A fleet of buses drove into Sandals Royal Bahamian resort yesterday, bringing the hotel’s first guests since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered hotel properties in March 2020. Sandals Resorts International’s (SRI) Executive Chairman Adam Stewart told Guardian Business the resort’s occupancy will be above 85 percent by this weekend.
Stewart said the 404-room hotel checked in 137 rooms yesterday and is expecting to fill another 150 rooms today.
When many hotels were reopening in late 2020, Sandals decided to undertake extensive renovations across the entire property and its private island, that Stewart said demanded a price tag of $55 million.
The reimagined Sandals Royal Bahamian resort was originally due to reopen in November with a redevelopment cost of $37 million, but Stewart said the vision for the resort kept on growing.
“More of us were seeing it as an opportunity for what Sandals Royal Bahamian could truly be,” said Stewart. “It is what we’re calling version 2.0.”
He added that the project was fraught with the same supply chain issues that have been a global problem due to COVID-19.
“Overall the challenges that we faced were pretty much what every consumer in the word is facing right now with supply chain challenges, but nonetheless the resort opened on time,” said Stewart.
According to him, at the peak of construction the hotel employed 1,000 workers in order to ensure the January 27 opening day was met. By November the hotel hired about 900 full-time Bahamian employees and brought Sandals Corporate University to Nassau to begin their training, Stewart explained.
The hotel, he said, is now staffed by 700 employees who are brand new to Sandals.
“Obviously those who were here before, many of them got other jobs and went all over the world and different places, so this new iteration of the hotel is quintessentially Bahamian,” said Stewart.
The reimagined property called for a change in the names of the iconic room blocks from the Balmoral Tower and Windsor Tower to East Bay and West Bay, respectively. Many other areas of the property were also given authentically Bahamian names in keeping with the new Bahamian theme of the property.
The hotel continued to expand its luxury-included offering by building out several more swim-up, butler suites on the ground floors of both East Bay and West Bay.
The property’s Royal Theater was completely torn down to make way for a beach club that creates a flow of sand and coconut trees, that seems to move from the beach into the heart of the property.
Stewart contended in 2020 that when Royal Bahamian reopens it will be the envy of hotels on New Providence.
He said yesterday that the number of check-ins this weekend proves that the Sandals brand remains strong and that Sandals Royal Bahamian continues to be an attractive property.
“That is a huge testament to our past guests. Those who know us know what the Sandals brand represents,” he said.
“Many customers want to get out there and the islands of The Bahamas continue to just deliver. Sandals Royal Bahamian is going to exceed expectations.”