Interview: Colm Hannon, Sandy Lane.

Sandy Lane, a hotel world renowned for its style, sophistication and world-class service. The haunt of celebrities and royalty alike Sandy Lane goes that little way further to give you so much more. What is it that makes the resort so special, is it the world-class golf? The luxurious rooms? Or perhaps the international five star cuisine? As GM Colm Hannon likes to point out, “Sandy Lane is a complete resort yet what makes it the success it is the people, the service - we have a fabulous physical side but it is the human side that makes Sandy Lane so special.“With its recent recognition at the World Travel Awards (Caribbean’s leading Golf Resort), Sandy Lane is basking in the light of greatness and is constantly striving to achieve and offer more then any other resort. At the helm of this success story is Colm Hannon, an Irishman impassioned by the resort and the wonders that it offers. Hannon has vast experience of the region having previously worked in Bermuda (Cambridge Beaches), for six years. Colm has much to say about his beloved Sandy Lane.
How is Business?2003 has been a great year. We are running at an 80 percent occupancy, which is fantastic, and arrivals from the US are up by 5 percent to around 40 percent. In fact the US market has been the most responsive this year. We are famed in the UK and the majority of clients arrive from there, but lately we have been moving to market the US more proactively. It makes sense; it is a market on our doorstep. With the increased flights from hubs such as Newark and Washington traffic is increasing. Let us congratulate you on your award, how important are awards such as this for you?Very important - in my view these awards are a clear stamp of quality. It’s not just about the physical attributes but the personal ones too, by this I mean the quality of service. We have also achieved the AAA 5 Diamond award, which is outstanding, a true reflection of what we are about and the levels that we offer. Only 1 percent of hotels globally have this stamp of quality. How important is the golf market to you?The golf market is a very important one - with the courses we have we create the ultimate resort, guests have everything at their fingertips. That is what we here at Sandy Lane want to create, something that has everything or one complete resort. Golf is a major attraction, and the standards here are world leading - of an international standard.Who designed your golf course?Tom Fazio, the man is a genius. We have two 18-hole courses, one quarry course and one sloping, rolling hills course leading down to the ocean. The quarry course is called the Green Monkey and is for the more advance golfer whilst the Country Club is great for the less experienced or novice player. The best of both worlds.What do you play off?Around a 17 handicap, not too bad but nothing special!How much business does the golf bring to Sandy Lane? Around 20 percent of the guests play golf - hard to say how many come solely for the golf itself.Do many local people play golf?There are 5 courses on the island and the majority of participants are holidaymakers, that’s not to say that locals are not playing, again it’s hard to say. I know that it is becoming more popular and accessible.With regards to your spa, what sets it apart from other spas? Well, we offer 47, 000 square feet of sheer indulgence operated by some of the best spa assistants in the world. Really it’s the over all magnitude of the spa that hits you and sets it apart. There are 14 treatment rooms - its absolute luxury designed to offer space and tranquillity. We offer a range of treatments utilising our natural resources. Banana Wraps, Jet Blitz, which is wonderful, Hydrotherapy you name it! One of the more signature treatments is the Chakra, a wet treatment and series of body wraps. Pure indulgence! I guess our true signature though is the Bajan Sync Body Massage - two professional masseurs synchronized, offering the ultimate massage experience, it’s quite unique. What spa products do you use? We use only the best products from across the globe. We have two main suppliers ESPA, and Doctor Hauschka - a very exclusive German range.Our spas editor has informed me that men’s treatments are very much the vogue at the moment - have you witnessed an increase in demand? Do you have a personal favourite?At present the split is roughly 70 percent female to 30 percent male. The male volume is up by roughly 10 percent. The spa is a major attraction - I do not know if people come solely for the spa however - it difficult to correlate. As I said before Sandy Lane is a total resort. As for my personal favourite treatment it would have to be the Golfers Tonic (Website description - Tee off with a relaxing back massage to ease muscle tension, followed by a holistic foot and nail treatment which includes exfoliation, deep massage with an appropriate aromatherapy oil, and an envelopment of warm paraffin wax. All designed to relieve the aches and pains of feet that may be feeling below par), as a keen golfer it’s great for loosening up muscles and increasing flexibility, ready for a round of golf.What do you see as being your biggest growth area next year?I would say, golf, romance and family markets.Are there any developments in the pipeline?Well, we are opening another international level restaurant. It will be a Japanese restaurant specialising in world-class sushi. Something a little different. Also the official opening of the Green Monkey golf course is set for the end of this month.Barbados is booming at the moment - clearing up at the WTA’s and then becoming the first in Kuoni’s Broadband Travel Series! Are these the golden years?Very much so. The whole island is pushing in the direction of improving facilities and service. Properties are upgrading and increasing accessibility. We are certainly leading the way in these alterations and improvements; we compete at a truly international level. No one else, without meaning to sound boastful, has the range that we have.Finally, there was an article recently in the Guardian saying that Sandy Lane is ‘so last year’. What would your response be to that?Simple, we have more celebrities and high profile guests then ever before. This is without doubt unfounded!

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