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Friday,  May 24, 2024 2:58 AM 

Karisma, ACV & agents serve up the perfect dish

Karisma, ACV & agents serve up the perfect dish
Pictured, L-R: of Karisma Hotels & Resorts: Gabriel Rodriguez, director of sales, Canada; Alex Portman, senior business development manager, Canada. Of Air Canada Vacations: Federico Berardinucci, manager, national sales; Tyler Mattioli, area sales manager.

Karisma Hotels & Resorts gave travel agents an authentic taste of its Gourmet Inclusive offerings last night (Nov. 23) at Cirillo’s Culinary Academy in Etobicoke, presenting the best cuisine that El Dorado Royale, El Dorado Casitas Royale and Generations Riviera Maya have to offer.

“We couldn’t bring the sand and the beach,” joked Alex Portman, senior business development manager, Canada, for Karisma, “but we’ve brought everything else.”

Agents in attendance were divided into teams to cook a range of sample dishes either from, or inspired by, the three Karisma properties, with some of the delicious fare including sautéed Thai shrimp and Asian slaw, paneer butter masala, and red snapper ceviche with mango and avocado.

The evening celebrated the Canadian Beef series, a partnership between Karisma, Air Canada Vacations and Canadian Beef that allows guests to enjoy a range of diverse and informative culinary events at selected resorts.

“We actually fly a Canadian chef down every month and they take our guests on a culinary journey,” Portman explained. “There’s cooking classes, there’s wine classes, there’s a big gala dinner at our Fuentes Culinary Theatre, [and] the clients are able to try some cooking on their own, try some wine pairings on their own, and go out to a nice gala dinner afterwards.

“[It’s] just a very interactive, fun week for those that love food and wine, so we really want to bring that experience to Toronto, to our travel agent partners, and give them an idea of what Mexico is like.”

A recipe for success

Portman said that the partnership with ACV and Canadian Beef has proven to be a fruitful one. “Within Karisma, we import 60 to 70 per cent of our beef chainwide from Canada, so we really wanted to highlight that partnership for our guests,” he remarked to PAX.

“We obviously believe that it’s the best quality [beef] in the world, which is why we source out so much of it… Air Canada Vacations is kind of the quintessential Canadian tour operator, and they’ve been a terrific partner. Overall, the offering that Air Canada Vacations has with our property is really terrific.”

The theme of the evening was fitting, given Karisma’s strident focus on its gourmet offerings. “What Karisma is all about is gourmet-inclusive,” Portman said. “There’s no buffets – it’s all about the culinary experience, and it’s all about the service experience of your clients as well.”

The company’s commitment to the quality of its culinary fare is demonstrated by its 70,000 sq. ft. onsite greenhouse, located at El Dorado Royale, which produces fresh vegetables, spices and other organically-grown produce; Portman also noted its wide variety of dining options and ability to accommodate specific dietary requirements and restrictions.

Air Canada Vacations’ Tyler Mattioli, area sales manager, was also on hand to express the company’s enthusiasm for the partnership, with El Dorado Royale, El Dorado Casitas Royale, and Generations Riviera Maya all currently promoted in ACV’s Spotlight collection.

What’s in it for agents?

Portman said that the partnership with Air Canada Vacations and Canadian Beef represented a great opportunity for travel agents to sell to clients who are food enthusiasts. “Any clients that travel for the Canadian Beef Culinary Series with ACV have all the inclusions of the Series, complimentary,” he commented, “so it’s a great reason to travel down to El Dorado Royal with ACV.”

Agents who book the Gourmet Inclusive properties have the chance to earn up to $250 per booking in Karisma Canada Cash, with the company also offering further platforms for agent support and assistance with sales growth.

“The idea for the retail team in Canada is to support the travel agent 110 per cent,” Portman said. “There’s some really phenomenal travel agent programs – we have the Gourmet Inclusive Vacation Consultant program, we have the Agent Rewards program as well; really great ways for travel agents to earn more revenue, to get tools to help them close more bookings, and also some really terrific learning tools to help them market our product, and grow sales with us.”

On the horizon

There’s plenty to look forward to from Karisma in the near future and beyond, according to Portman – starting with the company’s annual awards in December, at which its owners are set to distribute $250,000 from their own pockets to thank those that have increased their business with the company year-over-year. “They actually started by giving away $100,000, and this year they’re giving away $250,000,” Portman said. “It’s been going up every year.”

The company is also renewing its focus on giving back not just to travel agents, but the wider community as well; agents in attendance at last night’s event were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to contribute to Karisma’s Food Bank donation, while Portman also noted its recently-opened daycare centre in Playa del Carmen for single mothers.

As for new product unveilings? The new Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya is scheduled to open in 2018, while the new Margaritaville brand is ‘well underway’ according to Portman.

“We may be doing some palacitos as well as some overwater bungalows for families of all different ages,” he added. “[There’s] lots of new and exciting things coming from our brand, so just keep watching out.”

Agents who attended last night’s event were also encouraged to continue sharing their photos from the evening using the hashtags #KarismaSeminars and #KarismaExperience, with prizes for the best entries to be announced in the coming weeks.