Inspirato’s Brian Corbett on Caribbean Travel and the Promise of Anguilla

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Sheriva in Anguilla

By Alexander Britell

Luxury destination club Inspirato was founded in part by brothers Brent and Brad Handler, who also started Exclusive Resorts, the ultra high-end vacation club. The company is now in nine cities in the Americas and Italy. Anguilla’s Sheriva project is the company’s first foray into the Caribbean, and according to Handler, the company is actively looking to add further properties to its list. Caribbean Journal talked to Inspirato co-founder Brian Corbett about Sheriva, the changing luxury travel market and why the company made Anguilla its first Caribbean choice.

Talk about the Sheriva project.

We have been looking all over the Caribbean for a destination, and Sheriva is on Anguilla. We looked at a number of islands, and a number of projects, and through a friend of a friend on Anguilla, we were introduced to Sheriva. It’s an interesting property that worked really well with our model, because it’s a self-contained, mini-resort, where we knew we could control the experience. They had a reputation for outstanding service, and the physical product was really interesting and really beautiful. So the flexibility to rent anywhere from a one-bedroom pool suite to an eight-bedroom villa with two pools, was really interesting to us. They’ve been tremendous partners.

What do you like about Anguilla?

It’s relatively accessible, given the fact that St. Martin is only 15-20 minutes away either by small plane or ferry, and St. Martin has great airlift from North America and Europe. It’s a quiet island, with sophisticated service, yet a laid back and comfortable atmosphere. The beaches are absolutely incredible, with very friendly people, and it’s just got good name reputation with the new Viceroy and Cap Juluca, and with Jumeira looking there. The brand recognition that the island of Anguilla was nice for us.

Are you looking to expand to additional projects in the region?

We are. We’re looking at markets like Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, and even places like St. Lucia, where it’s direct air access from North America. So Anguilla is great because it’s slightly remote, but it’s disconnected from St. Martin. But our members are also asking for destinations where they can fly non-stop from major airports and just be there, with direct airlift, to places like Turks and Caicos and Punta Cana [in the Dominican Republic]. Any Caribbean Islands where the governments really focus on service and education, that’s going to be a key differentiator. We will continue to look at islands like Anguilla that have friendly service and are welcoming to tourism.

How has travel changed during the downturn?

We’ve seen that among the more affluent, people are putting even more value on vacation time. I think people are realizing that the most precious commodity is time, so we’ve seen over the last couple of years that people aren’t traveling less, they’re just doing it differently.

How the Caribbean tourism industry going to emerge from the downturn?

I think it’ll do okay. The main challenge that we’re seeing is just with airlift. With airlines rightfully focusing on profitability, airlift to the Caribbean is becoming challenging. So I think the markets that have good airlift will continue to do well, especially as other parts of the world become less stable and more uncertain. The Caribbean is close [to North America], and it’s got relatively stable governance. But the key thing will be airlift and service.