Luxury Hotels


So, the first night at the annual global meeting of Preferred Hotels & Resorts was a welcome dinner hosted by headquarters hotel, HALF MOON ROSE HALL, near Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Seagrape Terrace space flowed from open-sided ‘interior’ to terrace with whirling fans overhead to genuine exterior among sky high trees. There were open bars and  enormous buffets – OH the whole baby suckling pig. Salamander Hotels, who manage the resort, flew in a large task force from other properties.

Half Moon owner Guy Steuart made a speech, as did hotel GM Shernette Crichton. A calypso band had dozens conga-ing around the undergrowth.

Next morning saw the just-over-200 delegates gathering in an airconditioned white tent with a stage backed by a living wall and flanked by two gigantic video screens. Compère for the two days of business meetings was Terri-Karelle Reid, above, a general media personality and former Miss Jamaica (note her fabulous jacket). First, she introduced a video welcome from Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, The Hon Edmund Bartlett, who gave a highly impressive speech showing he had done his homework, he knew his audience: every other national Minister of Tourism should use him as benchmark.

Jamaica’s national bird, the hummingbird, is logo of this conference, themed ‘The Heart of Hospitality’. Preferred CEO Lindsey Ueberroth briefly ran through the history of the company, saluting such eternal members as 1893-vintage THE PFISTER, Milwaukee WI, and THE PEABODY MEMPHIS in Tennessee, as well as new-joiners VIRGIN HOTELS NEW YORK and other first-timers. Welcome to what seems like an extension of the central Ueberroth family, owners of Preferred.

Lindsey Ueberroth then had a seaside chat with Sheila Johnson, professional violinist, owner of Salamander Hotels and top sports teams, a powerful #Black Lives Matter voice and the power behind the annual Middleburg VA movie festival.

As is obvious, Preferred can, and does, pull in significant players. A panel that concentrated on what luxury consumers want featured four vocal women, two from American Express and one each from Signature and Virtuoso. Preferred Travel Group’s own President, Michelle Woodley, then shared facts and figures: currently 600 Preferred properties (124,000 rooms and suites) and 4.5 million I-Prefer members, who book earlier, tend to stay longer and spend more.  An afternoon workshop showed that loyalty gives access to profitable customers, it is cost-effective marketing, it gives competitive advantage, and it captures conversion. TO BE CONTINUED