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EXCLUSIVE: More Sandals Royal Plantations May Be On the HorizonAugust 12, 2010 By: Joe Pike
On the heels of Sandals Resorts major announcement that the Royal Plantation Brand will be retired and folded into Sandal Resorts or operated independently, Travel Agent learned that we could see new Sandals Royal Plantation properties in the near future.
We spoke to Kevin Froemming, president of Unique Vacations, Inc, worldwide representative of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, and learned that Sandals Resorts International (SRI) Chairman and Founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart is looking into possible locations for new Sandals Royal Plantation properties including St. Lucia, Antigua, The Bahamas (but not Nassau), St. Barth’s and St. Kitts.
“If we found an opportunity for a 100-room, boutique-style property, I think you can see us moving in that direction,” Froemming says. “The first thing that Butch always looks at is a place with great beach.”
But first things first, Froemning says.
The recently-announced brand restructuring will take place October 1. At that time, Royal Plantation Ocho Rios, Jamaica will become Sandals Royal Plantation, Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and like all Sandals Resorts, will no longer offer an EP plan or accept singles.
The resort will remain open during the transition and guest services will not be interrupted. Sandals Royal Plantation, which offers 74 oceanfront suites, joins sister property Sandals Emerald Bay in providing every couple with a professionally-trained butler during their stay and will include all of the amenities that Sandals Resorts is known for, including a Red Lane Spa, gourmet a la carte dining and luxury accommodations.
Regarding the villas operating under the Royal Plantation brand, Royal Plantation Island, Exumas will revert to its original name, Fowl Cay Resort. Meanwhile, Royal Plantation Private Villas, located in Discovery Bay, Ocho Rios and Whitehouse, Jamaica, will retain its name. These properties will not become part of Sandals Resorts and will be marketed independently.
Condensing the brands, Froemming says, will make it less confusing on the clients to which agents are pitching Sandals Resorts International brands.
“Before you had Sandals and Beaches, which everyone knows,” Froemming says, “and then you had Royal Plantation. Now that Royal Plantation will be Sandals, I think it makes it easier for agents to sell. We definitely took agents into account before making this decision and this was something they were all for.”
Sandals specialist Penny Sheldon, of Penny Sheldon Travel in Boise, Idaho, welcomes the transition.
“I think changing the Royal Plantation to the Sandals brand is a fabulous idea and I’m excited to start selling it,” Sheldon says. “It’s a beautiful property and offers our guests an additional slice of paradise. With the loss of Sandals Dunn’s River, we needed another presence in Ocho Rios. Sandals Emerald Bay’s All-Butler Suites has proven to be a great success and by adding an additional All-Butler resort, the luxury concept is only enhanced.”