TORONTO — Guest complaints at Sandals Halcyon Beach St. Lucia are few and far between. But when problems arise, the buck stops with General Manager Lennox Dupal. And that’s true on-site and even post-trip.
The 169-room Sandals Halcyon is the third smallest Sandals Resorts property and the last of the boutique properties. New resorts like Sandals LaSource Grenada with its balcony infinity pools, and the brand new Sandals Barbados, are getting all the attention. “These are opulent, futuristic resorts. I can’t compete with that. I told my staff, we have to excel at personal touches,” said Lennox. “Sandals Halcyon is quaint, intimate, with an air of serenity and tranquility. And we have the best employees.”
The employee training at Sandals Halcyon is so good, he adds, that most of these new Sandals Resorts are staffed with his workers, because they’re the best at what they do. “It’s good and bad for me,” he said with a smile.
Lennox was in Toronto this week meeting with travel agents in Ontario and Quebec. At one Montreal agency, 16 agents met him in a boardroom, eager to hear about Sandals Halcyon and sister properties Sandals Grande St. Lucian and Sandals Regency La Toc. “I love coming to Canada and meeting with Canadian travel agents,” he said.
Dupal has been with Sandals Resorts for 19 years. He’s been at Sandals Halcyon for 13 years. Sandals Halcyon has a 45% return guest rate and some guests have accumulated more than 700 vacation days at the resort. Sandals Halcyon also attracts its fair share of Canadians. “When I started as general manager, our percentage of Canadians was in the single digits. Now it’s about 30%. The work we do in Canada has definitely helped.”
People are looking for an authentic Caribbean holiday, he said, “and Sandals Resorts has that, Sandals Halcyon especially,” he said. Guests are drawn to the property’s lush green grounds, 23 acres in all. Every Thursday Sandals Halcyon’s head gardener leads a walk through the gardens, and he shares the spoils including coconuts, mangos and bananas.
Sandals Halcyon doesn’t get as much wedding business as other Sandals Resorts, but it’s upped its game with honeymooners, introducing a Honeymooners Embrace program three years ago with weekly cocktail party and dinner, both exclusive to honeymoon guests. Honeymoon bookings are up, said Dupal.
Despite the fact that it only has 169 rooms, Sandals Halcyon is still a big operation in terms of facilities, with five restaurants (including the newest addition, Kimonos) and seven bars. Sandals Halcyon also offers ‘Stay at One, Play at Three’ exchange privileges at the other two St. Lucia properties. Is there any talk of expanding Sandals Halcyon? “I can see us improving on what we have. But there are no expansion plans right now,” said Dupal.
Sandals Halcyon’s strength has always been its service, he adds. “Our return ratio doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. “When you have a small resort, you can get close and personal with guests. That’s the difference.”
Even post-trip, he said, travel agents can contact him if problems arise. “I must make sure I treat their clients well, to create return business for both of us. If clients aren’t happy, I tell travel agents, this is my problem, and I will fix it, and you and I will look good in the end. The after-trip experience is very, very important.”