CASTRIES, St. Lucia -- Lawrence Samuel took over as general manager of Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort on St. Lucia in September, and he's been on the move ever since.

Windjammer Landing Villa Beach ResortHis assignment at Windjammer is to restructure the administrative end of the 10-year-old resort, evaluate the marketing structure and strategy and bring the property into the new millennium.

Within several weeks of his arrival, Samuel made several senior management changes, promoted some junior staff members, added a human resources department, encouraged staff to take correspondence courses through the American Hotel & Motel Association, instituted weekly staff meetings, posted a suggestion box and brought the total employee count up to 300.

He described Windjammer as a "labor-intensive operation" spread over 55 acres with 210 rooms in hillside villas, four restaurants, three lounges, a private beach, a watersports center, two adult and two children's pools, kids' and teens' clubs, entertainment facilities, tennis and a body treatment center.

Despite the already large size, Samuel said that the resort would have to expand. He would like to see another 100 rooms in the future, possibly designed as time-share units.

For now, Samuel is committed "to getting the product right. The owners approved an expenditure of $1 million for renovations, and we have already completed three lounges, are reinstating the lobby bar and are putting in a terrace for afternoon tea and after-dinner drinks." These projects are slated to be completed this month.

The renovations include an overhaul of 15 of the villas and an upgrade of the superior rooms with new soft goods and interior decor in time for the Christmas season.

Each of Windjammer's villas includes a kitchen, bedrooms and a central seating area with a television and a VCR; CD players are being added this winter. The majority of the villas have plunge pools, as well.

Samuel has reorganized the reservations center at Windjammer and added training for res agents.

The majority of Windjammer's bookings originate through agents who work with the major U.S. tour operators.

Marketing strategies will shift a bit, according to Samuel.

"For the family business, we are changing the Kids Club to Jacquot's Fun Club," he said. (Jacquot is a species of parrot found on St. Lucia.)

"The conference center has been converted to a play area for kids, and the theme of the club is Save the World, which reflects the entire resort's emphasis on conservation," Samuel said.

The club activities are complimentary, and the facilities are open daily to 10 p.m. for children 12 years of age and under.

Several of Windjammer's family packages include 35 hours of private baby-sitting. The teen group activities include biking, hiking, disco and basketball.

Another strong niche market for Windjammer is the honeymoon crowd.

"We assure their complete privacy," Samuel said. "Family villas are not nearby, and kids are not allowed in the dining room at certain evening mealtimes."

Samuel has restructured and consolidated several package plans.

"We offered too many packages, and I felt that Windjammer was trying to be too many things to too many people," he said.

"Quality was suffering because of that."

This winter, honeymoon, family and new Platinum inclusive plans are offered. Samuel is already planning the millennium specials.

"Elegance and quality will mark our millennium celebrations," he said. "It will not be just a jamboree event."

Bookings for the holiday season are strong: Windjammer has a 10-night minimum booking requirement for the Christmas period.

"Bookings drop off in January, so we are trying to pump up that period," Samuel said. "Airlift, although better, is still unbalanced."

Air Jamaica, American Airlines and BWIA serve St. Lucia from the U.S. mainland.

Windjammer's emphasis on conservation will be reflected throughout the resort.

For example, a Jacquot insignia card in each room or villa informs guests that daily towel laundering is optional.

Samuel is a native St. Lucian who is "glad to be home to take on a new challenge," he said.

Prior to joining Windjammer, Samuel was general manager of Rex Grenadian Hotel on Grenada, a post he'd held since opening the hotel in 1993.

Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, Phone: (800) 743-9609, E-mail: [email protected]

Rates and packages

CASTRIES, St. Lucia -- Nightly rack rates at Windjammer Landing range from $240 per room, double, to $890 for a four-bedroom villa with plunge pool. The rates are valid from Jan. 3 to April 10.

Platinum inclusive rack rates cover all meals, unlimited beverages, water sports, service charges and transfers. These range from $270 to $340 per person, per night, double.

Package plans are also valid from Jan. 3 to April 10:

  • Lover's Paradise is priced from $2,800 per couple for seven nights with MAP, transfers and a car for a day.
  • Bring the Family starts at $3,450 for a one-bedroom villa for two adults and a child for seven nights with MAP and transfers.
  • Where the Magic Begins is priced from $920 per person, double, for seven nights with breakfast.
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