We’re famous for building ships our guests love. We obsess over every detail of their onboard experience from before they even think of cruising until they decide to take the next one. And we’re really, really good at it.
But we know that the destinations we visit are just as essential in memory-making as our ships. “We’ve spent five decades learning what works and what doesn’t,” said RCL’s Michael Bayley, “and we know the potential of strategic destination development to deliver great guest experiences and meet the needs of local communities.”
So when RCL decided to get into the destination development business, we came from a position of strength. On June 24, RCL and Mexico’s ITM Group created Holistica Destinations Ltd., a 50-50 joint venture to radically transform the way we think about coastal destinations. As its name implies, the new company will use a holistic approach to generate significant economic growth for communities and local governments and preserve and sustain the area’s natural resources while offering a compelling experience for guests.
Holistica isn’t creating these destinations just for RCL ships and, perhaps even more surprising, not even only for cruise lines. “Having more destinations, developed in a responsible manner, gives travelers on land, sea, or air greater vacation quality,” says Bayley. “And that’s a win-win-win for the entire leisure industry.”
Holistica will begin with five projects already underway in Freeport, Bahamas; Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Kumamoto, Japan, among others. The Freeport project, currently under review by the Bahamian government, is a great example of the holistic approach. While focused on reimagining the Grand Lucayan resort, the project includes ambitious plans for local ownership, employment, job training, community investment, and sustainable construction practices.
“We’re not just re-opening a resort in Freeport,” says Bayley. “We’re looking at everything from transportation to utilities to local culture to responsible sourcing to entertainment to… well, to everything. It’s an ecosystem, not a property.”