Marketing a Secluded Resort & Spa on the Island of St. Martin
Case Study | Caribbean Vacation French St Martin
Destination + Resort Marketing
Carlson Companies purchased a property on the French side of the island of St. Martin and rebranded it the Radisson St. Martin Resort, Marina & Spa. Following a multi-million dollar renovation, the resort opened and needed to quickly hit the ground running to fill guest rooms because of repeated construction delays.
As with many Caribbean island governments, territories and overseas collectivities, French St. Martin is controlled by its home country. This included the destination marketing organization’s (DMO’s) staff and budget to promote and generate awareness of the destination. Many resorts are left to play politics and curry favor with local tourism staff to do what other DMOs do routinely. Such was the case with French St. Martin. Individual properties were required to budget and sell the resort AND the island destination, too.
We were brought on board pre-opening to create marketing tools when none, or dated information, existed. Flying Compass continued working with the resort in that same role (later rebranded as Radisson Blu St. Martin) until the property was sold a number of years later.
All resort collateral materials and websites that Flying Compass designed and developed promoted the resort as well as the destination. While highlighting the opportunity to get away and relax, guests also needed to be convinced that the resort’s remote location on the north end of the island offered ample activities and had an adequate number of restaurants and bars on property and nearby. The language and currency were also concerns and needed to be addressed.
As a bonus, the town of Grand Case, renown for its gourmet dining, was a short taxi ride away. Activities and ample dining options could also be found in Dutch St. Martin (Sint Maarten) as well as on the nearby islands of Anguilla, across the channel from the resort, and on St. Barts, a luxury playground. Scheduled flights to St. Barts depart from the small airport at Grand Case. Ferry service is offered from Marigot, the capital of French St. Martin, at its downtown marina.
During the off-season, local residents, many of whom were French, were also the resort’s target demographic.
In marketing the resort, it was crucial to highlight the experience … being able to be immersed in the French native language, as well as the availability of English-speaking staff, access to lifts (flights), airports, ground and water transportation, currency conversion, while promoting local customs, foods and culture, personal safety and tourism activities.
As the resort’s key markets included French and English speaking countries, all materials were designed in English and then translated to French or vice versa. Our designs took into consideration that the French translations required more space for copy.
Separate dual language websites were created for the restaurants, destination wedding services, the marina, water transfers to/from the airport and the resort, and the full service salon and spa. Bookings for water transfers were booked and paid online. The French-English spa website also included an admin area for tracking appointments and updating services and pricing.
Flying Compass has been marketing award-winning island destinations for more than 35 years.
As illustrated in this case study, island resorts in the Caribbean, Bahamas and U.S. require an agency with experience in selling the property as well as the destination. Once brought to the table, Flying Compass quickly begins identifying and accessing background on various destination assets, soaking up the history, learning the resort’s and island’s secrets, seeking institutional knowledge – to avoid pitfalls made by others – all while creating a comprehensive baseline foundation to begin developing a marketing plan for the resort, as well as the overall destination.
Because Flying Compass has a solid working knowledge of tourism marketing and in selling island resorts in multiple languages, we understand how all the pieces fit together – leisure, meetings, sales, advertising and resort amenities and services – children’s programs, marina services, watersport rentals, spa offerings, special events and food and beverage (F&B). We also understand the various tourism distribution channels, digital tools and the changing landscape. Travel research from different resources allows us to better understand the travel behaviors of consumers. This is especially true before, during and after major weather events like hurricanes.
Destinations are second nature to us. We understand how they work and what is needed to continue to drive bookings, visitors and repeat guests.
To learn more about this and other case studies, contact Flying Compass today.