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Trini making strides in St Thomas travel industry
ST THOMAS, United States Virgin Islands: A Trinidadian hospitality professional in the United States Virgin Islands is making his mark developing business and boosting service standards at one of St Thomas’ leading hotels and resorts. Kashmie Ali prepared his rise to prominence in the Caribbean hotel firmament by amassing valuable experience from his ten years working in hospitality management in the United States, before moving to St Lucia, where he devoted close to five years to Sandals Resorts as its regional operations manager.
For another five years or so, it was uphill literally and figuratively for Ali when he rose to director of operations for the fabled hilltop Anse Chastanet and its glittering, widely acclaimed, neighbour, Jade Mountain, in St Lucia’s charming southern old colonial town of Soufrière. Now, Ali is applying his impressive international experience as managing director of the 300-plus room, 40-acre Sugar Bay Resort and Spa in St Thomas.
Ali is a staunch West Indian who calls Virginia his home. Ali is a manager of change and recently presided over the transition of Wyndham Sugar Bay to an independently-run and -operated hotel, whose performance levels have increased by leaps and bounds over the past five months. With two years under his belt in the US territory, Ali is enjoying an island that is part Caribbean and part American, injecting his creativity and experience to upgrade the property’s facilities and motivating his team members to deliver high levels of customer service.
Ali is a staunch West Indian who calls Virginia his home, but he is inspired by the multicultural mix of the US territory which is home to numerous Caribbean nationals, which he believes, makes St Thomas, St John and St Croix very attractive to the Caribbean diaspora. With its familiar, undulating, gentle hills, easy access from the US and the Caribbean, agreeable climate and ideal location, Ali contends the USVI is an appealing choice for all travellers: “It’s really one of those places where you can go through the top ten things you find in the Caribbean and you would find it here, so that makes it a huge plus for anyone who wants to have the best of all worlds.”
The 47-year-old executive, who hails from Princes Town, reports 70 per cent of his guests request the all-inclusive experience at Sugar Bay, located in the East End of St Thomas where short ferry rides connect residents and visitors to the eco-island of St John. Featuring 294 spacious guest rooms and seven one-bedroom suites, the resort also features six restaurants, an award-winning full-service Journeys Spa, fresh water pools complete with waterfall and grotto, a secluded and intimate beach, supervised kids club and a state-of-the-art fitness centre.
Ali makes his rounds each day to ensure these resort attractions run smoothly, while at the same time looking at the future and more change he is managing. On his desk are plans requiring him to oversee a US$7 million upgrade of the resort’s accommodations. No sneeze for the experienced managing director who manages to effect big changes for the better and almost effortlessly in his properties.