Island Routes to Open in Dominican Republic, Grenada in Regional Expansion
Above: Island Routes GM David Shields (CJ Photo)
By Alexander Britell
PUNTA CANA – Jamaica-based tour company Island Routes is expanding to several new destinations in the Caribbean, led by the Dominican Republic.
The company, which is part of the ATL family that includes Sandals, is planning a launch in three areas in the Dominican Republic by September: Punta Cana, Samana and La Romana, according to David Shields, general manager at Island Routes.
That will be accompanied by openings in three other destinations by September: Aruba, St Maarten and Nassau. In the shorter term, the company is officially launching on the island of Grenada on April 28, Island Routes’ eighth destination.
“There’s really a plan to move outside of what might have been our comfort zone, where we have the Sandals presence and we have the relationships,” he told Caribbean Journal. “We have a determined commitment to expand another portfolio product by September.”
The strategy around these destinations is to provide tour options primarily focusing on stayover visitors, he said, supported by a cruise ship strategy.
The Dominican Republic expansion is significant for the brand, marking its first entry into a Spanish-speaking Caribbean country and into one of several new destinations that do not have an existing Sandals, Beaches or Grand Pineapple resort.
“We’re making a big, bold move into a Spanish-speaking territory,” he said. “But the size of the Dominican Republic in the scheme of Caribbean tourism makes them a very important player for us and makes the destination particularly attractive for us as we seek to expand and go deeper in the Caribbean.”
The Dominican Republic tour options will include a mix of ocean-based, land-based, river and cultural tours.
“We believe they will be very exciting offerings,” he said.