Hotels upbeat, but car rentals slow

Some hotels are upbeat about bookings but car rental businesses are still not seeing significant business for the International Cricket Council Men’s T20 World Cup.

As the buzz around the island continues in the lead-up to the event, checks with some hotels on Thursday revealed that occupancy levels were around 80 per cent, in keeping with the assertion of chairman of the National Organising Committee Noel Lynch, a day earlier.

Some car rental companies, which reported more than two weeks ago that they had not seen an uptick in business, however, continued to lament the slow pace of rentals on the eve of the global cricket tournament.

While stating that the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association had not yet received official numbers for June, chief executive officer Ryan Forde said the occupancy levels were better than previous years due in large measure to the T20 World Cup.

“We would love for it to be a December or January, but that wouldn’t happen. It shows the rest of the industry and the country that the more events, regardless of if it’s a festival, if it’s sports, if it’s conferences, those will fill a lot of the summer, as well as diversify the client. It will take a while before summer becomes anything like a winter in Barbados but the World Cup obviously has added a benefit to this year’s June.”

Among the hotels expressing satisfaction with their bookings was the Wyndham Grand Barbados Sam Lord’s Castle which opened its doors last October.

“For T20, I’m very happy to say that we are full. We have a very few rooms left. Not all of it is due to cricket, because we do have a fairly good sized group in-house that is not related to cricket. But ever since the announcement of the dates by the ICC, we have been seeing a really good amount of interest,” said director of sales and marketing, Michelle Ollivierre.

Ollivierre’s comments came a day after Lynch told a town hall meeting at Kensington Oval that overall hotel occupancy climbed to 85 per cent.

Barbados will host nine matches during the T20 World Cup, including the final on June 29. Kensington will also stage its first match on Sunday, followed by other Group Stage games next week Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Three Super Eight games will be held from June 20 to 23.

Officials at Courtyard by Marriott, Southern Palms Beach Club and Butterfly Beach Hotel also reported occupancy levels of more than 80 per cent.

“They (bookings) are looking good. It’s looking strong for the month,” said senior sales manager at Courtyard by Marriott, Sophia Bryan.

“June is typically a slow month on the island. We have seen a difference. We’re not full. We still have some availability, but it is definitely looking well.”

Southern Palms’ marketing manager, Victoria Bourne said their bookings for June were more than last year’s.

“It’s difficult to say whether the uptick in bookings is from the cricket but we have seen an increase compared to last year,” she added.

Assistant reservations manager at Butterfly Beach Hotel, Harriett Crichlow said most of their bookings were from individuals and not groups.

“We’re happy. Before the announcement of the World Cup, it was looking very low but it just skyrocketed,” she said.

While car rental companies including Nationwide Car Rentals, Adams Car Rentals, Z&S Car Rentals and McCarthy’s said they had not seen any major increase in bookings, Courtesy Garage’s regional product manager Samuel Gaston said they were getting good business.

“They (bookings) have picked up as the event gets closer. You will get people who will turn up today and want to get a car for the evening. At this stage of the game, it will be too late.

“A lot of people want to get cars for the rally this weekend who called this morning and cannot get a car.”

Adams Car Rentals said they received a few bookings in recent weeks but were not in keeping with what they expected for a World Cup and manager of Z&S Car Rentals Umer-Farook Mehter shared a similar story.

Owner of McCarthy’s Garage, Colin McCarthy said: “I have some bookings but not for the World Cup. I have no overseas bookings at all. I am not bothered. I am not a big player. As it goes into Crop Over, we might get more bookings.”

Guy Myles of Nationwide Car Rentals also said there was no increase in business for his company.

“Nothing has changed. We expected it. People prefer to get taxis and coaches and not worry about the hassle of parking.” (HG)

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