Avanti Destinations Expands Belize Offerings in Response to Demand
PHOTO: The Portofino Resort on Ambergris Caye in Belize, the featured hotel in Avanti Destinations’ new Romance On The Reef package.
Avanti Destinations, a specialist in independent travel programs for Latin American and Europe, expanded its offerings for Belize after seeing a 22 percent increase in bookings to the Central American-Caribbean destination.
Founded in 1981, Avanti’s specialty has long been its capacity to assemble independent travel programs to the precise specifications of the client. Avanti has been way ahead of the game since its early development in the 1990s of booking technology that gave travel agents a great deal of flexibility for combining components into custom-designed packages through automated systems.
It put Avanti in an advantageous position as travelers have become increasingly more independent and desirous of ways to combine independence with support in planning and at the destination.
“I think our growth over the last several years is due to the increase in the acceptance of independent travel,” said Dalgaard. “And I think we are uniquely positioned with the tools we have. We’ve been around 33 years. We’re independent travel specialists. We’re not group specialists. We focus on the way I like to travel, independently.
“We’ve developed tools that help us connect the dots, some proprietary technology that allows us to seamlessly connect multiple destinations with trans-Atlantic air, hand-picked hotels, sightseeing. Ninety-eight percent of our business comes from the travel agent. The travel agents come to accept that we’re a very easy medium to use to book complicated FITs to Europe and Latin America. And I think that word is getting around.”
Although Avanti’s forte is its capacity to easily combine a wide range of components into a single travel package, the company also creates sample packages that can be used as starting points so that no client is forced to start from a blank slate unless they want to.
This month, Avanti unveiled three new packages for Belize. Two of them cater to the honeymoon romance market.
“Belize is a natural for romance travel,” said Dalgaard, “and a logical first destination in Central and South America, particularly because of the fact that English is the official language. Clients may come to Belize for a beach vacation to snorkel and dive along the reef, but the Maya ruins, rainforest, and wildlife soon get them hooked on exploring more of Latin America.”
The new Romance in Cayo package includes four days and three nights at the Lodge at Chaa Creek, with special romantic touches such as a couple’s massage and a candlelight sunset canoe tour on the Macal River. The package is priced from $1,649 per person double occupancy.
Romance on the Reef is a six-day/five-night package based at Portofino Resort, which has a reputation for having the best restaurant on Ambergris Caye. The package includes a couple’s massage, a candlight dinner and champagne. It starts at $1,729 per person.
The South Water Caye package is based on an island that is part of Belize’s largest protected marine park. It is known for its abundant marine life and white sand beaches. The five-day/four-night package includes an island hopping tour, three snorkeling experiences, and all meals. It’s priced from $1,685 per person.
Dalgaard predicts higher growth in Belize in the next few years, resulting from increased cruise line activity in the region.
“When the new Norwegian Cruise Lines port at Harvest Caye – just two miles across the water from Placencia – is completed sometime in late 2016 or early 2017, it will spur an increase in independent travel to Belize,” he said. “Currently, cruise ships only dock in Belize City, and shore excursions never go as far as some of the most appealing destinations. With the Harvest Caye port, cruisers will be able to explore Placencia, with its miles of white sand beaches, palm trees, friendly people, and a village made for strolling. Once they see that, they’ll want to come back on their own again and again.”
According to Dalgaard, Avanti’s top selling hotels in Belize’s Cayo district are all four star properties: the Lodge at Chaa Creek, the Ka’ana Boutique Resort, the San Ignacio Hotel; and Ramon’s Village on Ambergris Caye.
More by David Cogswell
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