Mark Adams wants to know what’s wrong with his brand new resort. The CEO of Serenity at Coconut Bay and I are the last ones standing at the Saint Lucia property’s poolside bar at about 2:30 a.m. – aside from a bartender who has stayed to serve us – and the affable but intense Texan is determined to get an answer.

“Nothing’s wrong with it, it’s amazing,” I assure him, but Adams won’t let it go. I wrack my brain trying to find something… anything.

Maybe there’s a bit too many tiny ginger fibres in my Dark & Stormy (dark rum and ginger beer), I offer tentatively… Horror! That’s because they actually make the ginger beer and don’t use the bottled stuff I’m accustomed to, I learn. My next drink is filtered through a strainer.
 
I love Bob Marley as much as the next guy, but, um, perhaps a little more variety in the poolside reggae mix? Next day, there’s nary a Three Little Birds or Redemption Song to be heard on the state-of-the-art music system that provides the soundtrack to a guest’s stay.

And that’s how Adams rolls. Mention a problem, no matter how small, and it gets fixed. Immediately. Anticipate a problem, or a need, and it goes on the drawing board for a solution before it becomes one for real.
 
Naturally, the white-collar resort exec (he really did have a white collar – plus jeans, befitting the casual Caribbean elegance style of the resort), doesn’t handle every such detail himself, but then that’s what the resort’s staff is for, from a management team that’s ready to roll up the sleeves when required, to everyday butlers who cater to every guest’s needs, or whims, doing so with “the highest level of service and discretion.”

This latter amenity, I must admit, is still hard for my low-maintenance Canadian sensibility to get past. No thanks, despite the discretion I can unpack my own suitcase (and unfashionable underwear). I can draw my own bath (easy on the bubbles); I return one afternoon to find the tub filled anyway.

But my butler and I do laugh when I ask if he can order me up a pork chop any time of the day or night (a la Homer Simpson); he knows the reference and spoils the joke by earnestly advising that I could have a steak instead if I prefer.

Tony proceeds to explain what every light switch in my private “sanctuary” does and I’m inclined to think this attention to detail is a bit much, but then I remember an experience at a posh hotel in Abu Dhabi where I shooed away the butler, only to sheepishly call him back minutes later when I couldn’t manage to figure out how to turn on a single light in the room.

I am now well equipped to illuminate all areas of my immense suite, and, importantly, the outside courtyard, replete with a private waterfall-enhanced plunge tub, hammock, and palm tree. Indeed, each of the resort’s 36 suites were built around, or had added, at least one of the local trees, which provides suitable shade cover. There’s also a bar area with a stocked fridge (including one’s favourite drinks once indicated), and a blender, though I suspect that would be a tool for Tony.

As an aside, this courtyard is so homey that it caused at least one neighbour to forget their actual room key as the door closed behind her, prompting musings about hiding a spare in the garden for such future occasions. (I’m reminded of the classic movie scenes where some hapless character manages to lock themselves out of their hotel in a towel, or even less…)

Another solution would be to use the portable butler bat-phone issued to each guest to summon help. Indeed, the phone magically fulfills any need, from restaurant or spa service reservations to rides to or from the beach, in-room meals or snacks, or anything else a guest might desire or need, like pork chops.

As Mark Adams learned, oddly much to his dismay it seemed, I found that I didn’t need much during my stay, and Tony and I were destined to see less of each other than I suspect he would have wished.
 
But then, solitude is the guiding principle at Serenity, which might be described as an adults-only hotel within a hotel at Saint Lucia’s popular Coconut Bay Resort (which some might remember as the former Club Med prior to 2001).

Serenity is located adjacent to Coconut Bay, but one would hardly know the 250-room resort is there unless choosing to take advantage of its many amenities (eight restaurants, seven bars, five pools, fitness centre, tennis and basketball courts, full-service salon and oceanfront spa, and the island’s largest water park) – all of which are available to Serenity guests (though patrons at Coco Bay cannot travel the other way – except to the restaurant for an additional charge).

But the Coconut Bay services are just gravy and everything one really needs, from Great House dining to pool and poolside bars are already at Serenity or, like spa services, can be brought there.

The resort, it also should be noted, is a mere five-minute drive from St. Lucia’s Hewanorra International Airport, at the south end of the island in Vieux Fort. What this really means is that while others are continuing their journeys from the airport for another couple of hours to the north of the island, where most other resorts are found, Serenity guests are already sipping cocktails, plunging in their plunge pools, and getting a head start on learning how to turn on the lights!


TRADE TICKER

 
• Universal Orlando Resort has launched a new dedicated support service to give travel agents “unparalleled, personalized support” when booking clients to the attraction, which includes Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and the recently opened Volcano Bay waterpark, along with several onsite hotels. The resource includes dedicated call centre team (1-800-224-3838), live online chat feature (at VAXVacationAccess.com) and texting service for last-minute enquiries (number provided when client is booked. For more info, visit www.UniversalTravelAgents.com.
 
• Contiki wants agents to complete its e-learning course, and to nudge them along, successful participants will be eligible to take part in a seven-day fam to India, Nov. 5-15, showcasing the tour company’s product from Delhi to Jaipur. A short, written note explaining how the fam will help increase sales is also required. All ages are welcome; for details contact your local sales manager or sales@contiki.ca. International airfare is not included.
 
• Star Clippers is giving away two trips in August so that “agents can experience exactly what their clients are experiencing…” Winners booking guests on any 2017-19 Asia sailing with Star Clippers during August automatically receive an entry to win one of the two sailings to Phuket/Thailand, Singapore or Bali/Indonesia in 2018 (air not included).


THIS and THAT


• Congratulations to Gary Sadler, Sr. V.P. of Sales for Unique Vacations (Sandals Resorts) who has been awarded Jamaica’s Honour of the Order of Distinction for his service to the travel industry. Sadler, who recently celebrated 25 years with Sandals, spent much of that time representing the company in Canada and is still a frequent visitor.

• Global Affairs Canada, which assists thousands of Canadians in trouble abroad, often for reasons beyond their control, is recommending that travellers read its new revised version of Bon Voyage, a publication that offers a wealth of safe-travel information and a summary of consular services available to Canadians abroad. Bilingual versions can be downloaded at travel.gc.ca/publication.

• The Norwegian Sun cruise ship will undergo a two-and-a-half-week dry dock in Victoria, B.C. next year as part of the Norwegian Edge brands revitalization program. It will re-enter service on April 19, 2018, for 17-day repositioning cruise from Seattle to the east coast via the Panama Canal.  
 


WORDS OF THE WEEK

 
“Canada is No. 1 and has been for many, many years. If Air Canada is around, we need a bigger plane!”

- Senior Vice President of Tourism at New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Kim Prietz on the city’s largest international tourism market at the recent IPW trade show in Washington D.C.
 
 

 
 
 
 
serenity at coconut  bay, st lucia

Serenity at Coconut Bay, Saint Lucia.

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