‘PUT YOUR SEATBELTS ON’: Sandals 2.0 racing into the future
Before Carnival celebrations had even subsided at the grand opening of Sandals Royal Curaçao last weekend, Sandals Resorts International (SRI) executive chairman Adam Stewart was already looking to the future, announcing growth plans for the company and a complete transformation of the luxury all-inclusive chain that was founded over 40 years ago in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The son of late company founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart revealed that the company plans to “at least” double its size in the next decade, adding to the 19 existing Sandals and Beaches resorts already in existence.
“The next 10 years is going to be insane; so, we’re asking you to put your seatbelts on!” he declared.
SRI’s plans are based on its substantial real estate holdings – prime land that was judiciously purchased throughout the Caribbean in the years before Butch Stewart’s death in January 2021, and added to during the pandemic.
“Over the years we ran around the Caribbean and if we saw (a piece of) real estate we loved, we acquired it – even though we didn’t have imminent plans for it,” says Stewart. “So, today, our company holds the largest land bank of Caribbean real estate of any company and it’s the best of the best of what’s out there… So, it gives us the opportunity to double the size of Sandals and Beaches resorts today on the best real estate that you can no longer buy.”
Stewart notes that the plan is part of SRI’s mission to “share the four corners of the Caribbean with the world.”
Indeed, the opening of Sandals Royal Curaçao earlier this month marked the brand’s first resort outside the English-speaking Caribbean.
Next up is completion of Beaches St. Vincent and the Grenadines, SRI’s eighth Caribbean destination, on the site of the former Buccament Bay Resort, in 2023.
It’s to be expected that the future destinations will be announced systematically and in typically sensational Sandals fashion in due course. At least two will be in Jamaica.
Existing Sandals and Beaches resorts will not be neglected, Stewart assures, pointing out that SRI now owns all of its own hotels, which allows the company to invest in its own assets quicker than if in a managed property.
To that end, he notes that SRI is in the middle of “blowing to pieces” Sandals Dunn’s River, soon to be reintroduced as “the next Sandals resort (and) the next generation of design.” Features will include Skypool suites and Rondoval suites with rooftop terraces, and a Red Lane Spa “like we’ve never built before” and using local mineral water.
Across the brands, Stewart says “every single element of hospitality is going to be reviewed (and innovated).”
For example, in Curaçao, Sandals has introduced its first-ever “island-inclusive” dining program, which gives some guests (Reward members and those in Butler suites) a US$250 credit at select local restaurants. Guests can also sign out (for free) a MINI Cooper to drive around the island for the day.
It’s part of the plan to do things “that have never quite been done in hospitality before” and “outperforming” the competition.
Beyond Dunn’s River, and St. Vincent, renovation projects are underway at a number of resorts in Jamaica, St. Lucia and Turks and Caicos.
Additionally, five new Beaches (including the Grenadines) will more than double the current roster of three.
After 40 years, the new executive chairman enthuses that the next generation of the Stewart family, based on the foundation and legacy of the founder, is just getting started.
“We plan,” says Stewart, “to take this brand to the moon!”
First published at Travel Industry Today