While excitement for Tobago’s Carnival is growing, stakeholders have recognised the island would have to make a significant first impression to build the event’s reputation.
After months of silence, following the official announcement by the Tobago House of Assembly in August, the events attached to the island’s first-ever Carnival are being revealed rapidly.
The Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort has joined the list as the hotel announced Enchanted, an All Inclusive fete is set to be held on Saturday, October 29.
The party is set to be held at the ocean front area of the hotel, with its restaurants providing the meals during the event.
However, Magdalena General Manager Vinod Bajaj explained the hotel did not want to simply host an event to capitalise on the buzz of the newly announced Tobago Carnival but to create an event that will become a standout on the calendar, akin to popular Carnival Fetes such as Hyatt Lime.
“We’ve been planning for over six to nine months. My entire sales team and the operation team we’ve been planning to work on small details. You know we are very detail-oriented, we are not leaving anything out we want to make sure everything is taken care of from the patron’s arrival, that experience when they arrive, how they will arrive. Every detail that we think of, small details you can imagine will be taken care of,” said Bajaj who said the team recognised that it was crucial.
This fuelled the planning of the event whilst most were waiting on the announcement from the THA.
“The THA, they don’t have any history of hosting a Carnival. This is new to everyone including them. We have no data where we can look back at what we did or how we did it. This is something we got to create from scratch. This is what makes it so exciting. So incredible, that we can develop new standards, very high new standards,” said Bajaj “and this will develop for the future.”
Bajaj explained that his team had been planning for more than half of the year, but upon realising the magnitude of the event and its potential importance to the tourism sector, the Magdalena team reached out to an experienced figure within the business, Randy Glasgow.
“Initially, we had been trying to do it ourselves, as you know we do quite a few poolside events with the different (organisers). So we had been planning ourselves for quite a while so when the Carnival was announced by the THA we jumped in quickly, and we started planning, then we also realised we don’t have the expertise, maybe operational expertise,” Bajaj said concerning the decision to turn to Glasgow with whom he had shared a positive working relationship for six years.
Glasgow agreed that the event needed to become a landmark in the Tobago calendar and was thankful the hotel and its board had the foresight to recognise the potential of developing such an event.
“Having a Carnival for the first time in a market like Tobago needs the major players within the tourism sector and other sectors to come forward to show their hand. We have to give thanks to the Eteck board, the Magdalena management for putting your hands up first of all, for supporting the Tobago Carnival initiative,” said Glasgow, “The word is out that Magdalena is having an all-inclusive for Tobago’s Carnival and it takes the Carnival to another level. We are delighted to be part of this because it’s the first one,” he said.
“It was an easy, easy decision to join forces, with Mr Vinod (Bajaj) and the hotel to do something really spectacular. And we look forward to it very much. Our team is excited. We know the times are tough, and we’re going to work hard, we’re going to work smart. The first initiative will be to make sure we pack all the hotel with guests for that Carnival weekend,” he said, “So while it’s important for the hotels, to do their business and so forth, I think they (the hotels) will more be driven by making their contribution to the island of Tobago by endorsing and improving the upcoming Carnival.”
Glasgow noted that his expertise was required, particularly given the high international demand for soca stars currently, as, in recent months, soca artistes have been booked for events at Labour Day in New York, Notting Hill Carnival in London, Caribana in Toronto and DC’s Carnival as well as various recent regional Carnivals, making the market highly competitive at the moment.
“It takes some doing to get good artists because since COVID everybody wants to party, enjoy the music, so what happened at Barclays centre with Machel, a sold-out crowd 19 thousand people outside of the Caribbean attended the event, I mean that is phenomenal. For people, the appetite is there for good entertainment and world-class entertainment. So and it takes some doing because you wouldn’t believe in our quest to get the best. There are quite a number of events outside of the Caribbean, United States where our major artistes are in high demand,” said Glasgow.
He explained that while some had reservations about the THA’s relative silence since it was initially announced in April, until the dates and schedule were revealed in August, the Enchanted team had no doubt that the Carnival would happen and remained focused on securing top talent for the event.
“We were confident that once the honourable Chief Secretary announced that the Carnival is on. We knew we had to be patient and work diligently and we have been doing that since, talking to a number of artists because we think it’s important to have a good entertainment cast, for any good all-inclusive you look at the Hyatt Lime you look at St Mary’s College, all-inclusive, it’s driven by top entertainment,” said Glasgow.
The dress code for the event is fashionably white, as the event’s organisers want to create a picture that will further promote Tobago’s Carnival.