Celebrate International Womens Day With Bay Gardens Resorts, Saint Lucia

International Womens Day: Girl Power reigns supreme at Bay Gardens Resorts, Saint Lucia

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Bay Gardens Resorts in Saint Lucia proudly stands as the Caribbean’s largest female-owned and operated resort chain, with 70 per cent of its management team being female.

Bay Gardens Resorts was founded in 1995 by Joyce Destang, an enterprising Saint Lucian entrepreneur. With four properties within Rodney Bay, Bay Gardens Resorts is a favourite hotel destination in St. Lucia for families, couples, and island explorers. They offer a diverse accommodation options for every budget and promote the personal and professional growth of their staff and giving back to the community.

Joyce Destang

Joyce Destang, the Managing Director of Bay Gardens Resorts and co-owner of Stardust and Company Limited, grew Bay Gardens Resorts to five properties with over 240 rooms in 25 years. Her vision was to offer great value and an authentic Caribbean experience to travellers, with a focus on Caribbean clientele and the diaspora. Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa has over 500 Interval International-affiliated timeshare owners. Mrs. Destang was conferred the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2005 and recognised as St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014.

Joyce Destang’s decision to become a hotelier was influenced by her early experience as a member of the St. Lucia Tourist Board, where she was invited to join the mostly male board by her friend, Peter Bergasse. Her contributions to the board, including discussions about Saint Lucia’s attractions, coupled with her hospitable nature, led her to foray into hotels.

“Starting my own business posed numerous challenges. Initially, I was more inclined towards real estate, buying and selling properties to make profits. I’d borrow money from the bank, invest, and save diligently, even hiding things from my children to maintain a humble lifestyle. Despite warnings from my mother about the nature of entrepreneurship, I persisted. While my brother sold his hotel due to the workload, I felt compelled to try my hand in the hospitality industry, driven by a desire to explore new ventures and create opportunities.

“The best part of being an entrepreneur is the sense of fulfilment derived from giving back and helping others, including family members. Even acquiring the Marina Haven stemmed from wanting to assist someone in need, despite initially not desiring another property. While there may have been hesitations, I have no regrets.”

“For female founders in hospitality, especially those just starting, my advice is to stay vigilant, keep your eyes open, and understand the dynamics of the industry. In the initial phases, it is crucial to be hands-on and involved in the day-to-day operations to grasp the intricacies of the business.”

“Throughout my hospitality career, I would say all my General Managers stand out prominently. I have been exceptionally fortunate to work with individuals who continue to show their unwavering commitment and dedication, and this has truly impressed me. I have always preferred having women in managerial roles because, in my experience, they tend to be more reliable. I can indeed say that I have observed this reliability in action.”

Berthia Parle MBE

Berthia Parle MBE was Bay Garden’s very first GM and former Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association CHTA President.

Highlighting female leadership and empowerment is commendable. In my experience, female bosses often excel in their roles and demonstrate reliability. My son (the Executive Director) Sanovnik Destang acknowledges this as well, despite being a man himself.”

“As for inspiring businesswomen from any industry, I admire those who demonstrate resilience, vision, and a commitment to excellence. While I may not have a specific individual in mind, I find inspiration in the stories of successful women who have overcome challenges and made significant contributions to their respective fields.”

“The reason I appoint women to leadership roles is because I believe they excel in their positions and can often handle responsibilities more effectively. One of my closest friends, whom I supported through various challenges, exemplifies this. Her Excellency, Dame Pearlette Louisy (Governor General of S. Lucia from 1997 until 2017). I was there for her during critical moments, offering advice and assistance. Our bond reflects the essence of sisterhood, where we support and uplift each other. We’ve remained close over the years, exchanging ideas, and supporting one another in both personal and professional endeavors. Our relationship embodies the concept of sisters helping each other out, both in business and in life.”

Waltrude Patrick

Bay Gardens Resorts waves goodbye to General Manager of the Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa, Miss Waltrude Patrick who has retired, With over 45 years in the hospitality industry, Patrick’s journey is nothing short of legendary, having played a pivotal role in managing multiple Bay Gardens properties and leading the brand through challenging times, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daryl Aaron, the previous General Manager at Bay Gardens Marina Haven, is now leading Bay Gardens Beach Resort. She has almost three decades of industry experience, and her leadership promises to continue the legacy of excellence. Yatsuri (Sue) Marshall has taken over as General Manager at Marina Haven, while Cheryl Gustave leads Bay Gardens Hotel.

Julianna Ward-Destang
Cheryl Gustave

Julianna Ward- Destang the owner and operator of Splash Island Water Park, an inflatable obstacle course-style open water sports park which is included for guests at Bay Gardens Resort. Julianna is Saint Lucia chamber of commerce Entrepreneur of the Year. Pauline Francis has also been appointed Marketing Manager.

Anice O Neil, who was also recently appointed commercial Director, is focused on creating a collaborative and empowering environment within the teams, enabling them to make decisions autonomously.  Anice, who has two decades of expertise shares an inspiring story about her path to Bay Gardens. “One day, while driving by, I decided to stop for a meal and enjoy the breathtaking sunset. As I glanced over at the construction site of Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa, a feeling of destiny washed over me. I knew deep down that this was where I belonged. When the property was completed, I eagerly submitted my application, and from that moment on, my story became intertwined with the vibrant tapestry of Bay Gardens Resorts. It’s a testament to fate and my unwavering passion for hospitality that brought me here, starting from the Front Office Supervisor role and moving through various positions such as Reservations Agent, Reservations Supervisor, Reservations Manager, and also Revenue Manager, has been an incredible career journey and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the opportunities given.”

 “I am thrilled and deeply honoured to be appointed as the Commercial Director after 16 years of hard work and dedication within the company. This promotion signifies not only my personal growth but also the trust and confidence the company has in my abilities. I feel a mixture of pride, excitement, and gratitude for this opportunity. I am ready to take on the challenges and contribute my best to the organization’s continued success.

She added: “Sisterhood is incredibly important to me; it’s a value that’s near and dear to my heart. As a female leader, I understand that the journey can be challenging at times. That’s why I believe in the power of supporting and uplifting one another. Guiding, coaching, and offering support are not just words, but actions that can make a significant difference. I strive to create a nurturing environment where women in the workplace feel empowered and valued. It’s not only about professional growth but also about personal development, understanding that our well-being as individuals is intertwined with our success in the workplace. By fostering a culture of mentorship and encouragement, we can achieve great things together.”

Donna Richardson – Travel Journalist