“We’re very special! We’re the first FAM out of Canada,” Giselle Williams, the Business Development Manager for Unique Vacations Canada Inc., announced to a small group of hand selected travel advisors on location in Jamaica as the bus departed Montego Bay heading towards Ocho Rios yesterday (Aug. 16). “It’s also the first FAM trip to Jamaica exclusively for Canadian travel advisors.”
Over the course of the next few days, the FAM group will experience three distinct properties in Ocho Rios: Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, Beaches Ocho Rios and Sandals Royal Plantation, marking Sandals Resorts’ first Canadian FAM since Nov. 2019.
“I’m super excited about one element of the FAM in particular as it’s something brand new that we’re doing,” Williams tells PressToday, who is joining the group. “Each participating travel advisor will conduct a virtual broadcast live from Jamaica for their clients, either through their social media channels or Zoom, to highlight the level of safety, luxury and fun… live and direct from our resorts. There’s no better way to have that conversation with clients than right here on location at Sandals and Beaches Resorts.”
The trip also represents a return to travel for the nine participating travel advisors, as it’s their first time travelling internationally since the pandemic.
“It is time for me to get back into the new travel routine and get used to the new normal,” says Shalene Dudley, Lead Travel Concierge at Latitude Concierge Travels, Ltd., who previously hadn’t left the country since experiencing Sandals South Coast in March 2020. “Sandals is a brand I have trusted to send my clients to over the last year so the timing is perfect. Jamaica has also been the destination of choice for my clients for the last few months.”
Dudley says the first-hand experience about pre-screening and the new protocols at the airports and in destination are going to be incredibly valuable while working on future bookings.
“I believe it is my responsibility as a travel advisor and destination wedding specialist to inform my clients about changes, protocols and manage their expectations,” she adds.
Rounding out the group is Heidi Pivnick, Voyages Anne; Caitlin Lajeunesse, Flight Centre Independent; Sue Hawkes, Expedia Cruises; Clementina Iannuzzi, TTAND; Brittany Rayner, TTAND; Nicole Murillo, TravelOnly; Shara Elisee, Sunrise Travel and Diana St Hill, Sunrise Travel.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity to showcase the different personalities of Sandals Ochi, Sandals Royal Plantation and Beaches Ocho Rios – all with our Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness firmly in place – and how they’re ideally suited for clients with various tastes, interests and price points,” says Williams. “Sandals Ochi and Beaches Ocho Rios are two Canadian favourites, so it’s only fitting that we start off right here!”
The Canadian delegation arrived at Sandals Ochi on time to witness Carnival Sunshine, the first cruise ship to call on a Jamaican port since the pandemic.