Sandals Resorts International is the preeminent all-inclusive luxury hotel brand in the Caribbean, if not the globe as they are continually being recognized by consumers and the hotel industry for excellence worldwide. In fact, for the last 20 year’s running, Sandals Resorts has been heralded as the World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company at the prestigious World Travel Awards.
Sandals Resorts International was founded by Jamaican Gordon “Butch” Stewart in 1981 after purchasing and spending $4million to remodel Bay Roc a rundown hotel on a beautiful beach in Montego Bay. Stewart, who is now the Chairman, got his nickname from his father, “Daddy Stew” who thought his young son was a dead ringer for a cartoon bulldog called Butch. He had no prior hotel experience (just a successful track record running an air conditioning company Appliance Traders Limited which he still owns today) but launched his first all-inclusive luxury hotel with the motto: “find out what people want, give it to them and in doing so – exceed their expectations.”
Thus, whereas other all-inclusive resorts at the time only offered limited buffet meals and rooms at a set rate, Stewart created packages that went much further. From the start, Sandals Montego Bay had all-inclusive packages that included gourmet dining at on-property specialist restaurants with white-glove service, premium drinks, gratuities, airport transfer, taxes and all land and water activities. These all-inclusive luxury packages at Sandals Resorts were paired with exceptional customer service by a team of well-trained employees.
It wasn’t all roses in the early years. In fact, Sandals Resorts International lost a lot of money during the first two years but a strong belief in the brand as well as being pioneers beyond the all-inclusive offering, they were able to turn a corner. For example, they were the first Caribbean hotel company to offer satellite television services, whirlpools, swim-up pool bars as well as the first to guarantee that every room had a king-size bed and a hair dryer. More recently, new services have been added including a signature spa concept – Red Lane® Spa, signature luxury suites designed for privacy and ultimate pampering, and signature partnerships with iconic organisations such as Microsoft Xbox® Play Lounge, Sesame Workshop, PADI, Beringer Vineyards and the London-based Guild of Professional English Butlers.
These new and expanding hotel products and services along with exceptional customer service from their now 12,000+ staff focused on surpassing the expectation of their guests (nearly 1 million per year) have helped Sandals Resorts International to become the most successful brand in the all-inclusive category. Also, for Stewart to be known as the “King of All-Inclusive Resorts,” the “Cupid of the Caribbean,” and the “Master of Marketing.” In fact, year-round occupancy for Sandals Resorts International hotel properties is at 85% and approximately 40% of their guests return for additional vacations.
Exact sales/revenue figures are not publicly available for Sandals Resorts International as they are a privately held, but estimates are that they have grown into a multibillion-dollar company. Beyond the hotel and resorts, there are also automobile distributors, a newspaper, a radio station, and a host of further distribution companies incorporating everything from air-conditioning units to generators, and domestic appliances to business solutions. Sandals Resorts International is the largest private employer in the Caribbean.
Today, under the Sandals Resorts International umbrella in seven Caribbean destinations there are 24 properties under five brands including 15 Sandals Resorts (for couples), 3 Beaches Resorts (for families), 2 Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts (for the budget conscious), 1 Fowl Cay Resort (private island escape) and 3 Your Jamaican Villas. Sandals Resorts International properties can be found in Antigua, Barbados, Bahamas, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Jamaica and Turks & Caicos Islands. Below a timeline detailing the expansion of Sandals Resorts International through the years.
1981 – Sandals Montego Bay, the flagship resort in Jamaica opens.
1985 – Sandals opens Carlyle in Montego Bay, now called Sandals Carlyle.
1986 – Sandals Royal Caribbean opens becoming the only resort in Jamaica with its own private island.
1988 – Sandals Negril, Jamaica opens its doors.
1989 – Sandals Ocho Rios also in Jamaica, now Sandals Grande Riviera makes its debut in ‘Butch’ Stewart’s hometown.
Sandals Resorts: Sandals Grande Riviera golf course. Photo: ©Sandals Resorts International.
1991 – The luxury all-inclusive hotel chain welcomes Sandals Grande Antigua – the first destination outside of Jamaica to have a Sandals presence.
1993 – Sandals Regency La Toc debuts, bringing glamour and luxury to Saint Lucia.
1994 – Sandals introduces Sandals Halcyon, providing guests with an intimate hideaway in Castries, Saint Lucia.
1996 – Sandals Royal Bahamian opens in Nassau, Bahamas.
1997 – Sandals introduces its first family resort in Jamaica, as Beaches Negril opens its doors.
1997 – Beaches Turks & Caicos opens in Providenciales, becoming the second family resort.
2001 – Sandals Royal Plantation opens in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The property boasts all-butler, all-oceanfront suites.
2002 – Both Sandals Grande St. Lucian, Saint Lucia and Beaches Ocho Rios, Jamaica open.
2005 – Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa – the first resort development on the unchartered south coast region of Jamaica – opens.
2007 – Fowl Cay Resort a private island escape in the Exumas, Bahamas is added to the portfolio.
2008 – Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts open in Jamaica and Antigua. This new, value-oriented brand offers a quality all-inclusive experience for the budget conscious.
2009 – The Sandals Foundation is launched to support initiatives that uplift and improve the lives of people in the Caribbean.
2010 – Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas opens.
2013 – Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa opens.
2013 – Sandals Barbados is acquired. This resort was extensively renovated and opened to the public in January 2015.
2016 – Grand Pineapple Beach Resort in Antigua is sold and plans are underway for a Beaches Antigua.
Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means Caribbean & Co. will earn an affiliate commission if you make a purchase using these links.