Island Routes is celebrating its 10th anniversary. What started with a handful of tours in Jamaica in 2009 has expanded into a successful business operating in 12 countries and offering more than 500 tours for travellers.
“We’re celebrating 10 years this year, the company was formed in 2009, the same year The Sandals Foundation was created,” David Shields, vice president of sales at Island Routes told Travel Courier Digital. “It was conceptualized as a branded item for quality tourism activities throughout the Caribbean by Adam Stewart. He had been on a tour of Africa with high quality experiences and seeing how tours were being delivered, he wanted to create the model within the Caribbean and Island Routes was formed.”
What was formed primarily to support the Sandals and Beaches business is now the ground handler for Air Canada Vacations in Jamaica and Booking.com.
“Our tour portfolio is quite expansive,” he said. “We have over 500 tours across the region. Our markets extend in the Eastern Caribbean, Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, in The Bahamas we’re in Nassau and Exuma. We’re also in some destinations where there are no Sandals Resorts: Cancun, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Aruba and The Cayman Islands.”
To commemorate the 10th anniversary, Island Routes is running a 10/10/10 promotion, offering 10% commission, plus an extra $10 booking bonus per person on the top tours in Jamaica (certain restrictions apply).
“We’ve really been focusing on the travel trade and saying thanks to our partners,” he said. “We have a travel agent portal and we are committed to travel agents and paying commission. We love travel agents and we love the travel trade.”
New this month, Island Routes added the first double decker catamaran in Nassau, Bahamas. Sol Mate is exclusively for guests staying at Sandals Royal Bahamian and marks the the ninth addition to Island Routes’ fleet of custom-designed, premium catamarans.
“We are excited to mark the inauguration of our newest catamaran, Sol Mate, as yet another milestone for our award-winning tour company,” commented Adam Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Island Routes. “This luxury, double decker catamaran is tremendous and a real game-changer for sea excursions in The Bahamas. It truly is a testament to Island Routes’ dedication of offering our guests a second-to-none experience and the very best tourism product within the Caribbean.”
At 65-feet, the vessel accommodates 150 passengers and is fully equipped with an open bar, DJ station, snorkelling equipment and a water slide that plunges guests into the Caribbean Sea.
Thanks to its partnership with Sesame Street, one of the most unique options for families is offered in Turks and Caicos.
“We have what we call the Sesame Sail Away,” said Shields. “The characters are on the boat so the kids get to interact with them on a catamaran. That exists nowhere else in the Caribbean.”
For a real Jamaican experience, there’s the Mini-Routes tour. Although guests follow a guide, they get to get behind the wheel and take a MINI Cooper out for the excursion stopping for scenic sights, traditional island snacks and meeting with locals.
For Shields, connecting travellers with locals and small businesses is also key to the operation.
“The Caribbean has a lot. Sometimes what we do as a company is work on the ground with a small entrepreneur who has a vision to try and make that possible because we can bring business to them,” he said. “They see an tangible result from it and that for us is quite exciting. We’re not just here to sell the tours, we’re here to build the local capacity, build the communities.”