Business Perspective: Labadee, Haiti
In this visit and business perspective insight to Labadee, Haiti, we traveled here via the Mariner of the Seas in late July 2022. This visit to Haiti was not my first, but it was for my wife. We chose this location because of the millions of dollars that Royal Caribbean has invested into the resorts over the last several years for renovations. Since renovations are now complete, I will be able to provide some insights into the before and after perspective experiences to Labadee. But before we begin, a little business background about Labadee, Haiti.
Background: Labadee, Haiti
Labadee, Haiti, or Labadie, is a deepwater port located on the northern coast of the island Hispaniola, which is divided into two countries which are the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Royal Caribbean advertises the location as a “private destination.” However, it’s more of a 260-acre resort without the hotel and wide selection of restaurants.
In 2009, Royal Caribbean International invested over $54 million into renovating the location as well extend its lease through 2050. Renovations included making the destination a deepwater port, paved pathways throughout, a dedicated section for locals to sell their wares, and other improvements. The private destination now employs over 300 locals and also offers another 200 or so locals the opportunity to sell their products at the designated shop area.
The renovation investments in Labadee may have two strategic benefits for Royal Caribbean International. The first strategic benefit is that the investment will enhance visitors’ experience at the resort. Personally, avoiding the tendering alone was a huge experience enhancement for me.
As for the second, less obvious strategic benefit, this would be from a public relations perspective. The Haitian population is renowned for facing challenges, whether it be natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, to political upheavals. By supporting and investing in the area, Royal Caribbean inevitably is rewarded with a multitude of free press on a global scale in regard to its corporate social responsibility.
Welcome to Labadee, Haiti
As the Mariner of the Seas pulled into Haiti’s port, the sunrise over its mountains was absolutely stunning. At first glance, it seems like it’s going to be a gorgeous day at Labadee. The sun was shining, the waves were breaking, and our welcoming celebration, which consisted of locals dancing, singing, and merrymaking, commenced.
First impressions are so critical for business. Some organizations spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on setting the ambiance of the company before a customer even walks in their doors. For Royal Caribbean, at Labadee, its first impression is that by nature itself. An excellent strategic benefit to the cost the firm absolutely nothing to stage or even maintain.
Signature Drink: the Labadoozie
The Labadee Resort is steeped with concrete walkways, scenic photo opportunities, pathways for relaxation, trolleys for transporting visitors to just about anywhere they like within the resort, and of course, plenty of bars to enjoy Labadee’s signature drink, which is Labadoozie. It is this drink that both locals and visitors alike appreciate most in regard to Royal’s beverage offering. The Labadoozie consists of:
- 1/2 oz Orange Juice Concentrate
- 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice Concentrate
- 1/2 oz Papaya Juice Concentrate
- 1/2 oz Coconut Cream
- 3/4 oz Dark Rum
- 3/4 oz Coconut Rum
- 1/4 oz Grenadine
- Crushed ice
Royal Caribbean’s innovative marketing strategies and activities seem to be endless. A prime example of their ingenuity is the Labadoozie. This drink, in and of itself, is nothing spectacular. However, previous visitors to the resort rave about the drink to their friends and family back home. As a result, my wife and I have spoken with more than a couple of people who wanted to visit the resort just to enjoy its signature drink. A great way to build anticipation for visiting the island.
Visiting Labadee’s various beaches was one of the highlights of our business perspective journey to the island. The resort has four beaches which are Columbus Cove, Nellie’s Beach, Adrenaline Beach, and Barefoot Beach, which is reserved for passengers with a suite or higher cabin. During our visit, we chose to enjoy Columbus Cove. This location was a bit out of the way and took some walking to get to. However, the complementarity lounge chairs and umbrellas, as well as the continuous flow of alcoholic beverages, made the trek well worth it. Further, this beach also provides a great view of the peer and ship.
From a business perspective, providing a multitude of options for enjoying a day at the beach is an excellent way to cater to a wide array of visitor wants and needs. To illustrate, for suite passengers, an exclusive beach just for themselves enhances the value of their cabin. In contrast, passengers with no children may select a quieter beach like Columbus Cove as compared to Adrenaline Beach, which is near several family fun activities.
Nature Paths in Labadee, Haiti
If you ask 10 people, before they arrive at Labadee, their plans for the excursion, some would say making it a beach day, others gravitate towards the island’s zip line, and still, more would rave about their intended shopping activities. However, an unsung opportunity at the resort is its numerous nature paths. The nature paths at the resort wind through hills and abandoned forts alike. Not only is this an excellent exercise opportunity, but it also provides numerous breathtaking views of the resort, mountains, and Cove.
From a business perspective, this is an excellent Easter egg for visitors to uncover. As noted previously, Royal Caribbean does a great job with marketing and highlighting activities at their ports of call. However, providing visitors with opportunities to uncover amenities such as this adds excitement and a sense of mystery to the visit. Just another way to enhance a customer’s appreciation for the company.
Labadee, Haiti, offers numerous amenities and activities for Royal Caribbean passengers the visit the island. Amenities on most people’s to-do list here include visiting various beaches, their zip line, and shopping. However, there is so much more for young and old to do. On a final note, just a touch on before and after experiences as related to the renovation, it seemed to be well worth it. Avoiding tendering is probably the best update made from a visitor's perspective. However, second up would be the trolley which takes passengers throughout the island.
Author: Paul Borosky, Doctoral Candidate, MBA., Author. and Tishauna Borosky