Sandals to spend US$500m in regional expansion

(Jamaica Observer) OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Sandals Resorts International (SRI) says it will spend US$500 million to expand its brand and in the process revolutionise tourism in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

SRI Chief Executive Officer Adam Stewart unveiled some of the planned initiatives which will unfold over the next seven to eight years across the Caribbean, and will include the construction of new resorts.

“The Sandals City resort is very much under development,” Stewart said of the previously announced 250-luxury-room resort that is to be built on approximately five acres of land along Oxford Road in Kingston. Plans are also far advanced for the construction of a new off-shore village that is being built at Sandals Grande St Lucian, in the eastern Caribbean island, for which ground was broken last week. Some 150 luxury suites, including the company’s signature over-the- water suites accommodation, are to be constructed.

Stewart’s announcement comes as the Sandals Group, which includes Appliance Traders and the Jamaica Observer, is celebrating its 30th anniversary. He said 30 luxury suites would be built to represent every year that the company had been in business.

The Sandals CEO noted that the luxurious over-the-water-suites would, among other amenities, feature glass floors, and would be another first for Sandals and tourism in the Caribbean; as that type of accommodation had never been done in the region.

“The whole over-the-water-suite concept is a vacation product that has never been done in the Caribbean, it has never been approved anywhere, and so we have been working with the governments trying to get the relevant environmental approvals,” Stewart told the Observer Saturday night after he unveiled the new initiatives during a celebration at Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios.

Stewart said that throughout Sandals’ 30-year journey, many changes had been implemented to ensure it remained on top, and that accommodations like the over-the-water-suites and other expansion would further cement Sandals’ position as leaders in the industry.

“There’s nobody in Mexico or the Caribbean doing anything nearly as extravagant in an all-inclusive environment as Sandals… This is high-demand product, this is product that customers will come from all parts of the globe to come and experience,” Stewart said, noting that it would boost hotel occupancy and create more jobs.

Other plans, the CEO said, include the expansion of the Beaches brand with the construction of a 400-room resort at Whitehouse in Westmoreland, 100 private luxury suites at Beaches Negril and a 400-room resort at Bloody Bay in Negril. He said designs were also being done for Beaches properties in St Lucia and Antigua. Stewart also spoke about the Dragon Bay development in Portland which he said was very significant, as it would be a high-end development. But he pointed out that it was unlikely to come to fruition before an aerodrome was built in the parish.

“We are strongly encouraging the Government to do whatever they need to do to put in an aerodrome to develop that part of Port Antonio. The Sandals group would really like to see the Government, whoever is in power, keep Portland as a very high-end destination,” Stewart added.

Another of the company’s plans include an off-shore island at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, where several over-the-water suites are also to be constructed. Stewart said while the Jamaican Government was yet to give its final approval, he was optimistic that the new innovation would soon become a reality.

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