Expansion at the Fowl Cay private island in the Bahamas is the latest move for Sandals, founder Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart has revealed.
The resort company’s latest project – situated on a 50–acre private island in the Bahamian islands of Exumas – is part of next year‘s expansion and refurbishment programme.
Stewart said the project, part of the Royal Plantation brand, was Sandals’ most upmarket yet. “The 15 new villas – in addition to the exisiting six – will be completed by 2009,” he said.
The family hotel Beaches at Turks and Caicos will see significant expansion, with the addition of Pirate’s Island waterpark, the Caribbean’s largest waterpark set to open on January 27.
Stewart also plans to expand the Grande St Lucian, adding 240 suites including over–water bungalows around a blue lagoon.
He added that the trade is more important now than ever to Sandals. “As we expand, the trade becomes even more vital in terms of communicating what we have to offer,” said Stewart, who bought his first hotel 26 years ago in his native Jamaica.
Stewart is confident that Sandals can withstand the economic downturn. “We had our best year last year. The luxury market will be affected less than other sectors –the problem starts at the bottom and works its way to the top. We have always weathered the storm and come out smelling of roses. The winter after 9/11 we had 80% occupancy.”
More people are opting for all–inclusive breaks to help control their spending, he said. Weddings are also doing well, as couples experience the escalating prices of marrying in the UK.