On the Eve of the Royal Wedding, the US Tourism office hosted a Royal Champagne Tea Party at the aka. Hotel, United Nations last Thursday. The wedding themed reception, promoted as a “Toast to Princess Diana,” attracted over 50 journalists and 60 top travel agents.
During a brief presentation, US Director, Derede Samuel-Whitlock announced the naming of the Princess Diana Beach to honor the humanitarian legacy of one of the destination’s most celebrated guests. News of the Princess Diana Beach hit the New York Times and local television stations earlier in the week and many journalists were anxious to learn about Barbuda’s connection to the Princess and plans to develop and promote the island.
“The Royal Romance between William and Kate has been an enchanting story with many layers to it and has captured world attention. We hold an important piece of this puzzle, since Barbuda was one of the last places where William vacationed with his mother Princess Diana, before her untimely passing,” Whitlock noted. “We see the Princess’ repeat visits as the “royal stamp of approval” for the island and the hospitality of its people. This presents a key opportunity to promote the destination’s royal connection and to brand our hospitality as the “royal treatment.”
Whitlock indicated that because Royal Weddings of this magnitude are typically a once in a lifetime experience, the US Tourism Team saw this as an opportunity to be part of a historic celebration. She added "We know that the Royal Wedding will be defining moment in history and our goal was to rise to the occasion and create a memorable experience that befits the celebration.”
The US Tourism Team built on the “pre-Royal Wedding” excitement by highlighting the destination’s strong position as a premier destination for Weddings and Honeymoons. Two models played the part of “Will and Kate” and engaged the crowd as they cut the cake and made a toast to the legacy of Princess Diana. Homegrown talent was infused throughout the proceedings to showcase the destination’s rich cultural assets, talent and hospitality.
Several well known Antiguan and Barbudan personalities were featured. Award winning stylist and beauty expert, Dr. Dave Ray, did a “Princess Pampering and Royal Makeover” demonstrating his exceptional skills in hair and make up on the “Kate model.” Artist Vernon Grig did an oil paint rendering of the Westminster Abbey, the prominent landmark where the royal wedding ceremony was be held. Legendary singer, Ambassador Rupert “Baba” Blaize performed his new single, a tribute to Princess Diana, “Return to Me,” which was well received by the audience, while performer Carolyn Punter serenaded the couple with Barbara Streisand and Paul Williams’ “Evergreen.” Catering was provided by Denise Roberts of Denise Sweet Stuff.
The Royal Champagne Tea Party has been widely credited for being novel, creative and a comprehensive way to promote the destination. The event was designed to propel interest in Princess Diana Beach as a new destination attraction and generate media exposure for the destination overall.