Fifty years ago the main resort destinations in the
Caribbean were Cuba and the Bahamas, both of
which could easily be accessed from Miami on
prop engine planes.
Iconic hotels like the Nacional in Havana and
the British Colonial in Nassau were celebrity
stops and newsmakers.
Puerto Rico was emerging, as well.
Operation Bootstrap, which began in 1946 to move Puerto Rico toward industrialization, sponsored a competition
to select the design of a new hotel that would be govern-ment-owned but leased to an international hospitality operator.
The Caribe Hilton was the result, a spankingly modern structure that targeted U.S. guests when it was built in
It achieved notoriety of a different kind when an inventive bartender mixed and poured the first pina colada at the
hotel bar in 1954.
A goodly crop of small mama-and-papa-operated hotels
dotted the landscapes of Barbados and the smaller islands
through the ’60s.
These small properties grew to become the backbone of
the industry, places like Blue Haven and Bacolet in Tobago,
Ross Point Inn in Grenada, Sunny Caribe in Bequia, Blue
Lagoon and the Sugar Mill in St. Vincent and Malabar in
Jamaica, of course, had its own special resorts like Half
Moon, Round Hill, Tryall and Tower Isle, all of which are
on the scene today.
Still, there were not that many properties in operation in
the late 1950s. Air access was the controlling factor, but that
changed with the advent of the jet engine in 1957.
Club Med, which debuted in Spain in 1950, entered the
Caribbean in 1968 in Guadeloupe and today numbers more
than 80 resorts in 25 countries.
In 1961, Frommer’s published “Miami and the Caribbean
FROM THE ARCHIVES
on 10 Dollars a Day.” Although prices have changed since
then, the premise of a tropical vacation remains the same:
sun, sand and sea as well as local entertainment, attractions,
culture and people.
In 1974, John Issa opened Negril Beach Village in Jamaica, which became Hedonism II in 1981. Issa went on to
found SuperClubs in 1981.
Also in 1981, Butch Stewart, now chairman of Sandals
Resorts, renovated the Bay Roc Hotel in Jamaica and renamed it Sandals Montego Bay, the first property in an
empire that now spans five Caribbean islands, 12 Sandals
Resorts; four Beaches Resorts; two Grand Pineapple Beach
Resorts and the Royal Plantation Collection.
Cancun opened up in the 1970s, propelling mass tourism
By 2008, there were more than 220,000 hotel rooms in
the Caribbean, including Cuba and Cancun.
— Gay Nagle Myers
See ‘Final Blow’ To
Cuba Tourism In
Latest Hotel Seizure
June 21, 1960
Seizure by the Cuban government of the Habana
Hilton and Nacional hotels in Havana is being
described in trade circles as the “final blow” to the
island’s status as a tourist power in the Caribbean,
at least for the near future.
Virgin Islands’ Hotels
July 30, 1971
The three U.S. Virgin Islands joined forces to create
a unified hotel association. The Virgin Islands Ho-
tel Association (U.S.) combines the St. Croix Hotel
Association and the Virgin Islands Association
(St. Thomas and St. John).
Half Moon, one of Jamaica’s classic resorts, also is one of the grand hotels of
the Caribbean with a history dating back more than 50 years.
Hoteliers Warned On
June 21, 1982
American Airlines chief Robert Crandall warned
Caribbean hoteliers that scheduled carriers might
reduce service and support if hoteliers continue
to make huge room commitments to charter
carriers and other “cream skimmers.”
When you secretly hope you miss your flight,
you know it’s a perfect Barceló vacation.
If you could go on vacation right now, what would your perfect vacation be? Romantic dinners by
the sea. Relaxing in a spectacular, state-of-the-art suite with breathtaking views of tropical gardens.
Perhaps sharing exciting adventures with the whole family. Whatever your dream vacation may be,
Barceló Hotels & Resorts will make it come true. With an unmatched dedication and world-class
service that will surpass even your greatest expectations, every day you’re here.
PUN TA CANA JUAN DOLIO PUER TO PLATA SAN TO DOMINGO