As Jamaican-based hotel chain Sandals continues to have excellent performance in Barbados with over 90 per cent occupancy rate, local staff were treated to a small sample of Kadooment celebrations as hotel officials acknowledged one year of operations.
Joined by guests, staff members of the St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church facility took part in a carnival-like celebration that saw the Bajan character Shaggy Bear, as well as costumed revellers, leading a “jump-up” around the hotel property, much to the delight of guests, some of whom took up vantage points to take pictures and videos.
General manager of Sandals Barbados, Ferry Zievinger, lauded the 570 plus staff members for their resilience and hard work over the past year, adding that he was satisfied with the energy emitted by participants for the celebration.
“This is just a sample of what we in Barbados call Crop Over,” Zievinger told guests.
“This is a very important milestone for us, and there is much more to come from Sandals for the island of Barbados,” he added.
Following the mini-carnival and entertainment, staff members and guests gathered as management cut the massive anniversary cake baked by Janelle Crawford and her team.
Zievinger later told journalists the hotel was operating at approximately 95 per cent occupancy and was set to increase to about 98 per cent next month.
He told Barbados TODAY the guests now coming to the hotel, which has a strong presence in the United States, were diverse and that there had been an increase in the numbers coming from Britain.
Zievinger, who took up his post in August last year, described the first year of operation as very successful with “a very strong opening team”.
“In January we closed on average with 95 per cent occupancy, and February is even higher . . . . And we are doing all that we can to make sure the resort delivers on all the expectations,” he said.
Zievinger said while he was expecting “the usual dip” in arrivals for the upcoming summer period, Sandals would do all it could to ensure those numbers did not go too low. He could not say, however, what the current booking for the summer was, but added that various promotions would be developed as needed.
He explained that, depending on the time of year, most of the guests continued to come from the United States, but there was an increase in the number of British visitors.
“The UK has been a very important market for us. But if we can increase the US market share, that would be great. But it fluctuates and sometimes it is split even, with the Canadian market in third place. [We are seeing] a little bit more from the UK and also Scotland, which is important,” Zievinger stated.
While he could not say what expansion plans were on the cards, or if the promised 200 additional rooms would still be pursued, the hotel’s general manager said management would now be reviewing last year’s performance to see what worked and what was not.
Sandals hotel is currently carrying out construction of a warehouse facility and laundry, and expansion of staff quarters to ensure the demand for the resort can be supported, said Zievinger. (MM)