“In my youth I used to paint but at some point I had to make a decision about what I wanted to be,” tells Karolin Troubetzkoy of her early years. Raised in Munich, Germany the now highly-celebrated hotelier always felt a draw towards the hotel business, which in those days was a formidable bastion of male exclusivity and unused to a feisty young woman with a desire to discover and develop the best tourism product possible.
“Due to the experience of working at my aunt’s hotel and the passion she instilled in me, I decided to pursue this career [of hotel management] and not painting.” Karolin was one of the first students to take a university degree in the profession and was nearing the end of her studies when a recruitment opportunity became a stepping stone to her destiny.
Her aunt had sold the hotel while she was studying so when a representative of hotel management company Steinberger walked through the door of Karolin’s university classroom and asked for people to volunteer to teach German in Saint Lucia, she thought “Yes, I’ll go.”
At the time she knew nothing of the Caribbean, far less the tiny island on which she would land in 1980, just days after Hurricane Allen had caused considerable destruction including closing down every resort except one – the St. Lucian Hotel. At age twenty, she and two other female hotel management graduates found themselves in the midst of chaos, with no contacts and nowhere to stay on the island when they arrived from Germany via Barbados but luckily some helpful locals of influence aided their plight and Karolin spent six months working in Saint Luca.
“I felt immediately at home. It made me understand I was a citizen of the world and realise that I was meant for this work, and so I embraced it. I gave German classes and it was interesting, especially when a German word sounded very much like a patois curse! My classes were full and up to now I meet people who tell me ‘You taught me German!’”
She left in 1981 to explore other places in the world, not anticipating a return to Saint Lucia. Then remarkably, three months later, met Nick Troubetzkoy who was already owner of Anse Chastanet hotel although their paths had never crossed during her time on the island. After a long-distance courtship and much circumspection, Karolin returned to the island and married Nick, creating a marriage made in hotel heaven. For more than thirty years, Karolin and Nick have perfected their product, raising Anse Chastanet to the upper echelons of dive resorts and, since 2007, bringing the unique and stunning Jade Mountain to a wildly appreciative luxury market.
When she won the Caribbean Hotelier of the Year Award in 2012, Karolin looked at the portraits in the winners’ gallery and realised there was only a handful women reaching the highest levels of the tourism industry in the region, including Berthia Parle, also a renowned Saint Lucian hotelier. Despite the strides women have taken in the industry over the past thirty years, the First Vice President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association wishes more would join the ranks of this crucial regional economic driver.
The Hats and Crowns of a Tourism Titan
Karolin Troubetzkoy is the Executive Director, Marketing and Operations of Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain Resorts in Soufriere, Saint Lucia. She has been spearheading the marketing and day-to-day operations of these award-winning resorts since 1984, with Jade Mountain Resort added in 2004 when the pre-opening marketing phase began.
Since 2010, Mrs Troubetzkoy has been the President of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA). She has been instrumental in implementing a hotel booking engine for SLHTA, bookstlucianow.com, as well as the launch of a Saint Lucia Tourism Enhancement Fund: a voluntary contribution of US$2 per visitor per room night which enjoys a high compliance rate among the local hotels. The Tourism Enhancement Fund celebrated its first anniversary on October 1, 2014 having raised 1.8 million EC dollars.
Mrs Troubetzkoy also oversaw the development of a broad social media platform for the SLHTA including profiles on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, Google Plus and Pinterest as well as the launch of a variety of websites for SLHTA including www.slhta.com and www.bookstlucianow.com.
Mrs Troubetzkoy is a Director of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) and the Chairperson of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board Marketing Committee; she has been an active member of SLTB marketing committees for the past twenty years and a Board member from 2007-2009 and again from 2010.
As the current First Vice President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Mrs Troubetzkoy chaired the CHTA Advocacy Committee for the region from 2012-2014.
Since October 1, 2014, Mrs Troubetzkoy has been Chairperson of Caribbean Alliance of Sustainable Tourism (CAST). She hopes to provide guidance and expertise in best environmental and sustainable development practices for the region including water and energy management as well as the importance of “reducing, reusing and recycling”, stating that an immediate goal is to increase the online visibility of CAST including its past accomplishments and plans for the future.
In the field of philanthropy, Mrs Troubetzkoy has supported community projects through her various professional positions but recently she became Patron of the Saint Lucia Cerebral Palsy Association, a relatively new non-profit organisation which provides support and therapy for children and young adults with CP. She has been able to raise over US $20,000 so far in this role which has helped the Association to purchase urgently needed assistive equipment, and she has employed one young man at her resort in the type of practical opportunity rarely offered to sufferers of the condition.
Did You Know That Karolin Troubetzkoy
• Speaks four languages: German, French, English and Italian?
• Holds a degree in business administration with majors in both tourism marketing and hotel and restaurant management from the University of Applied Sciences in Munich?
• Is a board member of CTDC (Caribbean Tourism Development Company)?
• Is the Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany in Saint Lucia?
• Won the SLHTA Crystal Award for services to the hotel industry in 2002?
• Was Saint Lucia Hotelier of the Year in 2006?