Gulfstream Tour Boosts Eleuthera Hotels

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With Gulfstream International's tour of Eleuthera complete, local stakeholders are "thrilled" with the ambitious plans which should drive demand to the Family Islands like never before.

Stephen Kappeler, the director of Cape Eleuthera, said he met Jim Swieter from Gulfstream for two days last week and took him on an island-wide tour of all the major hotels. Although the airline's plans involve other islands, including Exuma, Bimini and Abaco, it was important to visit stakeholders in Eleuthera to determine exactly what these resorts have to offer.

"He wanted to visit every property - from North to South - to properly get a sense of every hotel," Stephen told Guardian Business, who is also the vice president of the Bahamas Hotel Association.

"Then he will be able to pick from those which to include in the new Gulfstream flights and marketing plan. He wants to represent a certain level of quality to U.S. consumers."

The campaign, first reported by Guardian Business last month, aims to reach the American market

through a variety of promotions and well-known brands, such as PepsiCo, MillerCoors and Papa John's Pizza.

In fact, a senior director from Papa John's Pizza accompanied Swieter on the tour, Kappeler added.

The push is in tandem with the $85 million investment to re-fleet the airline with Saab planes, doubling its airlift capacity from the U.S. into The Bahamas.

In addition to the advertising and promotional campaign, Gulfstream and Family Island resorts are working feverishly on creative ways to attract tourists and fill the seats.

Although Swieter declined to reveal the full details at this time, it has been suggested by Eleuthera stakeholders that special fares and packages are in the works, and could be revealed within the next few weeks in time for the fall season.

"We went to every major hotel in Eleuthera," Kappeler said. "Shy Beach, Quality Inn, Coco di Mama ... we went all the way from North to South. "All of the operators were thrilled to see him.

"Some of the trees were still down from the hurricane and a few windows had boards on them. But he could see through it and see the potential."

Kirk Aulin, the manager of The Cove in Eleuthera, said he wished his establishment was in better shape, but it was uplifting to have Gulfstream fly in. "I'm pretty happy with the visit," he said.

"We weren't at our best, unfortunately. Having said that, it's nice to see they are putting a positive foot forward and stimulate business down here. It's refreshing."

Sweiter discussed with the owners how they can increase their exposure, participate in the marketing push and help make their booking procedure more efficient and visible online.

Hoteliers will be asked to donate empty rooms to package deals with flights, Kappeler added. Gulfstream is expected to roll out its new deals and the promotional campaign in the coming weeks.

The Nassau Guardian