My interview with an industry travel magazine

I was recently interviewed by Insurance & Financial Meetings Management Magazine about handling large groups in the Bahamas. You can read my section of the article below, or the whole article here in the January 2014 issue.

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The Bahamas

Kevin Dern, operations manager for Lexington Group, is planning a springtime incentive trip to The Bahamas for a large insurance and investment company. He cites “easy airlift” and “great weather” as two of the factors that make this island nation a great incentive destination. He adds, “The currency is tied to U.S. currency, so one U.S. dollar always equals one Bahamian dollar, which makes it easy and affordable for travelers.”

The property chosen for the program is Atlantis, Paradise Island, a sprawling, ocean-themed resort with 2,917 guest rooms including the 600-room Cove Atlantis resort within the resort; a 497-key condo-hotel; and the largest open-air marine habitat in the world. It also is home to Aquaventure, which is described as a “non-stop water experience” featuring multiple waterslides and a mile-long river ride. Atlantis also is a culinary destination offering restaurants by world-renowned chefs such as Nobu Matsuhisa, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Bobby Flay and Todd English. Atlantis provides more than 500,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting space.

Dern’s program has so many qualifiers that they will arrive in two waves of 350 attendees each. “Atlantis resort is perfect for big groups,” he notes. “Without Atlantis, we wouldn’t have considered The Bahamas for a group this size. Guests can spend most of their time at Atlantis, which cuts down on the need to find activities and the cost of offsite activities.”

The attendees will stay at The Cove Atlantis. All rooms at The Cove are oversized and feature step-down living spaces. “I definitely want to provide our group with all the perks that come with being at a large resort — variety of restaurants, activities, pools and beaches, as well as experience handling large groups. Being at The Cove allows us to offer the Atlantis experience to our guests and still have the feeling of a luxury hotel. Each room is a mini-suite with a sitting area, and all rooms have a water view, so all of our guests will feel like VIPs.”

They’ll also have plenty of free time. “I find that at a sun and fun destination, people just want time on their own to relax,” Dern states. “We have group dinners planned for three of the five program nights, and breakfast is provided daily. Other than that, guests are on their own.”

Dern says that for groups considering Atlantis, doing a site inspection is a must. “Atlantis is enormous, and there’s a lot to see, and there’s quite a difference between the various Atlantis towers.

“Transportation in Nassau (and Paradise Island) is a little different than in most other destinations,” he continues. “Although there are a few full-size coach buses available, they are older vehicles, more expensive to confirm and less reliable. Most group transportation in Nassau is in 22-passenger minibuses. There are a ton of these on the island, and the best providers have vehicles that are relatively new (luggage travels in separate vehicles). In a destination like this, I would definitely recommend using a DMC to manage transportation.”