Sandals Resorts International is reporting that local hotels stand to benefit from the temporary closure of its Sandals Barbados property.
The Dover, Christ Church hotel is expected to undergo a major US$65 million upgrade starting on April 1. The hotel is expected to be reopened in December and should generate employment for 100 team members who will undertake Sandals exchange training programmes prior to the resort reopening.
Gordon Butch Stewart, chairman of the hotel chain, said in a statement that local hotels could “benefit tremendously from the planned upgrading of Sandals Barbados”.
“Our guests are given the option to cancel their bookings with us for the summer and stay with other resorts in Barbados whilst we are upgrading. We did not want to close our resort as we are always cognizant of the ripple effect this would have on the foreign exchange and general economy of the island. But there was no way we could keep the resort open with guests on property and effect the type of large-scale upgrading we require to bring the resort up to Sandals service levels,” explained Stewart.
He said, however, Sandals “cannot demand where customers book but leave the door wide open for them to make choices”.
Adding that many of the Sandals guests were repeat visitors who have shown a strong interest in Barbados and have relocated their annual vacations to the island from other Caribbean destinations, Stewart said: “When we analyze the booking trends of many of our loyal Sandals Select clients we have observed a significant shift to Barbados since we commenced operation late last year”.
When the announcement was made earlier this month about the pending temporary closure of Sandals Barbados, prominent hotelier Adrian Loveridge told Barbados TODAY the industry could lose air lift during the eight-month period that the hotel would be closed.
Loveridge said he believed most of the people who were booked at the hotel would rebook at other Sandals properties instead of other local hotels.
“We are going to lose something over 16,000 airline seats between April and December as a result of it. So it could have a harmful effect,” said Loveridge, estimating that the 280-room property would have attracted approximately 500 airline seats to the island per week.
And while he was not downplaying the fact that when the property reopened for the next winter season things could drastically improve, Loveridge said it was the summer period that really mattered for the current year.
“So they can say yes, come December we will hopefully end up with a world-class Sandals property but eight or nine months going through what looks like being a difficult summer anyway, with a loss of a lot of airline seats isn’t going to do the industry any favours for sure,” said Loveridge.
The Sandals renovation is expected to generate 1,000 jobs for Barbadian construction workers. And when completed is also likely to attract higher rates and employ greater numbers of Barbadian travel professionals than present, the company said.