MONTEGO BAY — Is Sandals considering an expansion to the D.R.?
While there’s no resort announcement yet, there is word of an exploratory visit to the Dominican Republic by the Sandals Resorts International (SRI) executive team.
Executive Chairman Adam Stewart and CEO Gebhard Rainer recently led the SRI Executive Committee to the D.R., where there was a meeting with government officials including the D.R.’s President, Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona.
Stewart and other SRI executives had been to the D.R. on previous occasions, however this latest foray marked SRI’s first official visit.
The trip was designed to showcase the different destinations and to discover tourism investment opportunities, as per the SRI update.
During the two-day visit, the SRI team visited various areas of the island including Punta Cana, Miches and Las Terrenas.
It’s in Miches that all-inclusive pioneer Club Med, often the first to set up shop in a destination, opened Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda in 2019.
Angie Shakira Martínez Tejera, Ambassador of the D.R. in Jamaica and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the D.R. and in partnership with Executive Director of ProDominicana, Biviana Riveiro, arranged the Sandals trip. The delegation also met with the Director General of the Public-Private Partnership of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Sigmund Freund, and the Dominican Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roberto Álvarez.
Says Stewart: “We thoroughly enjoyed our brief but fruitful time in the Dominican Republic and wish to thank our hosts, especially President Abinader. When leadership at the highest levels makes time to discuss the power of tourism and investment opportunities that expand its reach, we know we’ve found a like-minded partner.”
Ambassador Martínez noted that plans for the visit had been underway for some time, and were of great importance to the D.R.: “Like Jamaica, where Sandals hails from, the Dominican Republic is a revered Caribbean tourism destination and the [tourism] industry is critically important to our economy. It is a dream of ours to have the very prestigious Sandals brand present here. We are honoured by the visit and excited by the possibility of our island nation becoming the first Spanish Caribbean territory to welcome the Sandals organization,” she said.
A JEWEL IN THE SPANISH CARIBBEAN TOURISM MARKET
The D.R. is among the most-coveted tourism markets in the Spanish Caribbean, and a partnership between SRI and the D.R. would mark a landmark first for the resort company, which so far has focused its efforts on the English Caribbean.
Earlier this year SRI reopened Sandals Royal Bahamian. And three new resorts are planned for Jamaica, including Sandals Dunn’s River.
All in all SRI’s expansion plans in the Caribbean, with an investment of nearly US$200 million, will result in 3,000 Caribbean-based jobs.
Said Stewart about the team’s visit to the D.R.: “This was an excellent visit at a time when we are pursuing expansion goals aggressively. We look forward to the possibility of what’s to come.”