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 U.S.-based 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 several years later.


All resort collateral materials and websites that Flying Compass designed and developed promoted the resort and 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 at Anse Marcel offered ample activities – hiking, sailing, beachcombing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking – and had an adequate number of restaurants and bars on the property and nearby to support a week’s vacation. 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) and 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, residents were also the resort’s target demographic, many of whom were French.

In marketing the resort to visitors, it was crucial to highlight the experience. Guest being immersed in the French culture and language while speaking English to staff. Communication was critical, addressing access to lifts (flights), airports, ground and water transportation, currency conversion, local customs and foods, personal safety and leisure 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. Reservatuibs 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 selling the property and the destination. Once brought to the table, Flying Compass begins identifying 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 baseline foundation to begin developing a marketing plan for the resort and the destination.

Flying Compass has a thorough working knowledge of tourism marketing and expertise in selling island resorts (in multiple languages). We know 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. Research from different resources allows us to understand the travel behaviors of consumers better. This is especially true before, during and after significant weather events like hurricanes.

Destinations are second nature to us. We understand how they work and what is needed to drive bookings, visitors and repeat guests.

To learn more about this and other case studies, contact Flying Compass today.

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