Major Resorts Capitalize on Harper’s Bazaar Interior’s Interest in Kim Barrow Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00

Kim Simplis-Barrow’s advocacy for special needs and underprivileged children and her brave public battle with breast cancer has drawn admiration from across the globe. It has resulted in numerous requests for features in international publications. Each time such requests are made, she says yes on one condition- that the feature be more about the country than it is about her. Harper’s Bazaar Interiors is the most recent international publisher to make such a request and once again, upon saying yes, Mrs. Barrow made sure that the wonders of the country would be showcased in the feature.

It would have been easy for Mrs. Barrow to simply allow them to do a photo shoot and interview in some studio in Los Angeles. Instead, she insisted that the setting for each shoot be one of Belize’s many tourist destinations. This is not a condition that publishers regularly would accept. The result of such condition would in effect be leaning the article closer to the category of an advertisement and advertisements in such magazines cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of US$40,000 for a full page spread. The magazine accepted Mrs. Barrow’s proposal and changed the angle of its special feature.

Instead of a feature that would have likely been solely on the professional success and philanthropic initiatives of Mrs. Barrow, Harper’s Bazaar Interiors released its May/June issue on May 1st with an eleven page spread titled “ISLAND LIFE- At home in Belize with ‘First Lady’ Kim Simplis-Barrow”. The editorial feature encompasses everything that would attract tourists to Belize as the team travelled with Mrs. Barrow to destinations such as Lamanai Archaeological Reserve, Placencia, the Silk Cayes and Ambergris Caye as well as the luxury private island Cayo Espanto. Resorts that are featured include Turtle Inn, Victoria House, El Secreto and Cayo Espanto. Laurent Levy, Harper’s Cinematographer, explains that the goal of the feature is to invite people to join “a design, architectural and touristic journey of a lifetime hosted by the First Lady of Belize Kim Simplis-Barrow: from Creole and Victorian Colonial architecture seafront hotels to picturesque thatched Balinese inspired beach Cabanas to uber luxurious private boutique resorts, Belize has it all in terms of luxury, comfort and amenities”.

The magazine is sold at about US$7.50 a copy and boasts a regular circulation of 100,000 copies. Its distributed mainly in luxury hotels, spas and high end interior stores in United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East. Its biggest reader base is among those between the ages of 35-54 with an average house hold income of US$95,000. 92 percent of the readers are women. Benefiting tremendously from the exposure are two young Belizeans,  fashion designer Joris Hendrik and makeup artist Vanessa Awe, for the excellent job they did preparing Mrs. Barrow for each shoot.

Some sections of the press have raised questions about the cost of such exposure. As said before, one full page ad in such a publication cost in the range of US$40,000. Eleven pages on destinations across Belize would cost US$440,000. How much did Belize pay? Not a cent for the exposure. The Belize Tourism Board and the benefiting resorts split the bill on the cost of shooting in Belize. The Belize Tourism Board spent about US$25,000 and the resorts contributed in kind, valued about US$30,000. The cost was not much more than that of a routine familiarization trip for foreign press teams.

A statement from the Belize Tourism Board reads, “BTB capitalized on a low cost opportunity to feature Belize in an upcoming market that fits the demographics of Belizean visitors, to introduce them to the idea of Belize as a world class, premiere vacation destination.”

The magazine was launched locally at the opening of the Belize Tourism Expo on May 7th.