Sandals breaks ground on Phase 2 of Barbados resort
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Sandals Resorts has broken ground for its expansion project that will add 222 rooms to the 280 built on the original Casuarina Beach Club site at Dover Woods, on Barbados’ South Coast.
Sandals chief executive officer Adam Stewart said that the new Sandals product would be bolder and more innovative than any hotel in the same segment in the region. He said that currently 570 Sandals employees in Barbados were Barbadians, a total 97 percent of the workforce.
When phase two of Sandals opens, Stewart says, it will create jobs for another 520 people covering 60 different disciplines. In addition, Sandals will introduce, for the first time at any Sandals or Beaches resort, what Stewart described as “three new food concepts”, but could not say anymore because he didn’t want to let the competition know just yet.
Six months prior to opening and under the development program, over 100 Barbadians will be given the opportunity to get hands-on training at Sandals resorts around the region. They would help make the new hotel “second to none,” the CEO said.
Tourism Minister Richard Sealy said Sandals had brought not only jobs to the country, but its marketing clout in Barbados’ major source markets had helped the destination as a whole to rebound from the tourism doldrums.
He said Sandals had also helped Barbados to reach its record breaking number of tourist arrivals in 2015, as it was responsible for bringing in approximately 20,000 of the 591,000 visitors who came to the island.
“So we have seen the positive impact, the marketing might of Sandals, which of course benefits the entire destination. Full page ads in the Toronto Globe and Mail, the London Telegraph and all of the major newspapers around the world; the banner at World Travel Market, the Excel Centre; things that we could not pay for as a destination that have happened as a result of having the Sandals investment here, so we are extremely thrilled to see that the investment is being intensified and taken to another level,” Sealy said. “I think it’s fair to say that if the 280 rooms are employing 600 people, it is fair to say that the (total of) 502 – many of which are suites with the additional amenities – would employ the same amount, so we are talking 1,200 people working on this site.”
Sealy added that the disclosure by Sandals that 570 of the 600 people employed at its Barbados operation were from the island, while great news, did not tell the full story of how the company was benefiting Barbados.
“I think we should also mention that Sandals employs many Barbadian managers outside of this jurisdiction, so Barbadians are being honed in the skill of managing hotels by Sandals Resorts International elsewhere,” he said. “We also have properties on the West Coast – at least two come to mind right away – that are managed by ex-Sandals managers – The Club and of course Sandy Lane. So I think, that the question of local involvement cannot really be a point at issue at all.
“And I also think in that regard that I should salute the decision – because it’s one that I quietly lobbied for – that during the construction phase we use as much of the local expertise that we possibly can use. You would have the project manager speaking not only of the main contractors but almost all of the project consultants, and all of the sub-contractors are in fact local companies and that is a delight and something Sandals should be saluted for,” Sealy added.
Sandals phase two is expected to open in November 2017, in time for the winter tourist season.
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