Tue | May 21, 2019

Flagship Sandals hotel gets US$60m makeover

Published:Wednesday | December 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
The new Almond River Suites at Sandals Montego Bay.

The flagship property in the Sandals Resorts International chain has been given a US$60-million makeover with added luxury services.

Sandals Montego Bay was the first property acquired by Gordon 'Butch' Stewart nearly four decades ago, in 1981, to kick off the hotel chain that is now a regional brand, present across Jamaica and various Caribbean markets.

The property, which itself is 60 years old, was known as Bay Roc back then.

The upgrade - which Sandals Resorts Deputy Chairman Adam Stewart says has transformed the chain's oldest property into its 'newest' - included the tearing down of basic hotel rooms and transforming them into suites.

The investment, which translates to $7.7 billion in Jamaican currency at current exchange rates, comes as the hotel group is fighting allegations of sexual assault at its resorts. However, Prime Minister Andrew Holness not only stood with the resort group as it unveiled the upgraded hotel last week, but also lauded Sandals for its Jamaican and regional investments and the quality of service to its guests. Sandals disputes the accusations.

The Sandals Montego Bay upgrade involved an additional 45 rooms, 21 of which are spread across a three-storey building. Project director Nicky Feanny said the construction was done 100 per cent by Jamaican teams of tradesmen and builders, including Sign Craft; Boss Furniture in Kingston, which supplied the beds and sofas; and Matahari, a company owned and operated by the Shelton family in Montego Bay, which did the frames, vanities and dressers.

"We believe in supporting local businesses," Feanny said.

Sandals Montego Bay now sports a row of suites tagged as 'Millionaire' that feature swim-up pools, which are a step away from the sea. They were completed in six months and commissioned into service on Friday, December 21.

The hotel also features a new conference centre with the capacity to accommodate 200 persons, new eateries and an overwater bar, and a glass-panelled chapel on the sea. Along with the chapel, one of the more pronounced changes at the property was the switch from buffet lines, that have been a standard feature of the all-inclusive guest experience, to white-glove service at the Oleander Restaurant.

Altogether, the hotel group operates some 193 restaurants across its multi-island chain of resorts.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com