MONTEGO BAY — Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has broken ground on Sandals Dunn’s River, the first of three new resorts coming to Jamaica as part of an ambitious development project valued at US$230 million.
Calling it a “poignant and tremendously significant time,” Sandals Resorts Executive Chairman Adam Stewart honoured his late father, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, who passed away in January 2021, at an official groundbreaking ceremony on May 26.
“This is an extraordinary day for Sandals Resorts and a moment of deep meaning for my family,” he said. “We stand today nearby where my father grew up, a place that was close to his heart. As we embark on our strategic growth plans, we are proud to bring to life his vision through this incredible property. There will simply be nothing like it.”
The ceremony follows last month’s announcement that SRI will transform two properties acquired last year, plus a prime parcel of beachfront land into three distinct resorts in Ocho Rios.
Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, who also attended the ceremony, spoke highly of Sandals’ impact on the island and what the three new properties will mean to Jamaica’s future success.
“As one of the most trusted hospitality brands in the world, Sandals has been one of the key players in Jamaica’s tourism sector for many years and we are pleased they will be expanding their presence in the destination,” said Bartlett. “The acquisition and development of three new Sandals [Resorts International] properties in Ocho Rios is yet another example of the significant investments we are seeing in Jamaica that will enhance our tourism infrastructure, increase our offerings and ultimately job opportunities for our workers.”
Here’s an overview of all three new properties:
SANDALS DUNN’S RIVER
Phase 1 of the development plan begins with the total transformation of Sandals Dunn’s River, which returns to the Sandals family under the same moniker as when it was originally added to the Sandals portfolio in 1990. SRI has targeted completion of the new Sandals Dunn’s River for Q4 in 2022. Upon completion it will offer a 260 rooms including 48 signature SkyPool Suites, a first for Jamaica, which will feature a private cantilevered, solar-heated plunge pool with infinity edge. There’ll also be 12 Swim-up Rondoval Suites with many featuring a Rooftop Terrace, both signature Love Nest Butler Suites, as well as 10 restaurants, including a specialty rum bar inside the brand’s newest Latin Fusion restaurant concept ‘Azuka’, nine bars, seven pools including two river pools, and the Red Lane Spa.
According to Stewart, the new Sandals Dunn’s River was the last project he and his late father collaborated on, and is an homage to the natural beauty of their beloved Jamaica.
“Jamaica means land of wood and water and in Ocho Rios, the sound of moving water from Dunn’s River and Roaring Waters River is part of the experience, an ethereal backdrop that is ever present and calming. This is the sound that will greet guests upon arrival,” said Stewart.
He added: “When this resort became available, my father and I jumped at the chance to reclaim it and bring it back into the fold where it belongs. Although he cannot be with us to see its ultimate transformation, he always will be a part of everything we do. His fingerprints are on this project and he fully embraced our plans to set a new standard of luxury in Jamaica.
“All that will come next on our incredible slices of Jamaica beachfronts, will be in tribute to him and because of him. I cannot fully express how sincerely thrilled we are to begin this work here at home.”
SANDALS ROYAL DUNN’S RIVER
Phase II will comprise the development of sister-property Sandals Royal Dunn’s River, which will sit adjacent to Sandals Dunn’s River and offer generous exchange privileges. Sandals Royal Dunn’s River is slated for completion in 2023 with approximately 250 rooms and suites.
BEACHES RUNAWAY BAY
In addition to the $230 million development of Sandals Dunn’s River and Sandals Royal Dunn’s River, SRI is also planning a $250+ million renovation of its third new location in Ocho Rios. Beaches Runaway Bay Resort will be the third family-friendly Beaches Resort in Jamaica. Upon completion, it will feature an estimated 400 expansive one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom suites, plus access to Runaway Bay Golf Club and its par-72, 18-hole championship golf course.