Spotlight on the Caribbean

By Robert McGarvey

“The Caribbean is always in,” says Ivo Razza, director of marketing for Miami-based Allegro Resorts, which operates 25 properties, mainly in the Caribbean. “Specific islands come in and go out of fashion, but there is always a sexiness to the Caribbean. People want to go there.”

What’s out? Razza is tight-lipped but, when badgered, he says: “Jamaica is not as popular as it used to be. There is so much competition. You see the same thing happening to Acapulco, on Mexico’s Pacific coast. It was very popular, very ‘in,’ but now it definitely is out of fashion. These things happen and tastes change.”

What’s in? Razza doesn’t hesitate to answer that question: “Aruba is immensely popular right now. It’s a spectacular island. People feel very safe, very comfortable there. English is widely spoken, it’s outside the hurricane belt, and it’s a very well-organized island – things happen pretty much as planned.”

Another hot Allegro destination: Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, near Cancun. “It’s very popular with incentive groups,” says Razza.

What do incentive travelers want in the Caribbean? No surprises there: sun, surf, scuba, golf, and, increasingly, spa: “Spa is a huge trend,” says Razza. “The demand is immense, especially when we offer both spa and golf packages.”

But not all that Allegro offers is predictable. One offbeat package that continues to sell: a cigar smokers tour of the Dominican Republic. “We take our guests to several cigar factories and tobacco plantations. It’s for real aficionados but they love it.”

One enduring plus of the Caribbean is that once guests are settled down at a resort, “many don’t even know what country they are in,” says Razza – and, plainly, they don’t want to know. “The Caribbean is an easy sale for many groups. If you want sun and surf, this place is hard to beat.”