BTN talks to: Tony Cowles, Sandals Resorts
Tony Cowles is the UK Managing Director of Sandals Resorts. He’s just returned from the Caribbean to inspect the damage caused by Hurricane Ike and also to check on the progress of the new Italian Village and Pirate’s Island Waterpark at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort & Spa.BTN: You’ve just come back from Turks and Caicos. How much damage did Hurricane Ike cause?
TC: The island of Providenciales only received superficial damage from the hurricane. There was light damage to some buildings but it was mainly downed trees and localised flooding. The vegetation in the Caribbean is so lush and everything grows so quick that it shouldn’t take to return to pre-hurricane levels.
Grand Turks fared somewhat worse than Providenciales, even though the islands are so close to one another. Some buildings sustained more serious structural damage. Hurricanes are one of the downsides to being in paradise. Whilst you never quite get used to them you learn to cope. The locals are well versed in getting things quickly back up and running.
BTN: How much damage did Beaches Turks and Caicos resort sustain?
TC: We escaped relatively unscathed with little structural damage to report. Like the whole of Provo, the main damage was mainly to the greenery - our landscapers are busy getting the gardens back to their blooming best. There was also some localised flooding, so as a precautionary measure we’ve closed the resort so we can rewire all the rooms and ensure everything is totally safe.
BTN: And how about the new ‘Italian Village’ at Beaches Turks & Caicos?
TC: Thankfully there was no storm damage. The work is progressing well and we remain on schedule to open by the end of January 2009.
BTN: What kind of experience can visitors to the new Italian Village expect?
TC: The resort takes holidaying in the Caribbean to a whole new level. We’re adding 162 family suites to Beaches Turks and Caicos, designed with families firmly in mind. They feature three areas - a children’s sleeping and play area complete with a games room and complimentary use of an XBOX; a luxury bathroom including a Jacuzzi; plus a luxury parents’ room, including four-poster bed and soft furnishings.
We’re also undertaking a major redevelopment of the Waterpark. It will be ten times the size of the original Pirate’s Island area and soon-to-be one of the largest in the Caribbean, featuring seven new water slides.
BTN: What advice would you give to tourists planning to visit the island soon?
TC: We offer two options. If guests are flexible with travel dates they can stay at Beaches Turks and Caicos at a later day to suit. If however they can’t change dates then we can book them at another of our Beaches in the Caribbean - Beaches Negril, Beaches Boscobel and Beaches Sandy Bay.
BTN: You were also in Jamaica. How are things looking there?
TC: The island is looking great and was thankfully untouched by the hurricane. We’ve just opened our Beachfront Swim-up River Suites at Sandals Negril. These ten suites are really special - you simply step from your zero-entry patio into the new pool. On the other side, your suite is nestled on the longest and best stretch of Negril’s famous seven-mile beach.
To find out more news about the hurricane, view pictures and videos and make donations, visit www.tcihurricaneinfo.com