SANDALS Resorts International (SRI) with 16 luxury properties on seven Caribbean islands and related interests in another four territories through its Beaches brand, has long perfected the art of entertaining couples and families at its Caribbean resorts.
But it’s also taken the region’s hospitality sector to much-higher heights than any other competitor, none of which even nears SRI’s four-decades-old rise from successfully managing to also owning a self-sustaining mega holiday machine that’s simply irresistible to pleasure-seeking couples and families worldwide.
SRI’s perfection of the art of constructing hotels that suit the acquired surroundings and inclusion of over-the-top exclusive treatment with amenities and facilities unavailable elsewhere has also made it a favorite attraction for global tourism events, one of which it’s about to bring to Saint Lucia, where the world’s largest Caribbean tourism brand already owns three resorts and a golf club.
Indeed, Sandals’ three Saint Lucia resorts – Halcyon, La Toc and Saint Lucian Grande – have hosted international meetings and conferences over the brand’s three decades on the island, from the inauguration of the William Jefferson Clinton Ballroom by the US President himself to several Caribbean Community (CARICOM summits) and United Nations (UN) sponsored regional conferences.
The prestigious World Travel Awards (WTA) has revealed that Saint Lucia will host its 2023 in August, to be attended by leading travel industry figureheads from across the region.
The WTA says “the red-carpet reception” – to be held on 26 August will take place at Sandals Grande St. Lucian Resort and Spa and “will form the climax of World Travel Week 2023.
The WTA explains that the annual World Travel Week “celebrates the global travel and tourism sector, featuring a series of events to unite the industry’s thought-leaders and spark debate on key issues.”
The week will also feature a President’s Reception on the eve of the World Travel Awards winners’ ceremony.
Graham Cooke, Founder of the World Travel Awards, says he’s “honoured to unveil Saint Lucia as the host of our Caribbean & Americas Gala Ceremony 2023, in this our landmark 30th anniversary.”
He added, “Saint Lucia is helping to spearhead the recovery of travel and tourism in the Caribbean, and I am delighted this captivating island will form a crucial part of our anniversary tour.”
He also said World Travel Awards “Has maintained its position as the industry leader for the past 30 years, consistently proving its value as the global benchmark for recognising excellence in travel and tourism.”
And Cooke said, “I look forward to joining the most senior travel industry figureheads from across the Caribbean and The Americas for what promises to be a fabulous event, acknowledging those organisations spearheading the growth of the region’s travel and tourism sector.”
Dr. Ernest Hilaire, the island’s Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture & Information, says:
“We are excited to host the prestigious World Travel Awards Caribbean & The Americas Gala Ceremony 2023 and join forces with the global travel and tourism industry to celebrate the 30th anniversary of World Travel Awards.”
“The impact travel and tourism have on our island’s economy,” he underlines, “cannot be overstated.”
Lorine Charles-St Jules, CEO, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, is also exciteed about the Authority’s association with the World Travel Awards brand.
She says: “This will be an incredible boost to our tourism sector as we continue to aim for excellence in the hospitality industry.”
According to the CEO, “We are delighted to welcome leaders from across the world and to immerse them in the hospitality and culture of our stunningly beautiful island.”
Describing the island as “Blessed by nature,” the WTA’s website says, “Saint Lucia is a destination of breathtaking beauty, with volcanic mountains magically rising from the clear blue sea, paradise beaches, lush forests and rich cultural heritage.”
But SRI isn’t only preparing for the big August WTA gala, but also continuing its continuous upgrading of the three resorts, as part of its post-COVID recovery to near-full and sometime over-booked schedules – and especially as more visitors from cold climes choose warmer Caribbean vacations, most of who also first visit Sandals websites for the brand’s guaranteed all-year-round, ever-competitive and unrivaled price specials.
And not only is SRI expanding its Sandals resorts in the Eastern Caribbean (where it already has three in Saint Lucia, two in Barbados) and one each in Antigua & Barbuda and Grenada, but it’s also introducing its Beaches family brand through a resort already under construction at Buccament Bay in Saint Vincent & The Grenadines.
SRI is already training over 400 Vincentian workers for the task of welcoming the first beaches brand in the Windward Islands, where recruitment started soon after the multi-island state’s 2022 volcano eruption.
With SRI now branded in most member-states of the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) except Dominica and Saint Kitts & Nevis, plus properties in The Bahamas, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) and Curacao, the Caribbean’s leading tourism brand also operates its Sandals Academy in Jamaica.
It’s also cooperating with the University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Florida International University (FIU) to establish a top-class hospitality university in memory of SRI Founder, the late Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
SRI’s Executive Chairman Adam Stewart on May 19 opened the ninth Sandals-branded property in Jamaica, the historic Sandals Dunn’s River, a property his father dreamed of buying and welcoming into the family fold, but died just after securing the finances to make happen what everyone else (including Adam) thought impossible when he floated the idea in 2020 – in the middle of the COVID Pandemic.
But ‘Butch’ Stewarts tenacity always preceded all his tested senses of achievable ambition, having established a reputation of purchasing dead or dying properties and giving them new and seemingly eternal and renewable life.
That’s the story behind each of SRI’s Saint Lucia properties, which other international tourism brands failed to successfully brand but the Stewart family foot-printed on Caribbean sands and beaches with Sandals and beaches resorts inviting couples and families to escape to its Caribbean resorts, where ‘All you need is love!’
And its global appreciation for all this Caribbean Love that SRI will not only be again hosting the WTA’s annual gala in the region, but is also sure – as always – to continue its three-decades-long record of winning in the top categories it competes in the WTA’s 30-year history.
And not to be outdone, SRI’s Saint Lucia properties – which have won various WTA award categories up to last year — are also in the running, for the 30th time, in Century 21.