Wed | Oct 23, 2019

Reports of possible Sandals sale resurface

Published:Friday | September 20, 2019 | 12:16 AM
A section of a Sandals resort.
A section of a Sandals resort.

The possible sale of Sandals Resorts International’s chain of hotels is back in the news, but CEO and Deputy Chairman Adam Stewart is playing down the report as nothing new.

The last time such reports surfaced was in 2017.

Stewart did not outrightly dismiss the current story by Bloomberg that the resort company was on the market but noted instead that Sandals was open to opportunities.

“We are always exploring opportunities for growth and development,” he told the Financial Gleaner.

Sandals operates luxury all-inclusive resorts in several Caribbean markets, but most of the reported 24 properties in its portfolio are concentrated in Jamaica. Its brands include Sandals, Beaches, Grand Pineapple, Fowl Cay Resort, and Your Jamaican Villas.

Sandals’ main rivals are seen as Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt, and Four Seasons.In a few years, Marriott – which owns the Ritz-Carlton brand – will become an even bigger rival when it makes its debut in the all-inclusive market.

The American chain has announced that it will be partnering with hotel developers to manage five all-inclusive resorts – one in the Dominican Republic and four in Mexico – that are due on the market between 2022 and 2025.

It otherwise intends to convert existing Marriott properties to the all-inclusive concept, but has not released the details of that plan, the markets targeted, or the timeline for execution.

Sandals and Marriott presently operate as partners. The Jamaican hotel company, which entered the meeting market this year after 37 years in business, chose the AC Hotels by Marriott brand for the property, which opened in Kingston in June.

Sandals Resorts was founded by Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Adam’s father. The first resort in the chain, then called Bay Roc, was acquired in 1981 and rebranded as Sandals Montego Bay.

The Stewarts constantly invest in upgrades to the chain and marketing of the hotel brands. The flagship resort was expanded last year at a cost of US$65 million, and another US$77 million in additions and improvements is soon to be rolled out at resorts in Whitehouse and Negril.

Estimates of Sandals’ revenue have been put at US$2 billion per year. Bloomberg reports that the resort company could fetch as much as US$4.5 billion in a sale.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com