The Caribbean will “come back with vengeance” from the Covid crisis, says Sandals’ deputy chairman, as the all-inclusive resort group sets its sights on further expansion.
Sandals announced plans to open a new resort in Curacao on Thursday (11 December) – the company’s first foray into the Dutch Caribbean.
Adam Stewart, deputy chairman of Sandals Resorts International, told TTG that the Curacao property was due to open after refurbishment in November 2021 in time for the winter 2022 season.
Stewart also hinted there would be news of further expansion for Sandals in early 2021 which he said would “send a signal that the future of Caribbean tourism is going to be very strong”.
Sandals is also set to open a new Beaches property in St Vincent and the Grenadines by taking over the former Buccament Bay Spa and Resort. A date for the opening has yet to be announced.
Stewart praised the Caribbean tourism industry for the way it had introduced Covid-19 protocols to allow the safe resumption of travel to the world’s most tourism dependent region. Sandals has introduced its own Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness initiative.
“The demand is absolutely there – there’s pent-up demand, people want to travel,” he said. “The five-day quarantine is a great win and customers are signalling they would be opting in.
“We feel the worst is behind us and we know so much more about how to safely travel. It’s going to come back with a vengeance.”
Stewart said occupancies at its resorts over Christmas would be “in excess of 80%” with guests paying non-discounted rates.
He predicted that 2021 would be a “pretty good year”, although they were unlikely to get back to 2019 levels until 2022.
Stewart also stressed the importance of travel agents who he called the “back bone of the company”.
He said he hoped there could eventually be direct flights to Curacao from the UK, although there was already “strong connectivity” by flying to the island with KLM through Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.