Hyatt St. Lucia stresses service

GROS ISLET, St. Lucia -- Ask general manager Dale McDaniel what sets the Hyatt Regency St. Lucia apart from its competitors, and his reply is simple: Service, service, service.

When McDaniel began staffing up for the hotel's opening last April, more than 8,000 people applied for 400 jobs.

After sifting through applications and interviewing applicants, "we hired the cream of the crop," the general manager said.

The new staff underwent two weeks of training by 60 of Hyatt's U.S. trainers/managers.

"We meet American standards for the most discriminating guests," McDaniel said. "This property can compete with top Hyatt properties at other destinations."

The competition is stiff on St. Lucia as well. McDaniel said the upscale Jalousie Hilton Resort & Spa is Hyatt's chief competitor on the island.

Hyatt's target market is leisure travelers, with the U.S. expected to contribute more than 80% of that market.

McDaniel anticipates that agents will account for 40% or more of all U.S. bookings.

To raise the resort's visibility in its first year of operation, promotions with major U.S. wholesalers are planned during 2001.

The low-rise, 284-room property is tucked onto a narrow causeway along Rodney Bay between the mainland and Pigeon Island National Park, a recreated historical site.

For those not fond of long road trips after hours on a plane, the Hyatt also is mercifully close to George Charles Airport near Castries.

The Atlantic is across the road from the resort, and with water, water everywhere, most rooms offer an ocean view.

Guest rooms are well-equipped, with plantation-style furnishings, balconies or patios and either a king-size bed or a double/queen combo.

Each room has a safe, hair dryer, iron and board, telephones with data ports and 115-volt outlets for powering appliances and equipment.

Bathrooms have heated mirrors to evaporate accumulated steam, a magnifying makeup mirror, double vanities with two sinks, a shower/bath and a telephone.

A total of 11 suites, Regency class rooms and a Presidential suite also are available.

Twenty-four swim-up units, literally at lagoon's edge, have captured the imagination of water lovers, despite their less-than-prime location (farthest from the main building).

These novelty rooms have been booked solid since the resort opened, according to McDaniel.

The on-site Coyaba Spa offers a select array of spa treatments, including facials, body wraps, salt glow treatments and massages.

The spa's sparse, elegant lobby gives way to a range of private treatment rooms as well as outdoor gazebos for guests who choose al fresco treatments.

Also at the spa is a gym with free weights, exercise bikes, stair-steppers and universal weight training equipment.

Fronting a stretch of sand, the property's peaceful setting belies the hubbub surrounding its construction.

Its casino, the first such facility on St. Lucia, has drawn fire from local groups who oppose the arrival of casino gaming on the island.

For now, the 10,000-square-foot facility sits vacant, pending passage of the Gaming Control Bill. If the legislation is adopted, McDaniel said Hyatt could open the casino in three to four months.

In the meantime, Hyatt is putting the finishing touches on the rest of its facilities before the start of its first winter season.

A special agent rate of $99 per room, per night is available until February.

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