Sandals moves closer to upcoming Barbados property, awaits arrival of LaSource and overwater bungalows

A standing ovation upon enteringFrom Sandals Resorts International, Jeremy Jones, Regional Director, Eastern Caribbean, and Rhonda Giraudy, PR Manager, during a recent press trip at Sandals La Toc in St. Lucia.

By Cindy Sosroutomo

ST. LUCIA — Jeremy Jones, Regional Director, Eastern Caribbean for Sandals Resorts International, has never been busier – or more excited – as news breaks about future developments.

During a recent press trip to view Sandals properties in Antigua and St. Lucia, Travelweek learned about upcoming plans to debut a new resort in Barbados. According to Jones, along with the acquisition of Sandals La Toc in St. Lucia 22 years ago from previous owner Cunard Cruise Line, Sandals also acquired the licence to expand in Barbados where plans for a new property will finally come to fruition in 2015.

The company is currently in discussions with investors and an official announcement is expected in December.

If that wasn’t enough to keep Jones busy, he’s also heading up the development and grand opening of LaSource Grenada, also in December.

“We’re on schedule for LaSource with management staff all hired. Last week we recruited 500 line positions after interviewing 1,940 people. Orientation will start later this month,” he said.

Expected to be Sandals’ most luxurious property yet and its first new build in 10 years, LaSource Grenada will feature 225 rooms, infinity pool, lagoon and nine restaurants that will incorporate the many local spices that the island is known for. As such, the buzz about the property has been steadily building; it is currently the company’s fastest selling hotel with a 93% occupancy rate for the first five months of 2014.

And when asked how LaSource compares to other Sandals resorts, Jones had these choice words: “Every other Sandals in the region better be worried.”

Not to be outdone, however, is Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort, which will proceed with the development of 15 overwater bungalows early next year. As the Caribbean’s first ever overwater bungalows and the property’s top room category, the new rooms are expected to bring a new level of luxury to both St. Lucia and the brand.

“People travel 10, 15 hours to Tahiti every year to stay in overwater bungalows,” Jones added. “Now imagine if they could fly only four or five hours to stay in one.”

The bungalows are part of a US$80 million renovation at the Grande, which will also see the addition of 185 rooms and four new restaurants. Painstaking measures are being taken to minimize the eco-impact of these bungalows; the company is working with three marine biologists (one from St. Lucia and two from Germany) to ensure all necessary precautions are met.

“We have approval to build but we first want to make sure we don’t have a negative impact on the environment. We have to be conscious of the impact it has on the community, society and the people who live there,” he added.

Jones pointed to the island’s coastal design as the reason why Sandals chose St. Lucia to debut its first overwater bungalows. With the upcoming development project, he’s confident that the Grande will continue to be the company’s best-selling property in the region. Following closely behind is Sandals Halcyon Beach St. Lucia, which Jones noted has the region’s highest repeat business.

“It’s what hoteliers wish for, having repeat customers who come back year after year,” he said. “70% of our business is repeat. Our guests know that we’re able to customize individual holidays more than ever before.”

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