The deal that has been in the making for Sandals Resorts International to settle in Grenada for a little over a decade is finally sealed!
Sandals which is known in many countries in the Caribbean has taken acquisition of the LaSource Hotel at Point Salines, St. George’s, and has opted to rebrand it as Sandals LaSource Grenada.
The grand announcement of the acquisition came last week Thursday by Chairman of the Sandals Group, Gordon “Butch” Stewart in the presence of State Officials including Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, and Leader of the Opposition Dr. Keith Mitchell during a gala reception.
Stewart said he has been trying to come to Grenada for about 14 years, and on each previous occasion it never worked out.
He gave the commitment that Sandals intends to be part of the hotel community in Grenada.
The Sandals Chairman said “holding hands” is the best way he knows of making a destination strong and that everything possible would be done to see that the name “Grenada” is projected in the various market place.
The advent of Sandals to Grenada is expected to bring economic benefits to the country.
“Everywhere that Sandals goes, that country does well… I am proud of the marketing that we have, the way we are able to project the destinations and the countries (that) are host to Sandals Resorts or Beaches,” Stewart said.
The Chairman also gave a promise that employees of the hotel would be engaged in exchange programmes at other resorts that are owned by Sandals.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adam Stewart who also spoke of Grenada being on Sandals horizon for a very long time said they are in a little disbelief that it has actually happened.
The younger Stewart disclosed that he and his father have been at LaSource many times in the past and have had their eyes set on the property for years.
However, the expectation of many locals of seeing Sandals opening its doors next month has been pushed back to sometime next year.
The CEO said that the original budget to spend and the commitment to LaSource are likely to be doubled, and the wish of having the hotel open in December, will now take a few months longer.
“We are spearing no expense for this resort… We have some sketches of what we may do here. It’s class, it’s top notch, it’s new for Sandals, and I can’t tell you all of the good things at one time,” he remarked.
As part of Sandals marketing thrust, Grenada would now be featured on a number of international television channels including CNN, Fox, and MSNBC.
Stewart said their job is to expose Grenada in the highest possible manner.
He said they have committed themselves to building some of the most spectacular accommodation that has ever been developed in the Caribbean in the new acquisition in the Spice Isle.
It was in 1981 that Sandals Montego Bay in Jamaica became the first hotel in the chain of resorts.
Stewart said 31 years later, the Group has established 22 resorts in six islands to become the single most awarded chain of resorts in the Caribbean.
According to him, Sandals has been the World Travel Awards Leading Hotel Group for 19 successive years.
Marketing plays an integral part in the hotel chain staying alive.
Stewart said Sandals has five hundred people engaged in marketing who are based in North America, and eighty in Europe whose jobs are to keep the resorts full.
The CEO indicated that Sandals is the single largest employer in the Caribbean, and that the benefits to employees go far.
He said Sandals is a company that believes in training, and giving people an opportunity to grow and develop.
Tourism Minister Dr. George Vincent who played a major role in ensuring that the deal with Sandals became a reality described the moment as “a game-changer for Grenada.”
Dr. Vincent told hotel managers, property owners and managers attending the ceremony it is now expected that the hotel chain would look at quality and service delivery in going forward.
The Tourism Minister said he was introduced to the owner of Sandals by Chairman of the Airlift Committee, Michael McIntyre who had invited him to a luncheon.
He said he left the luncheon giving the Sandals group the commitment that he would do all in his powers to make sure that Group gets to Grenada as soon as possible.
“Within four weeks we had a deal between the government and Dr. Stewart and Sandals because I had to tell my Prime Minister that this is business and we need to get it done, and get it done as soon as we can,” he added.
Prime Minister Thomas who welcomed Sandals to Grenada on behalf of the Government and People commended the resort chain in taking the decision to have the country as its seventh destination.
He referred to Sandals a strategic addition to the hotel sector in Grenada and a potential game-changer to the industry.
The Grenadian Leader indicated that tourism accounts for a major part of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and that tourism and hospitality have been identified by his government as one of the five transformational pillars of the local economy.
Prime Minister Thomas admonished the Sandals investors to utilise as far as possible the local agricultural products.
The Sandals Group has indicated that its Purchasing Officer is already in contact with local farmers on purchasing their agricultural products.