A tourism consultant invests in a luxury villa in Tobago | Local company
DESPITE international travel and tourism being in a fluid and uncertain state due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a $10 million villa has been unveiled in Arnos Vale, Tobago.
Set on an 11-acre organic fruit estate in the village of Arnos Vale and perched atop a secluded mountain, Height of Being is an ultra-modern luxury retreat that caters to the most sophisticated and discerning travelers. .
The woman behind this venture is T&T-born tourism consultant Dr Auliana Poon, who is no stranger to tourism investment as Height of Being is an addition to the original Villa Being, also located in Arnos Vale .
In a zoom interview with Express Business last Friday, Poon said there was no better time than now to invest in tourism in the country.
“The global pandemic has brought the world to its knees and tourism has been the hardest hit of all major economic sectors. In this environment of heightened uncertainty, radical change and a new/next normal, it is essential to rethink, refocus, reimagine, reorganize and reposition tourism to reflect the radically changing scenarios and to be sufficiently future-proof,” she explained.
Poon, who lives in Germany with her husband, said construction of the villa began in 2020 and was completed late last year. Due to construction sector shutdowns during the pandemic, construction took an additional four to six months to complete, with no cost overruns.
“All local labor was used to build the multi-million dollar villa. I would say between 70 and 80 people were employed to complete this project. We have the talent, the people and the materials that could offer exquisite, durable and ultimate luxury villa development,” she remarked.
Villa Being and Height of Being were designed by Trinidad and Tobago architect Roger Turton.
Poon said the project was funded by his company, Leve Global, which develops tourism marketing strategies, tourism policies and plans for countries around the world, including South Africa, Singapore, Mozambique, Gambia, Tanzania, Abu Dhabi and elsewhere in the Caribbean.
When asked what prompted her to build another villa on the island, she said she was very passionate about Tobago and truly believed in the future of tourism.
“Tobago is a jewel in the crown of the Caribbean tourism empire. I truly believe that Tobago is totally and utterly special. I also believe that there is no better place to live, work and play. It is about fascinating people, environment and opportunity and I believe in the whole responsibility of sustainable development tourism.
Importance of marketing
Speaking about marketing the villa as a destination for international tourists, Villa Being and Height of Being director Kevon Wilson said they had embarked on social media campaigns while giving insights of what to expect in the new villa.
“Instagram is where we get the most traction and bookings. We get at least 100 inquiries a day. We also go through online travel merchant sites like Airbnb, Expedia and one or two agents who represent us in the market.The villa already has bookings for February from US visitors and we expect the flow to be steady throughout the year as international flights to the island resume” , Wilson said.
He said the price for a couple is US$399, which includes breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner that can be prepared by the chef for an additional fee.
“It’s a complete getaway, with breathtaking views and first class service at the villa. We are confident that people looking for exclusivity and that luxury component will book the villa for such an experience,” added Wilson.
Make the difference
Poon pointed out that Villa Being has performed well in terms of revenue from domestic visitors and people on the island for 2021.
“We’ve had an exceptional year I have to say, and that’s because people were looking to do things differently and that’s what these villas offer. It’s away from the traffic and bustle, the ocean view is stunning, and the service is one of a kind. We expect both villas to perform well this year,” she said.
The tourism consultant pointed out that Tobago should develop ecoparks, ecocommunities, bioparks.
“It is no longer about hotels, but about growing fruits and vegetables, feeding birds naturally and creating an environment of peace, tranquility and serenity. This is where we have to go as a country. Tobago is a five-star destination, and we need to deliver five-star experiences…great, exceptional experiences.
Poon said the company strongly advocates leading by example and believing in the talent of the people at T&T.
“With the creation of Heights of Being and keen to share our expertise with others, we believe we can make a difference and show the country the path to sustainable tourism development. As tourism consultants for 30 years, we recognize that the travel and tourism industry will come back strong, and we must be ready,” said Poon.
She added that she was willing to meet the new tourism secretary, Tashia Burris, to push the industry forward and do things differently.
About Dr. Poon
Dr. Auliana Poon is a courageous and passionate businesswoman. She created Caribbean Futures Ltd which became Tourism Intelligence International in 1990; Villa Being, Tobago, in 2000; Be sustainable in 2010; the Tourism Intelligence Academy in 2015; the Lévé event in 2016 and Leve-Global, which aims to cooperatively raise Tourism, Commerce and Life, in 2018; Outstanding Caribbean in 2020; and now the height of being in 2021.
Poon has worked in over fifty countries around the world including Abu Dhabi, Australia, Barbados, Bahamas, Iceland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mozambique, Singapore, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland and Switzerland.
An economist by training, she obtained a BA (hons.) and an M.Sc. (Economics) from the University of the West Indies, (Trinidad). She attended the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex (England), where she obtained a D. Phil. in 1988.
Poon was the first person in the world to earn a doctorate in technology and tourism. She delivered the “Intelligent Island” public lecture in Singapore in 1991.