SANDALS Resorts International (SRI) aims to create more than 5,000 additional jobs across the Caribbean over the next five to seven years through a continued multimillion-dollar investment in planned new developments even as the region continues to grapple with the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The new jobs would increase the resort group’s employee count to 20,000.
The disclosure was made yesterday by the resort group’s Executive Chairman Adam Stewart in an interview with veteran Jamaican journalist Cliff Hughes on his mid-morning talk show Cliff Hughes Online, aired on Hughes’ Nationwide Radio.
Stewart gave the update on the luxury-included, all-inclusive resort chain’s plans while answering questions about his elevation to the head of the empire built over the past 50 years by his father, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, who died on January 4 this year.
“We have the better part of the next five to seven years of development already planned,” Stewart said, pointing to SRI’s acquisition of the former Jewels hotel in Mammee Bay, St Ann from Playa Group, which was previously run and managed by SRI as Sandals Dunn’s River; the old Jamaica Jamaica hotel in Runaway Bay, St Ann; the former Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao, which has been renamed Sandals Curaçao; and the former Buccament Bay Spa and Resort in St Vincent, which will be rebranded as Beaches St Vincent.
Stewart said his group will double the room count at the former Sandals Dunn’s River to 550. “It will be the most premium hotel in Jamaica,” he said.
Additionally, world-famous golfer Greg Norman will do the golf course at the former Jamaica Jamaica property, which will be added to the chain’s Beaches portfolio.
“We have expansion to Beaches Negril, we have a major expansion for Sandals Royal Caribbean, expansion to Sandals South Coast where we just finished building 20 new villa concepts which opened in December, we have a plan for Beaches in St Lucia, and I could go on and on,” Stewart, who is also executive chairman of this newspaper, told Hughes.
He noted that yesterday the resort group reopened two of its properties — Sandals Ochi in St Ann, Jamaica, and Sandals Halcyon Beach in St Lucia — that were closed after both countries implemented travel restrictions last year during the height of the pandemic.
“That’s another 700 jobs put back to work,” he said.
“An open hotel is a hotel with a future,” Stewart argued, and pointed out that his late father was instrumental to all the new developments that were being worked on by SRI.
“I’m going to live out and execute the plan that my dad and I had been working on. His legacy is going to be wrapped in the centre of it. He will continue to live on for the foreseeable future because his fingerprint will be all over what we do in the next five years,” he said, adding that the resort chain has more innovation coming in the areas of gastronomy, entertainment, and room design.
“The mantle has changed, the vision has not. So, for me, it’s just continuing what he and I had planned,” Stewart said.