Having just spent our annual holiday at the Sheraton Pine Cliffs Hotel in Portugal's Algarve, I thought I'd share a few thoughts with you. This is undoubtedly the most child and family-friendly resort I have been lucky enough to stay at. My wife selected it exactly for that reason, plus the gym facilities and self-catering option ensured all the boxes were ticked. The green tain that served the resort was a winner with the kids, the pools and facilities were excellent, and the "residences" were lovely. To eat lunch and dinner with the kids on the balcony was truly wonderful. The golf course and driving range on site were both very nice and the children's kingdom was outstanding, with qualified and genuinely lovely staff. I could not manage to connect to the free wi-fi in the hotel reception, as advertised - many people were mentioning the same problem. The only really serious disappointment was the fact that this place was devoid of any recycling facilities, not even so much as a bottle bank. To self-cater, and then have to throw away bottles, tins, plastics and even paper defied belief and made for a guilty conscience. A Sheraton offering none of this in the year 2010, how can this be? Truly appalling in our opinion. Easyjet flight was good though I managed to select the broken seat and was obliged to move away from my family. The return flight with Monarch was excellent and we even returned home early.
A somewhat debilitating day with BT's network exchange being flooded and my internet and email access being paralysed. Thankfully, I have an Apple iPhone which allowed me to access my emails but it is interesting that I am in Hertforshaire and the flood was at Paddington - yet my office access is affected and Paddington's is not. My wife had taken the week off to work from home, so you can imagine how impressed she was. Trouble is, there was nothing on the news until the following day, though one news broadcast on the radio did suggest a website to visit to get the latest on the situation.....brilliant as my good friend Hans Loontien, General Manager of the Renaissance in Beijing, would say.
As everyone fights harder for business, hotels and destinations need to seek new ways of attracting tourists and the MICE market. At present, discounting still seems to be far too prominent, but there are also added value offers around that offer something really tangible. However, it seems everyone is fighting for a market that is not convinced it should travel, with a lack of certainty still prevailing. It is down to hotels, resorts, destinations and countries to innovate and use the services of local companies (or perhaps I should say people) who really know how to get to he people who are selling holidays, and who can create a co-ordinated, integrated marketing campaign. Awareness and accessibility are fundamental, though it sure helps to have some unique selling points too. I am gearing myself up for next week's ITB show in Berlin where I shall be meeting with organisations for whom Darren Panto Associates can make a real difference. We have the ideas, contacts, knowledge and determination to make it happen - as we say: "Your success is our success."