Carissa Gulyas, founder of Your Wish Travel Co, a partner of Largay Travel, specializes in yacht charters and group travel. Here, she shares what to expect for festive season this year.
As travel begins to slowly pick up again for many of us advisors, I’m finding that more than ever people are still wanting and starting to plan their holidays away. For the last couple of months, it seems that many of my colleagues and clients are taking more domestic trips this summer, staying closer to home with road trips down the Southeast, island getaways to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, RV trips out West to our national parks, as well as to luxury ranches throughout the Midwest.
While so many are still not comfortable flying, (which is OK; it’s different for everyone), many of those say they will be ready this fall and winter. Travelers planning ahead gives them more time to see how things continue to go with the virus, while still allowing them to set up the dates they want and take advantage of promotions and flexible cancellation policies—and this goes well into travel for 2021. In particular, I’m seeing two different types of vacations that seem very popular for festive this year: The Caribbean and yacht charters.
The Caribbean has always been a popular destination for fall and winter, but with so much of the rest of the world closed to Americans, the Caribbean seems the place to be at the moment. For those on the East Coast, it’s a hop skip and a jump away with easy flight access; others may have one stop in between, but it's still easy enough to get to. The Caribbean has very low numbers of coronavirus, which is reassuring to many and with so many accommodation options with standalone villas or suites on resort settings, travelers can choose their comfort on when they want to be around people and when they do not. Currently, with the challenges of renewing or getting passports our clients can still head down south passport-free to the United States Virgin Islands. Be sure to remind them that without a passport they cannot island hop to through the British Virgin Islands, but there is plenty to do in St. John’s, St. Croix and St. Thomas. For those with a passport they will have more options, of course. That said, the Caribbean is definitely a hot spot for festive this year with so many options for families, multi-generational families, couples, solos and groups.
Some of my favorites resorts in the Caribbean, depending on the clientele and their needs/interests, would be: Hammock Cove Antigua for its boutique-style villas that are all-inclusive and close to Devil’s Bridge; Grace Bay Club in Turks and Caicos is always a very popular resort and one that my clients love going back to each year; Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla, a boutique, barefoot luxury resort where every room is beachfront and will not disappoint; ANI Private Villa Resorts is another favorite of mine offering unique, private villa-style accommodations in Anguilla, the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka and Thailand. ANI is a great all-inclusive experience for clients to go in on with their friends, family, small weddings or small corporate groups that one would buy out just for their group. The great thing is that at some of them you can reserve four, six or eight rooms, if you wanted, instead of the whole property at once. Of course, there are several more hotels and resorts that I love, but these are just a few. If you’re a member of a consortium or your agency is preferred with the brand, we can always get our clients those beautiful, value-saving extra amenities that we all love so much.
Yacht charters, a personal favorite of mine, are also seeing increased interest in this festive season. The nice thing about yacht charters is they can really be customized for the family or group: You can see and experience so much in a small amount of time that the value is huge and pricing is much better than most would think. There are different ways of chartering, depending on the budget, yacht and interests of the travelers. You can go bareboat, which would include maybe some breakfast options in the morning and then you’re on your own for lunch and dinner or you can go all in and have all of your meals prepared by your personal chef on board—so. it’s a great option for clients to experience beautiful Caribbean cays of their choice, endless water sports, fantastic food and fun restaurants and bars while island-hopping and practicing social distancing at its best.
If your clients never want to go to land where there’s several people... no problem, you can plan for them to island-hop the empty cays for what will feel like their own private beach experience. Two companies with great reputations and are very well-known internationally and in the Caribbean are The Moorings, a part of Virtuoso, and Ocean Getaways, which only offers all-inclusive charter options. Both offer world-class cuisine from executive chefs, so nobody will be disappointed. For the first time ever for festive bookings, The Moorings is offering 10 percent off for our clients, which can be a huge savings.
As we continue on this weird journey of living with the coronavirus, I am definitely recommending that clients try and book their future travel now to get what they want. If they continue to feel uncomfortable as we get closer to the date of departure, they can always cancel or reschedule—but at least they have the dates they want now. For both Thanksgiving and the Christmas/New Year’s holidays, resorts and charters are definitely booking up quickly. Many people are ready to get back out there and not be cooped up anymore and explore, and it’s our job to make them feel comfortable doing that.