Our Elite Travel Designer Filip Pačes explains how he created a holiday in the Caribbean, to the British Virgin Islands and Saint Martin.
Filip talks us through the entire process, from first meeting with his client to initial trip planning, booking the holiday and feedback from the Caribbean. It’s a fascinating insight into travel design and holidays in the Caribbean.
An Introduction to Creative Travel Design
Exploring the Best Holiday Options
This client has a young family and really knows what he wants. He wanted to island hop. Last year they did Maldives and I created a holiday with five resorts.
In March 2023 my client specifically wanted somewhere in the Caribbean he hadn’t visited before, so St Barths wasn’t an option.
Antigua? British Virgin islands? St Kitts? Turks and Caicos? I started with a number of islands and explored the island hopping options for my client.
The client departed for the Caribbean only a month after his initial enquiry in February, which was very tight considering the exclusiveness and availability of the resorts we considered. It took me around three weeks to create this trip.
Selecting the Best Destinations for Every Trip
Turks and Caicos are furthest from the others. Amanyara is a really nice resort and COMO Parrott Bay is quite nice too. But it was hard to incorporate them with other islands.
On St Kitts it’s mostly larger resorts, so no suitable boutique options for my client.
For Europeans flying to the Caribbean it’s easiest to go through Saint Martin.
I offered my client a combination of Saint Martin with Antigua and Barbuda, including Hermitage Bay and the private island resort, Jumby Bay.
My other proposal was combining Saint Martin with the British Virgin Islands.
Creating a Smooth & Comfortable Itinerary
I built the itinerary around a Necker Island celebration week.
Necker Island is a private island resort owned by Sir Richard Branson, with 11 suites and ten individual Balinese-style houses.
Usually the entire island must be booked together, on an exclusive-use basis. Every year they have “celebration weeks” where guests can book individual rooms.
From Saint Martin there are domestic flights to Beef Island, which is the connecting point for all the British Virgin Islands. However, the Caribbean isn’t on a Swiss level for time. Plus or minus one hour is normal. From experience I know you must count on something being messy and commercial flight logistics that are not completely on point.
I chartered a private jet from Saint Martin to Beef Island. It’s a short flight in a turbo prop, only around USD 3000 per way. It’s a 13-hour, two-leg flight from Prague to Saint Martin. While travelling with his young family, this private charter saved a lot of stress and time for my client.
Some people may change or cancel their Caribbean plans because a scheduled flight isn’t available. Private jets are available and can both solve and prevent a lot of issues.
Connecting Different Caribbean Islands
Logistics arranged by the top Caribbean resorts are always as expected. Necker Island had its own boat to collect my client from the airport on Beef Island.
From Necker Island to the next destination, Guana Island, I negotiated a direct boat transfer, without any stops.
Guana Island could take clients by boat to Trellis Bay, where Rosewood Little Dix Bay would pick them up. A good alternative option is a private yacht. My clients spent a day cruising in the British Virgin Islands, which finished at their next hotel.
The final stop was La Samanna, a Belmond Hotel on Saint Martin. They took the commercial flight as a short delay wouldn’t impact on their overall itinerary.
Arranging Complimentary Upgrades and More
A big part of my role as a travel designer is ensuring all my clients’ preferences are known and understood by the properties, before their arrival.
Every stay should be absolutely as they expect. This can be big things like food preferences and experiences they want to try. It’s always very specific, like a particular room layout or having something available for medical reasons.
When one of my clients arrives at any resort, the resort already knows my client. The stay is already set up for their preferences.
By creating more holidays for the same client, I understand their preferences even further. This isn’t a service you can find by booking online.
At EliteVoyage we have a team of travel designers and we’re often travelling, trying and testing different hotels and destinations.
Thanks to this we often have direct contact with the general managers, so we can push forward requests that a standard hotel reservations desk wouldn’t entertain.
For example, I just informed a Maldives property manager that my VVIP clients will soon be visiting. She offered a complimentary upgrade from a one-bedroom to two-bedroom villa, with a branded seaplane transfer instead of the standard one.
Our job as travel designers is much more than logistics. It’s creating this value that nobody else can.
Learning For the Next Trip
Our job as travel designers doesn’t end when the client returns home. It’s essential we get detailed feedback on their experience, so we can learn every subsequent trip.
Necker Island was the standout of my client’s holiday. The rooms were great, many activities are included in the package and service was good.
It’s a very unique, very boutique concept. All guests dine together at a long table. You stay as Richard Branson’s visitor and he sometimes comes to visit guests.
This is a nice community concept but wasn’t ideal for my client because of their small infant.
Guana is a wild and very private island, where my client had their own beach. He definitely appreciated trying this destination and liked the beach. However, the service was poor.
Rosewood Little Dix Bay is a larger property and the most American orientated of all four of his stays. The beach was disappointing and the service was very American, with tipping expected for almost everything.
My client was pleasantly surprised by La Samanna, especially the size, quality and cleanliness of the beach.
They had a suite with a pool and a hire car to explore the island, but spent most of the time at the beach. Service was good although the rooms do need some refurbishment.
Always Being Available
What happens if your flight is diverted due to weather and you land on a different Caribbean island?
What do you do if there’s a medical emergency or you need to change your plans?
How can you change your itinerary halfway through a holiday?
As an EliteVoyage travel designer my job doesn’t finish with creating the itinerary. I’m available to support my clients when anything unplanned arises.
I’m in touch with hotel concierges, double and triple checking that a pre-booked service is being delivered on time.
All this is why I don’t have hundreds of clients. My focus is always on providing the best possible quality for every single one of my clients.