BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (CUOPM) – Small hotels in the Caribbean need to better prepare themselves to serve individual niche markets with a more personalized experience, says St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of State for Tourism, Sen. the Hon. Ricky Skerritt.

Minister Skerritt made the remark ahead of the Caribbean Hotels Retreat to be held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & Royal Beach Casino from Oct. 1-3, 2008.

“With the majority of hotel properties in St Kitts & Nevis falling within the small hotel category, it will be beneficial to our hoteliers that we host the small hotels conference this coming October. St. Kitts & Nevis offers a range of product from high-end Plantation Inns to more mid-market hotels and dive resorts in our small hotels product line,” said Sen. Skerritt.

He said that as a former Board member of a small hotel, “I appreciate the peculiar challenges that small hotels face in an increasingly competitive market, but I also believe that our small hotels need to better prepare and position themselves to serve individual niche markets with a more personalized experience.”

“Serving the needs of the small and independent hoteliers” is the theme for the small hoteliers to be held by the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), in conjunction with the St. Kitts & Nevis Hotel & Tourism Association.

While the event’s primary audience is small hotels consisting of 75 rooms or less, the conference is open to all CHTA members.

The Caribbean Hotels Retreat is an informal gathering by design, created by small hoteliers for small and independent hoteliers, intended to foster the open exchange of ideas and experiences – and most importantly, to provide practical hands-on advice from industry experts that delegates can put into practice immediately.

The first day will be “Operations Day” with a comprehensive slate of related presentations devoted to hotel management in the morning, and ‘round-tables’ in the afternoon. The second day will be “Marketing Day” and will follow the same format. HSMAI (Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International) is developing content specifically for the small and independent Caribbean hotelier and will draw upon their rich vein of top quality speakers and presenters to provide a unique, hands-on, full day devoted to hotel marketing.

“Small and independent hotels still comprise a large percentage of accommodations throughout the Caribbean and a significant portion of CHTA’s membership, but competing with large hotels with vast marketing budgets has become increasingly difficult,” noted Enrique De Marchena Kaluche, President of CHTA.

“This retreat is a forum where hoteliers can gather to discuss challenges and strategies, as well as how we as a group can take proactive steps to increase consumer appeal for privately-owned boutique hotels and resorts throughout the Caribbean,” added De Marchena Kaluche.