The five-diamond Sandy Lane Hotel has been lauded for playing a key role in helping to keep the vital bread and butter tourism industry alive.
While he did not say how much revenue the St James property was responsible for bringing or how many guests per year, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Rudy Grant said the “precious, luxurious and unique” property had made a “tremendous contribution” to the development of the tourism industry over the years.
“Sandy Lane has been able, through your exceptional performance, to continually encourage more and more persons to come back to Barbados and encourage new persons to visit,” Grant said.
“Sandy Lane Hotel continues to be a leader. Sandy Lane Hotel continues to break the glass ceiling and . . . put Barbados on the map. It is not only the management that is able to identify the strategies that need to be employed and engaged in the various management techniques, it is you every single member of staff,” Grant told employees during their Diamonds are Forever 2016 annual Awards Ceremony Friday evening.
“Therefore when I think of the challenges which we have to confront, I am comforted when I reflect on the history of Sandy Lane and the fact that this hotel, has throughout the years, always been able to be at the forefront and to lead in excellence and to lead in quality and to lead in style and to provide to our visitors exceptional service,” he added.
However, with the island facing further decline in tourist arrivals especially out of the UK this year as a result of higher interest rates in the US and a weaker Pound, Grant called on officials of Sandy Lane and others in the industry to employ greater use of technology to keep numbers up and “think outside the box”.
He stressed that the industry was “changing in a significant way” including the proliferation of accommodation choices while acknowledging that the traditional way of doing business could no longer be relied on.
Grant said the visitor experience should always be top notch as that was even more critical for the industry at this time, even as hoteliers prepare to adjust and adapt to remain competitive.
General Manager Randall Wilkie said while the Zika outbreak forced many hoteliers to slash their rates last year, that was not the case for the Sandy Lane.
However, he said with the current economic uncertainties the hotel would be keeping a strong focus on talent development, adding that it would continue to focus on critical programmes it started last year to keep the hotel competitive.
“As we did in 2016 we will continue to identify, implement and support succession planning and training and development initiatives that will ensure knowledge transfer and the development of people; improve our reputation in the community that Sandy Lane is the ‘employer of choice’ . . . and reassess and execute the action plans generated from our focus groups,” Wilkie said.
During the awards ceremony, a number of the more than 700 staff were recognized for their attendance and contribution to the hotel’s operations over the year.
Many of them walked away with thousands of dollars in cash, trips, hotel stays, dinners and trophies. (MM)