The burgeoning meetings industry throughout the islands is also bringing growth to the region's conference facilities. Aruba's new 40,000-square-foot Seaport Conference was the site of a three-day meeting for a corporate health group, with attendees from across the U.S. Dan Meister, managing director of Meister Meeting Services, Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida planned the meeting for 200 attendees. The group was based at the Aruba Sonesta Resorts at Seaport Village, within walking distance of the conference center as well as the beach, shopping, casinos, and restaurants.
"Aruba is a clean, safe island with good airlift and great hotels that know and understand the meeting and incentive business," enthuses Meister. "The service and friendliness of the locals is wonderful and leaves a lasting impression." Among the group's memorable leisure activities: a final-night pirate beach party on a private island owned by the resort, jeep tours, and golfing on the Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed Tierra del Sol.
This February, the Renaissance Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios was the site of an incentive trip for 100 dealers of Dimension I Spas in San Diego. "We really enjoyed ourselves. This was the first time we had done an all-inclusive package and that was definitely the way to go," says meeting planner Chris A. Theriot. The group traveled from throughout the U.S. and Theriot found transportation into Jamaica a cinch. While at the 720-room property, participants enjoyed activities ranging from climbing Dunn's River Falls to parasailing to horseback riding.