NEW YORK CITY, New York – Travel Agent chatted with Sandals and Beaches Resorts Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart and other Sandals representatives at our offices in New York Tuesday afternoon and learned that the Caribbean all-inclusive giant is still actively pursuing a possible expansion into Mexico.
“This is something we’ve actually been trying to do since ’87 and ’88,” Stewart told us, “but we are still hunting.”
Kevin Froemming, president of Unique Vacations Inc., a division of Sandals Resorts Inc., told us the company was "serious" about seeking an area in Mexico this year for a new Sandals but those plans fell through. The search, however, according to Stewart, will continue and the Mexico Tourism Board is hoping it turns out well.
In fact, Travel Agent spoke Wednesday with Rodolfo Lopez Negrete Coppel, chief operating officer of the Mexico Tourism Board, who said, “A Sandals in Mexico would be a perfect fit. That is definitely something we would be welcome.”
In other Sandals news, construction just began on 26 Over-the-Water Bungalows at Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort. Stewart says that project should be completed about 18 months from now. Each bungalow in St. Lucia will have a private sitting room, with doors that fold away. Glass in the floors will allow yor clients to see fish swimming in the water below. In addition, the suites will feature outdoor Jacuzzis and showers, as well as hammocks above the Caribbean Sea.
Sandals will be officially unveiling a full renovation and refurbishment project at its Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in December.
Sandals is moving full steam ahead with its plans for a Beaches Whitehouse in Whitehouse, Jamaica. The master plan calls for the restoration of a heritage site located on the property, a new Greg Norman-designed championship golf course and a roughly 200-room Beaches resort next to the already existing Sandals Whitehouse. The idea is to have the golf course separate the two properties. There is no timeline on when the master plan will be completed.
Last month, Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, The Bahamas, debuted the first round of four new suite categories, which, along with additional rooms in multiple other categories, will make for a total of 249 rooms throughout the property by the end of May. Located in the Seaside Village, the new suites will include: Colossal Penthouse Constellation Suite, a spacious suite with sweeping views overlooking the beach; Colossal Beachfront Walkout Constellation Suite, featuring a separate living area and direct access to the beach via the private outdoor patio; Coco Plum Penthouse Grande Luxe Beachfront Suite, another spacious suite with a four-poster bed, modern décor with silver and blue accents and impressive views and Coco Plum Grande Luxe Beachfront Walkout Suite, a grand room with mahogany furnishings and large patio complete with beach access. All 18 new suites are available for bookings immediately and will also feature butler service.
Froemming told us Sandals will not act right away on its existing casino license in Turks and Caicos like everyone in the industry originally anticipated. Instead, Froemming says Sandals will continue to put its energy in its existing projects before it decides whether to dive into the world of casinos. The company will not be as patient, however, when its comes to a decision on renewing the contract of Martha Stewart, who inked a four-year deal with the hotel company in 2009 for a partnership between Sandals and Martha Stewart Weddings.
“That is something we will definitely do,” Butch Stewart said of renewing Martha Stewart’s contract. “When we start something successful at Sandals, we never stop it.”