Sandals celebrates 30 years at WTM

Sandals celebrates 30 years at WTM

A delegation of senior management from Sandals Resorts International has confirmed attendance at WTM 2011, where the Luxury Included® Caribbean hotel group will be celebrating its 30th anniversary and promoting a number of brand innovations including $500m of expansions, the introduction of a voluntourism programme, and expansions to their cultural tour programme via sister company Island Routes Caribbean Adventure Tours.

WTM 2011 coincides with a major milestone for Sandals Resorts, which was founded thirty years ago (27 November 1981) when the very first resort, Sandals Montego Bay, opened in Jamaica. Since then, Sandals founder and Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart has heralded many sector ‘firsts’ and was hugely influential in shaping the all-inclusive marketplace we know today. Sandals Resorts was the first Caribbean brand to use whirlpools, the first to offer satellite TV, the first with swim-up pool bars, the first to guarantee that every room was fitted with a king-size bed and hairdryer, and the first to offer personal butlers for its guests. Where other all-inclusives offered meals and rooms at a set rate, and recreation à la carte, Sandals Resorts’ prices covered premium drinks, tips, transfers and taxes, and all recreational and water sports activities including scuba diving. 

Thirty years after its conception, Sandals Resorts is still evolving and developing in order to maintain its positioning as one of the best and most comprehensive luxury holidays in the Caribbean.

SANDALS UNVIEILS $500M EXPANSION AND REFURBISHMENT PROGRAMME
Sandals will be announcing exciting enhancements to seven of its Luxury Included® resorts at WTM. The following renovations are part of a $500 million plan to expand and enhance the company’s offerings in the Caribbean over the coming decade:

Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort, Jamaica:  Following a $60 million upgrade project, Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort, the newest resort in Jamaica and the largest resort in the portfolio, now features three resorts in one - the Riviera Great House, Riviera Villas, and the Riviera Beach Club & Seaside. At the brand-new Riviera Beach Club, guests will experience poolside butler service, a grotto pool, fire pits; chic, lounge-like amenities at both the beach and pool areas and much more. Seven new and redesigned restaurants takes the total number of on-property dining options to 15; high-tech in-room upgrades mean suites now offer Plasma TVs and iPod docking stations, as well as newly outfitted bathrooms.  The resort’s Red Lane® Spa will also receive a new facelift with updated porcelain tiled floors, a new colour scheme, natural Indonesian panelling and coral stone coping around the spa’s central plunge pools.

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Sandals Montego Bay, Jamaica:  30 years on, the first Sandals Resort is better than ever with upgraded common areas and enhanced dining outlets, including a new beach bar with a contemporary Jamaican look, and a new pizzeria and grill.  Proving to be one of the most popular additions, a new cut stone deck with fire pit, resin wicker lounge furniture, and oversized chaise lounges offers the perfect post-dinner relaxations spot. Guests will soon have another lounge area to enjoy, set right on the beach, next to the Piano Bar.  An additional lounge deck will also be added on the beach in front of the Almond Building.  Eleven Deluxe Oceanside rooms have upgrades to their soft furnishings.

Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island, Jamaica:  On the exotic offshore Sandals Island, guests will soon be able to enjoy a new lounge and fire pit area on the beach facing the resort.  The resort’s Royal Beachfront suites in the Balmoral building will soon feature upgraded bathrooms, with new marble walls, floors, and counter tops, stained mahogany vanities, and backlit mirrors.

Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa, Jamaica: This secluded resort in Westmoreland, Jamaica will soon offer three new outdoor lounge areas.  The first, located on the resort’s expansive deck outside of Bayside restaurant, will include several sectional lounges and vertical fire pits, while the second area will feature three decks set right over the sand with individual fire pits. The third lounge area will be built near Neptune’s. Eleanor’s Caribbean restaurant will receive a whole new look, and the Italian restaurant Giuseppe’s will also be upgraded. The Café de Paris patisserie will receive a new outdoor lounge area.  The resort’s accommodations are also being upgraded; the top two categories of suites – the One Bedroom Penthouse Honeymoon Beachfront Suite and the One Bedroom Walkout Honeymoon Beachfront Suite – will see new soft furnishings, an upgraded entertainment unit including a 42 inch plasma television and bar area.  Couples can expect to enjoy these new features by the end of 2011.

Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island, Bahamas:  This royal retreat will offer a whole new experience, as all 144 rooms in the Manor Block will experience a complete transformation both inside and out, featuring a lighter, contemporary look and fully renovated bathrooms.  The most exciting feature will be the large balconies being added to 42 ocean view rooms.  An additional five ground-floor rooms will become walk-out rooms, providing direct access onto the new white concrete pool deck, which has also been redone. Beachfront fire pits and an expanded lounge area will complete the Manor’s new look.  An additional daytime bar on the pier and an upgrade to the famed Gordon’s restaurant will enhance the gastronomic experience, while the Royal Villas will feature newly designed landscaping. These renovations are expected to be complete by early 2012.

Beaches Negril Resort & Spa, Jamaica:  Guests will experience upgrades resort-wide, including an enhanced Red Lane® Spa fitness centre with all new Life Fitness aerobic equipment, upgraded locker rooms and new whirlpool. 225 rooms will receive all new soft furnishings and furniture, full bath renovations including new soaking tubs, natural-coloured marble vanities and upgraded tiling, plus a new armoire for 42 inch plasma televisions. The resort’s poolside and seaside restrooms will soon have a natural contemporary look, with wood panelling, individual basins and oversize tiles.  New furniture & awnings throughout the resort’s public spaces will offer families additional areas to relax together, while the pool bar will feature new stone countertop.  These enhancements will be complete by November 2011.

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa, Turks & Caicos:  The resort’s Presidential Two Bedroom suites will be receiving new soft furnishing upgrades in their parlours, to include new drapes, upholstery and pillows in a beige and coral motif.  Deluxe, Premium & Grande Luxe rooms in the Caribbean Village will also receive a soft furnishings upgrade and a custom eight foot mahogany entertainment unit with 42 inch plasma television, microwave and refrigerator, and added trundle beds or sleeper chairs. All rooms and suites within the French and Italian Villages will all receive new rugs, and by year’s end, all rooms at Beaches Turks & Caicos will feature a personal Xbox® 360 game console.  The exterior of the French Village restaurant row will receive a facelift, with new windows & doors, fresh paint and all new table tops and white Tucci umbrellas.  These new upgrades will be unveiled by the end of 2011. 

SANDALS RESORTS DEVELOPS FIRST VOLUNTOURISM PROGRAMME
Sandals Resorts, in conjunction with The Sandals Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International, has taken the first steps towards building a robust voluntourism programme, with the introduction of a Reading Road Trip experience.

The Reading Road Trip is a volunteer literacy program aimed at improving listening, reading and comprehension skills of local children between the ages of five and seven, and expands on programming developed by the Sandals Foundation through their school adoption policy.  Available to all guests of Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts aged eight and above, Reading Road Trip is a two-hour program that takes guests into the community to one of the Foundation’s participating adopted basic and primary schools in Saint Lucia, Antigua, the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos or Jamaica to engage small groups of children in active reading strategies.  Facilitators will be on hand to guide participants on how to engage and encourage children. 

Guests of Sandals Resorts in Jamaica can also Buy a Brick for Education and help support the construction of Jamaica’s first environmentally friendly school in Westmoreland, along with another school in Ocho Rios, both in Jamaica. Again, through The Sandals Foundation, guests and partners can get involved in these fantastic projects by purchasing a brick for the schools at either Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Grande Riviera.  Bricks cost US$50 and the Foundation will have the name of the contributor carved into the brick and placed on the respective school-grounds, preserving their legacy and contribution. We also hope that this will encourage guests to return to the projects in the future, in order to visit ‘their brick’.

ISLAND ROUTES ANNOUNCES EXPANSION WITH NEW TOURS AND NEW MARKETS
Sandals’ sister company, the award-winning Island Routes Caribbean Adventure Tours, has grown from a single outpost in Jamaica offering a handful of tours, to operations in five countries with over 140 tours within its two first years of operation. This grown is set to continue as Island Routes adds Barbados and the Cayman Islands to its programme.

While the company already offers existing excursions that encourage guests to meet the local people, learn local dialects, and play traditional Caribbean music, guests’ thirst for cultural and community-based interaction has spurred Island Routes into launching a wide range of new tours, including the chance to experience the culture, art and sophistication of the country’s capital, Kingston, trips to Jamaica’s Blue Mountains to study the production of the country’s world famous coffee, historical tours looking at the history of the Jamaican Maroons and a botanical climb in Saint Lucia. In a climate where the effect of all-inclusives on the local communities and economies is under the spotlight, Island Routes’ cultural tours provide opportunities for local businesses in places tourists rarely venture.