luxury Adventure Tours, a Jamaica-based company that set up shop in June, is all about raising the bar on guest experiences with tours and excursions that spotlight the history, people and attractions of each island where the firm operates.
With more than 80 excursions in its Jamaica inventory, Island Routes will roll out its offerings in Antigua and St. Lucia on Nov. 1, followed by the Turks and Caicos in late December and the Bahamas in early 2010.
Island Routes, a division of Sandals Resorts International, "was the natural evolution for our company, which has been headquartered in Montego Bay for more than 25 years," said Sandals CEO Adam Stewart.
Through its Certified Partners Program, Island Routes handpicks local companies to guide excursions "that are the best of the best and capture the essence and allure of each island," said Dominique Peterkin, general manager.
Tour desks at participating resorts in Jamaica -- which, for now, include the 12 Sandals, Beaches, Royal Planation and Grand Pineapple properties -- are manned by Island Routes specialists who guide guests through the tour selection process.
The average price for Island Routes' popular river-tubing programs in Jamaica "runs about $70 per person, but swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove can be $200 per person," Peterkin said.
Adventure, culture and romance are the three categories of tour offerings. Sample excursions include the Mystic Mountain water park in Ocho Rios; the Bellefield Great House in Montego Bay to view a re-enactment of plantation life; bike tours through the Blue Mountains; a reggae cruise; deep-sea fishing trips; river kayaking; and evening catamaran sails to Laughing Waters waterfalls and beach near Ocho Rios.
Island Routes partnered with Unique Vacations Inc. as UVI's first official tour provider. UVI serves as the worldwide sales and marketing representative for Sandals, Beaches, Royal Planation and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts.