Thomas Hare and his partner Shaunagh Anderson now know what it feels like to be treated like royalty.
Yesterday, the British couple, was greeted by a guard of honour, as they stepped out of a white Rolls Royce and into the care of the Sandals Royal team that included their own personal butlers.
Also on hand to greet them was a beaming General Manager Ferry Zievinger and an excited Resort Manager Patrick Drake, who warmly received the couple, whose arrival was also marked with the cutting of a big red ribbon, in recognition of them being the hotel’s first guests.
The Royal is the second Sandals property to be opened here within the space of two and a half years.
Speaking to reporters during yesterday’s grand opening, Zievinger said that just like its sister hotel, Sandals Barbados, he had very high hopes for the sprawling 14-acre Royal resort, which boasts of 222 suites and a workforce of 600.
“In the two and a half years since we opened Sandals Barbados Resort, we have guests coming back to us, five, six times. They coming back to Barbados for one reason . . . and that is the people. When you ask them why you come back again [they say] because they are treated right, they are recognized, they are welcomed with open arms, which is Caribbean hospitality,” the resort general manager said, in expressing confidence about the performance of the island’s newest luxury hotel.
In fact, he reported that the property was already on a high in terms of its bookings.
“The bookings for the season look very, very good. We opened today with a good 80 rooms arriving . . . By tomorrow another 80 rooms [will be occupied]. [And] by the time we hit January 12, this resort will be running 90 [to] 92 per cent,” he said, adding that “for 2018, we already have on the books an average 97 per cent occupancy across the board”.
The new resort features a rooftop pool and bar, a four-lane bowling alley, a men’s only barbershop and two new restaurant concepts – American Tavern and Chi Asian Fusion. It also offers signature accommodation right up to the level of “millionaire”, as well as a 15,000 square feet spa and six restaurants offering world-class international cuisine.
During a guided tour of the property, Sales Manager Dana Gilbert told reporters that the Bajan butlers employed at The Royal benefited from the same level of training as their counterparts at Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom.
She also pointed out that the six restaurants at The Royal were in addition to the 11 at the adjoining sister facility.
“Guests coming to this resort have the opportunity to play at Sandals Barbados and likewise free exchange between the two. So that would give a total of 17 dining options at both resorts combined,” she said.
Officials also reported that in total the Butch Stewart-led Sandals hotel chain now employs more than 1,100 people on the island, with a total room stock of 502.
The general manager expects the number of job opportunities to expand as the group cements its relationship with Barbados.