Kellie Kowalski

Grace Bay Resorts

Grace Bay User Personas

The Project

Grace Bay is an upscale Caribbean resort group based in Turks & Caicos. They have beautiful properties with personal touch, but their web presence was scattered across multiple websites with no cohesive branding or content strategy.

Our Process

While each individual property would need its own distinctive style and tone of voice, they still needed to fit under the umbrella of the overarching Grace Bay brand. While the creative team tackled that problem, my team's first order of business was to audit their existing site content and then reorganize the information architecture.

I always start with moving post-its around on a wall to help me visualize the flow of content. It's also a wonderfully collaborative exercise, which gets a variety of perspectives.

Color-coded Post-Its covering a whiteboard wall.
Brainstorming on our department walls.
Larger post-its with questions written on them.
Our initial round of information architecture brought up several questions for the resort.
Another sitemap, which is much smaller than the first.
Not all the sites were as massive as the main Grace Bay Resort site, since they involved smaller, boutique properties.
Polished sitemap for Grace Bay Club
The final sitemap for Grace Bay Club, the largest and most complex of all the resort group's properties.

One of the things we discovered was that not all rooms were all ages. There were family friendly hotels, and others which didn't allow children. But this info wasn't always easy to find, and could result in booking hiccups further down the funnel.


Each property catered to different travelers with different income levels. This could range from upper middle class to the ultra-rich. To get a handle on these users, and empathize with their pain points when booking rooms or rental villas as these resorts, we decided to work through some persona exercises.

Ashley, our researcher, put together demographic data and formed it into 4 distinct personas. After some feedback with the resort, we tweaked things like income ranges, and gained clarity about how their users generally buy investment properties, which didn't work the way we'd assumed.

From there, I created an empathy map and enlisted the help of the copywriter and art director working on the brand. Both had been to the resort for the project kickoff, which meant they had a perspective our team did not.

Empathy maps for four user personas, with post-its divided into categories.
Notes are divided among Tasks, Feelings, Influences, Pain Points, and Goals.

The creative team was able to flesh out our personas and their needs, wants, and goals. From there, we updated our original personas. To really make this deliverable shine, and to reinforce the work the creative team did on the brand, I ended up creating large posters in the same style as the brand deck.

Poster describing Julie, the Celebrator archetype, showing her cell phone with her wedding picture.
Julie's goals, feelings, frustrations, and motivations.
User stories for the Celebrator archetype.
Poster describing Jason, the Explorer archetype, showing his work laptop.
Jason's goals, feelings, frustrations, and motivations.
User stories for the Explorer archetype.
Poster describing Lara, the Splurger archetype, showing her cell phone with a photo of her sons.
Lara's goals, feelings, frustrations, and motivations.
User stories for the Splurger archetype.
Poster describing Robert, the Traditionalist archetype, showing his iPad with a photo his fishing boat.
Robert's goals, feelings, frustrations, and motivations.
User stories for the Traditionalist archetype.


Based on the pain points identified in our persona exercise, and armed with feedback from the resort team about common issues, I began sketching wireframes of the most important page on the site: the room & villa details page.

This design made sure to address common issues like whether or not a room was kid-friendly, what amenities were available, and show photos of the particular room type.

Multiple iterations of a room page layout, as pencil sketches..
Starting with rough iterations.
Two final sketches, still in a rough marker style.
While the wireframes were cleaned up, we wanted to keep them looking like a rough sketch, so no one would try to jump ahead to design critiques.

Each wireframe was scanned in, and the sketches were uploaded to InVision. The final deliverable was an interactive paper prototype.


My engagement on this project ended after completing the UX deliverables, which provided a solid base for the rest of the project.

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