Monday,  October 21, 2019  11:55 am

WestJet & Velas Resorts talk luxury


WestJet & Velas Resorts talk luxury
From left: Matthew Djorsev, BDM, WestJet; Tania Humana, sales director, Grand Velas Los Cabos; Sophie Raymond, regional sales manager for Canada, Velas Resorts; Barbara Polanco, product manager, WestJet Vacations.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

WestJet and Velas Resorts rolled out the red carpet for its top travel advisors last Thursday (Sept 12th) at an exclusive dinner and info night held at Toronto’s prestigious St. Regis Hotel.

The luxurious evening, which unfolded in one of the St. Regis’ private dining rooms, was hosted by Matthew Djorsev, a WestJet business development manager; Barbara Polanco, a product manager for WestJet Vacations; Tania Humana, sales director for Grand Velas Los Cabos, and Sophie Raymond, regional sales manager for Canada at Velas Resorts.

WestJet and Velas Resorts hosted top travel advisors for dinner last week at Toronto’s St. Regis Hotel.

“Tonight’s all about our partnership with WestJet and our top advisors,” said Raymond of the evening, which welcomed nearly 20 travel agents and included a presentation about the various properties at Velas Resorts.

A raffle prize also was drawn: two nights at Grand Velas Los Cabos and two nights at Mar Del Cabo – which went to Barbara Scrocco, a travel advisor with TravelOnly.  

From left: Tania Humana, Velas Resorts; Barbara Scrocco, TravelOnly; Sophie Raymond, Velas Resorts.

Velas Resorts at a glance

A 30-year-strong brand, Velas Resorts is a collection of high-end luxury hotels that operate in some of Mexico’s most desirable regions.

Most properties in the Velas portfolio are all-inclusive – this being Grand Velas Los Cabos, Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Velas Vallarta, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit and Casa Velas.

Velas Resorts’ newest member of the family, Mar del Cabo on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, which opened in November 2018, is the chain’s first and only resort to offer a European Plan.

Mar del Cabo on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, which opened in November 2018, is the chain’s first and only resort to offer a European Plan. Photo: Velas Resorts

The ultra-luxe hotels have earned more than 52 AAA Diamonds, including the prestigious Five Diamond Award, and routinely earn top grades on TripAdvisor.

READ MORE: Unearthing the best of Mexico with Juan Vela Ruiz of Velas Resorts

Velas properties are also known for their super-stylish décor, Michelin-starred chefs, award-winning spas, magnificent gardens and personal concierge services, amongst other stand-out amenities.

For each suite at Velas Resorts, there’s a 24-hour personal concierge and the company, overall, has a staff ratio of 3 to 1 (three staff per one guest).

Unforgettable culinary experiences are also important to the brand.  

At Grand Velas Los Cabos, for example, there’s five gourmet restaurants led by top chefs, including two star Michelin-rated chef Sidney Schutte.

“If your clients want to feel like actors and actresses, Los Cabos is the place where you have to send them,” Tania Humana said. “We’ll treat your clients like the best VIP.”

Grand Velas Riviera Maya has eight restaurants, including five gourmet offerings. One of them, Cocina de Autor, is steered by celebrity chefs Bruno Oteiza and Mikel Alonso, and holds a AAA Five Diamond Award – the first all-inclusive restaurant in the world to win such an honour.

Frida, one of Grand Velas Los Cabos' gourmet restaurants. Photo courtesy of Velas Resorts.

Velas Resorts has other unique amenities too.

Select properties offer a “baby concierge” for guests travelling with little ones, and the resort’s kids clubs stay open until 11 p.m., allowing more time for Mom and Dad.

At the adults-only Casa Velas, a Spanish hacienda-style property just five minutes from Puerto Vallarta Airport, there’s even a “handbag bar” where guests can borrow a designer handbag at no extra charge.

WestJet’s Premium plans

WestJet sells Velas all throughout Mexico, and co-hosting a night with the Velas team, for a group of top performing agents, was strategic as the airline moves towards positioning itself as a full-service luxury carrier.

“We are moving more towards a premium product on board the aircraft,” Matthew Djorsev told guests.

Djorsev said WestJet is currently transitioning all of its Premium product (formally called Plus) into what will result in consistent service across the fleet in a year-and-a-half's time

“We’re going to have a two-and-two configuration, with larger seats at the front of the aircraft,” Djorsev explained.

Djorsev noted other Premium amenities that will appear fleet-wide, such as a dividers separating Premium from Economy, hot meals, porcelain plates and crystal glassware.

From left (of WestJet): Matthew Djorsev, Barbara Polanco at Toronto's St. Regis Hotel.

Barbara Polanco also noted that agents can arrange for private hotel transfers for their Velas-bound clients in Mexico, via WestJet Vacations – a supplement that is also commissionable.

For Coreen Doucett, a travel agent with The Travel Agent Next Door, it all comes down to selling a product that delivers a quality experience driven by value, and not necessarily by price.   

“It’s not about what travel agents benefit from,” said Doucett. “For me, it’s about my clients. Are they going to get pampered? Are they going to get a true five-star experience that isn’t typical? Is it unique?” 

“If my client is pampered, satisfied and happy, they’re going to phone me and say: ‘You have to top this next year,” Doucett said, adding: “I have no problem topping it with Velas.”  

Velas Resorts is currently running a series of incentives for travel agents:

  • Double bonus of Velas Experts get up to $120 USD per booking
  • One complimentary night in Casa Velas for every three nights booked
  • Travel advisors with more interactions on social media can win a stay of three nights for two at Casa Velas adults-only boutique hotel.

Booking window is ’till Oct. 11th, 2019. Travel window: Sept. 9 - Dec. 18, 2020 (blackout dates apply)

Travel agents can learn more about Velas Resorts, bonuses and points at agents.velasresorts.com.


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