Despite the depression in worldwide tourism from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Royalton luxury hotel chain has declared it is still committed to establishing its brand here.
In a letter introducing itself, SD Barbados Limited, a division of the Toronto, Canada-based Sunwing Travel Group, said: “Our commitment to Barbados has not wavered, and we are forging ahead – albeit slightly delayed due to the present global climate – with our plans to add the beautiful island of Barbados to our Royalton Luxury Resorts destination portfolio.”
The group is responsible for the renovation and rebranding of the long-established Discovery Bay Hotel in Holetown, a project which got underway in 2018 when Sunwing joined forces with Rex Resorts, the then owner of the property.
The company said: “Through our subsidiary Blue Diamond Hotels and Resorts Inc., the Starfish Discovery Bay Resort joined the portfolio as a mid-range all-inclusive property enjoyed by families, couples, and singles.
“However, against the backdrop of a deficit in new luxury hotel projects on the opulent west coast of the island, the acquisition created a prime opportunity to establish a hotel product in keeping with the luxurious signature of Barbados’ Platinum Coast.
“Therefore, it was unanimously decided to rebrand the dated Discovery Bay to the number one all-inclusive in the world as voted by TripAdvisor.
“Consequently, a timeline was established to introduce the west coast of Barbados to the world-renowned All-In Luxury Royalton product, which is devoted to providing the sophisticated traveller with a unique up-market, all-inclusive experience.”
The group outlined its plans for a new-look Discovery Bay property along the lines of its Royalton properties elsewhere in the Caribbean.
It said: “With an extremely successful track record in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, and Cuba, Blue Diamond Hotels & Resorts proposes a US$200 million, modern All-In Luxury (all-inclusive) resort on an approximately 4.5-acre beachfront site at Trents, Holetown St James. The property specifics include:
“A seven-storey modern-luxury designed structure with levels across individual buildings ranging from two, four, six and seven stories.
“Four distinct buildings including the Chairman Building, the Diamond Club and the Royalton.
“Eight room categories ranging from Luxury Junior Suite King to Luxury Junior Suite Double with Swim Up to Luxury Chairman Two Bedroom – totalling 250 rooms.
“Amenities including a gym, pool, watersports and children’s recreational areas.
“Four restaurants, five bars and lounges, spa, beauty salon, and a retail shop.
“The property extends onto an additional parcel of land on the Jamestown neighbourhood boundary, which will be beautified.”
The group also outlined some of the economic benefits the project is expected to bring to the island, including the creation of 600 jobs, training opportunities for staff at all levels through its Blue Diamond Resorts University, and involvement in community projects.
It added: “Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also eager to contribute and donate to the health and safety practices on island where possible.”
The Barbadian subsidiary also moved to head off criticism of such large projects for a lack of consultation with neighbourhood interest groups by saying it has already begun talks.
SD Barbados Limited declared: “Blue Diamond’s objectives are guided by a robust business ethic that always keeps communities and the environment top of mind in development planning.
“Therefore, throughout the process of proposing this new property in Holetown, St. James, constant discourse with key members of the community that will be impacted by our presence has been established and is on-going.
“This includes residents of bordering neighbourhoods (namely Jamestown and their homeowners’ association), watersports operators, retail and other business owners and our hotelier counterparts.
“Their feedback has been invaluable as Blue Diamond embarks on this project within their community, and it is in keeping with this transparency with these social partners that Blue Diamond commits to maintaining an open-door policy to improving The Royalton’s position within the community.”
Established in 2002, the Sunwing Travel Group is recognized as the largest vertically integrated travel company in North America. Its headquarters in Toronto oversees operations across five key segments of the travel and tourism industry including tour operations, airline, hotel operations, retail and destination management. Their affiliate brands include Sunwing Airlines, Signature Vacations, Luxe and Nexus Tours.
Within the group’s hotel operations, its exclusive subsidiary is Blue Diamond Hotels & Resorts, a leading hotel management company whose portfolio includes six distinct brands and accommodation categories led by the Royalton Luxury Resorts as its flagship luxury brand.
Through Blue Diamond Hotels & Resorts, the brand has established itself as the fastest-growing resort group in the Caribbean, and as of June 2019, it ran 45 resorts and hotels totalling 15,000 rooms in eight Caribbean islands, Costa Rica and Mexico.