Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart told TTG that the new venture, which went live in April this year, has seen business “rocket”. “The booking engine and website that the team here in the UK has put together is incredible,” he said. “The ease of doing business is amazing and it’s helped rocket business.”
As well as sales in June being up by 100% – helped by aggressive flight deals – forward bookings for 2019 are up 160% on the same time last year, with growth not only through Sandals’ own operation but also through other tour operator partners. “After [the Brexit referendum], business was tough but now we are not only holding market share but also surging ahead,” he added.
“The booking engine and website that the team here in the UK has put together is incredible. The ease of doing business is amazing and it’s helped rocket business.”
UK and Europe managing director Karl Thompson reported that agent feedback on Sandals’ new bookable site had also been extremely positive, with 80% of respondents in a survey of 300 agents rating it as “excellent”.
Bookings have also been made by agents who’ve never booked with Sandals previously. Sandals Royal Barbados will be the next resort to launch when it opens alongside Sandals Barbados in December.
Stewart said demand for Sandals Royal Barbados had already been very strong, selling “millions of dollars before we even had any images”. New concepts for the brand will include a rooftop infinity pool with a French restaurant alongside it, and the roll-out of Rolls-Royce airport transfers for guests in top-category suites, which were previously offered only in the Bahamas.
Stewart confirmed that a new resort in Mexico was still “on top of our agenda”, and confirmed that Beaches Barbados was “back on the agenda”, with a total rebuild of the former Almond Beach Resort to begin in September 2018, for a reopening in summer 2020.