By Independence Day next year, the Sandals property here will be the popular hotel chain’s second largest resort behind only Sandals Ocho Rios.
Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has embarked on a US$180 million expansion project to add a further 222 rooms to the existing 280-room stock.
The announcement came this morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Dover, Christ Church property, where Chief Executive Officer Adam Stewart also announced that the hotel would almost double its staff complement with an additional 520 workers at the completion of the project on November 30, 2017.
Stewart said almost all of the current staff are Barbadian employees.
“Ninety-seven per cent of the people that work in this hotel –– currently 570 people –– are Bajans,” the Sandals CEO revealed, adding that over 100 local staff members would be trained throughout the region in anticipation of the expansion.
SRI purchased Couples Resort (previously Almond Casuarina Beach) in December 2013, and undertook a US$65 million renovation of the property, turning it into a luxury cutting edge hotel.
The expansion will take the total investment in the Barbados property to US$245 million, with funding for the project coming from both SRI and Republic Bank (Barbados) Ltd.
Senior Project Manager Terence Des Vignes said the investment was the single largest for the hotel chain to date and construction would be carried out entirely by Barbadians.
“We have awarded the contract for
this project to both Shelbury [Construction Inc] and Jada, supported by their
sub-contractors Infra, RG Construction, GH Construction, Connoisseur Improvement Services, Preconco, Next Generation Electrical, Platinum Systems, C.O Williams Construction and C.O Williams Electrical Limited, to name a few,” Des Vignes said.
He stated that during the peak of the construction the property would employ approximately 1,200 people directly and an additional 500 support staff.
When completed, the expanded Sandals Barbados will boast five restaurants, a new spa and wellness sanctuary, a state-of-the-art 10,500 square feet conference facility that can seat a maximum of 550 people, an entertainment pavilion and three swimming pools.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy revealed that of the record 591,000 visitors to the island last year, over 20,000 stayed at the Sandals property.
“So indeed we have seen the positive impact, the marketing might of Sandals which of course benefit the entire destination,” said Sealy, expressing delight that with the expansion the hotel would double its staff complement.
Sealy also dismissed the notion that the all-inclusive property deterred visitors from experiencing other offerings on the island, pointing out that the evidence was in the tourist spend in other places including
St Lawrence Gap.