NEW YORK CITY, New York - During our extensive coverage of the recently-concluded Caribbean Week, Travel Agent sat down with Richard Sealy, tourism minister of Barbados, and learned that Sandals Barbados is having a direct influence on bringing more flights to the island.
Sealy told us that JetBlue Airways has had several discussions about expanding their flights to Barbados as a direct result of the island's new Sandals Barbados. Sealy says Boston and Fort Lauderdale are two cities that could see additional JetBlue flights to Barbados.
"At the time of the announcement of Sandals Barbados, I knew we would see a seismic shift in Barbados," says Sealy. "This is all part of it, part of what makes bringing Sandals on stream so important and then the potential of having Beaches here too. This is great for the whole island, for all hotels. Hopefully the rest of the island will be inspired to pick up its game now."
Sealy also told us that the tourism board has also been in general discussions about bringing Delta flights to the island. Sealy says flight from Atlanta have been discussed but discussions remain "general at this point," Sealy says.
Last November, Sandals Resorts International (SRI) and the Government of Barbados reached an agreement following months of negotiations whereby the resort company would open the former Couples in St. Lawrence under the Sandals flag as well as manage a new Beaches hotel on the island.
Sandals Barbados, which opened earlier this month, however, is temporarily closed to undergo a detailed enhancement program. The wide-ranging renovations began in April and will include the introduction of seven new gourmet restaurants, bringing the total to ten, total refurbishment of the resort’s 280 existing rooms, as well as numerous other additions and enhancements that will offer Sandals guests a level of their Luxury Included experience.
The brand new Beaches resort will be built on the site of the former Almond Beach Resort in St. Peter.
Earlier this year, Air Canada included Barbados as one of several destinations it decided to add to its new Rouge flights. Rouge is Air Canada's new low-cost subsidiary. And Sealy says that decision was also a direct result of Sandals Barbados.
"That was mentioned by them in discussions," says Sealy, "that their interest had a lot to do with the presence of the new Sandals."
Caribbean Week, a series of trade and consumer events designed by the Caribbean Tourism Organization to promote tourism in the region, concluded on June 6.