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the pool bar in the evening

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Diderik Van Regemorter

A Caribbean
Luxury Mansion

Editors’ Note

Prior to assuming his current position in October 2006, Belgian-born Diderik Van Regemorter served as Hotel Director for several luxury cruise companies. Before that, he spent six years as Director of Food and Beverage at Marriott’s Marco Island Resort and Golf Club. After launching his career in the front office with Eurotel- Hyatt in Montreux, Switzerland, Van Regemorter spent more than a decade building considerable experience in food and beverage in hotels throughout Europe and the United States. Van Regemorter holds a BS in hotel management from the Centre International de Glion (Switzerland).

Property Brief

The Regent Palms Turks and Caicos is a luxury 72-suite resort, set amid 12 acres of landscaped gardens on the world-famous Grace Bay Beach in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Steps from powder-fine sands and azure waters, The Regent Palms offers elegantly appointed luxury rooms and one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites and penthouses. Its world-class amenities include a 28,000-square-foot spa and two signature restaurants: Parallel23, featuring tropical fusion cuisine in an elegant setting, and Plunge, a restaurant and pool bar. The property is part of the global luxury hospitality group, Regent Hotels (www.regenthotels.com).

Many people talk about the strength of the global travel industry. Are you happy with the growth of your business over the past year?

Absolutely. We had an excellent year in 2007. It was a very surprising year, as a matter of fact. We experienced the strongest summer ever for this island. Normally, hotels in the Caribbean are busy in season and do quite well. As summer approaches, you expect to see a slight drop in your occupancy until it picks up again in December. This past summer, we experienced higher occupancies than even before. When other properties were running around 30 percent occupancy, we were enjoying percentages in the high 70s and low 80s. This is probably a testament to the service improvements that have taken place.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, there are a number of luxury resorts going after a similar clientele. How challenging is it to differentiate?

One thing is for sure: the Turks and Caicos Islands are the hot new destination in the Caribbean. Until recently, few people had heard of Turks and Caicos. Now, almost everybody knows about these beautiful islands. They are such a unique and unspoiled destination. There are very few properties here that aim for the true luxury market, and we each offer not only a totally different experience but also very different locations. What makes The Regent Palms so unique is its central location on world-famous Grace Bay, as well as the property’s true Caribbean architecture and feel. It is exactly as people would imagine such properties to be. It has always been Regent’s commitment to immerse guests in the local culture through architecture, food, and genuine personalized anticipatory service. That is the Regent Experience and is what makes us so unique.

Is your target market the very top niche, or is it broader than that?

Our target guest is the affluent discerning young business professional whose hectic lifestyle requires periods of true self-indulgence and relaxation. These guests look for a pampering environment, a haven of peace, and a refuge away from the stress of daily life. Naturally, our setting lends itself perfectly to this, especially considering our award-winning spa. Most of our clientele resides on the East Coast, and yet we are seeing an increasing number of West Coast guests. Now with new direct flights from Dallas, this will surely increase. Our guests often seek the concentrated experience, which includes maximum rest, service, and enjoyment in minimum time, and the direct flight connections are key to delivering this experience. There is no better feeling than ending a hectic week in New York by going straight to the airport, and three and a half hours later, lying by The Regent Palms’ pool reading a book in total peace and quiet.

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The front entrance of The Regent Palms

Are you happy with the current provision of flights to the Turks and Caicos Islands?

Naturally, you can always use more. We are, however, happy that an increasing number of airlines are working to serve the island. The Tourism Board and the government of Turks and Caicos are doing a very good job at promoting the islands and letting people know that we are “Beautiful by Nature.”

What is your approach to food and beverage? Do you feel that you have the right product for your clientele?

In destination resorts such as ours, food and beverage plays a key role in the overall experience of our guests. It adds the local flavor. It brings our guests that extra touch of authenticity and, when well executed, leaves indelible memories. Nightly applause for the chef tells us we are making new friends with every dish served. One of our keys to success is the blending of local flavors, fresh products, and traditional family recipes from our local staff with some of the more traditional dishes to obtain a most creative and surprising melody of flavors. We have focused on guiding local talent and maintaining an authentic kitchen. Again, it is all part of the Regent Experience.

How did you end up in this business?

I was fortunate to have parents whose professions involved much traveling and entertaining. From a very tender age, I was exposed to fancy hotels and great restaurants, and I discovered a fascinating world. Although I did enjoy it from the customer’s perspective, even at a young age, I developed an admiration for the way some of these hotels and restaurants could create an experience that made me feel so good. I guess the rest is history. The passion for this incredible business never stops burning and, to this day, it still keeps me going. I truly believe that without the passion, you do not stay in it for very long. There are a lot of long hours and a lot of difficult moments, and the chances of becoming a millionaire are not that great. You’re going to be a millionaire in experiences; you’re going to be a billionaire in fond memories and rewarding moments, but not necessarily in dollars. So it is a vocation – you do it because you have the calling, and you spend your life trying to pass it forward. For me, every day is exciting.