Refurbished Radisson Cable Beach is Targeting Group Market

BY MATTHEW ALLAN

Reed Travel Features

NASSAU -- The mood was festive, but Hubert A. Ingraham, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, kept an eye on business in his address to guests attending the Radisson Cable Beach Resort's relaunch party.

"We [the government] have invested a tremendous amount of money in this facility," he said at the black-tie event, "so we have more than a casual interest in your success."

The ceremony was the culmination of a $15 million, 12-month renovation aimed at relaunching the Radisson Cable Beach as an inclusive resort and marketing it to a wider clientele.

An expenditure of that size covers much more than new linen and carpeting (although soft furnishings have been upgraded), and management took pains to make certain that changes ran more than skin deep.

The remodeled pool area, for example, with three free-form pools floating through flowered rockscapes and palms, appeals not only to leisure guests but also provides ample meeting space for groups wishing to conduct business outside.

George Myers, chairman and chief executive officer of the Myers Group, which operates the resort, places group occupancy at 20%, a level that he would like to increase.

The property has 50,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space at the disposal of group business, including the 12,500-square-foot Independence Ballroom, inconspicuously located off the main lobby area and capable of seating 1,500.

According to Leslie Bethel, group and incentive sales manager for Resort Marketing, which represents the Radisson Cable Beach, the meetings and incentives crowd can expect "different venues for different parties," with a focus on flexibility.

Bethel anticipates that the property's inclusive plan should be especially appealing to groups.

Inclusive private functions and services come with a group coordinator assigned throughout the program, private registration for attendees, a hospitality desk, a one-hour cocktail party and meeting room setup.

Meals and afternoon coffee breaks also are included.

In addition, groups staying at least four nights have the option of a dinner credit if they choose to go off-site for an event.

Bethel emphasized that "any location, not just the ballroom, is available for functions, whether it's a cocktail party, sit-down dinner or awards presentation."

In Bethel's mind, the destination dictates that functions must be available out-of-doors, and indeed, in one weekend, I noted groups breakfasting on the hotel terrace, circuiting the poolside for a dinner buffet and enjoying drinks underneath gazebos.

With flexibility like this, Bethel estimated that four midsize groups, of as many as 150 participants each, can coexist without interference.

Business and leisure guests will appreciate the resort's expansion of dining options.

Five restaurants, with a sixth to come, offer diners native fare, as well as Tex-Mex, Italian, Californian and "Floribbean" cuisine.

One quibble, however, is that only one restaurant in the 700-room property is open for breakfast; while there is ample variety at the breakfast buffet, late-risers may need to wait to enter.

Seventy percent of the property is on the inclusive program, and bars, both at the pool and in the lounge, help patrons get their money's worth.

Song accompanies the wine; lounge bands and poolside DJs provide Caribbean-flavored beats at all times of the day.

The retrained staff exhibited an eagerness to please, a welcome trait, notwithstanding my surprise encounter with an overzealous housekeeper who visited while I changed for the pool.

The move to inclusive status comes after more than a year of test marketing.

The changes are in tune with property upgrades throughout Cable Beach, spurred on by greater chain involvement and renewed consumer interest.

Myers classified the competition as good for all involved properties and expressed confidence that the Radisson Resort has positioned itself to be in the thick of the Cable Beach renaissance.

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