Adam Stewart, deputy chairman of Sandals Resorts International, left, and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves the signing ceremony in July. (iWN photo)

Sandals, one of the biggest names in the hotel business in the Caribbean, on Wednesday, signed a deal with the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the acquisition of Buccament Bay Resort, which has been closed since December 2016 after months of financial problems.

Adam Stewart, deputy Chairman of Sandals Resort International, a Jamaican operator of all-inclusive resorts, and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves signed the contract at the resort, located on the south-western coast of St. Vincent.

Stewart said that the new entity will be operated under Sandals’ “Beaches Resort” brand, which caters to families, and will have between 330-and 350 suites ranging from one to five bedrooms.

It is expected that Vincentians will make up 700 of the 1,000 persons that would be employed to work at the resort.

“Your island is beyond extraordinary. Our relationship with the team members that already work in our company, from your beautiful country is nothing short of world-class,” Stewart said.

“We, as a company, feel and commit that we are going to be your best partner in tourism. We cannot help you in certain other industries but in hospitality we’re going to bring something to this destination that’s going to uplift, not Buccament Bay, not only Sandals Resorts International, specifically Beaches, but we expect every tide in tourism to rise with us as we play our part to bring accelerated airlift, training and development — non-bonded — for any and everyone who walks through the future of what we’re going to build here,” Stewart said.

He said that while SVG is Sandals’ eighth Caribbean nation, the Buccament Bay property “will accelerate the love affair that we have had not just with the Caribbean, but specifically the Eastern Caribbean.

“We’re going to build a product that is going to be designed for the multi-generational family experience. Family is timeless, it is infinite,” Stewart said.

He noted the insecurity associated with the coronavirus pandemic, adding, “but never before in time has anything lasted forever.

“We are looking at this investment, and this partnership with your government and your country through a future lens, a lens that is bright, a lens that says that the curiosity of travel — travel is about energy, it’s about how it makes you feel, it’s about the richness of the culture of this country and about the Caribbean. It’s about how we make one another feel welcome.

“My company right now believes that the safest thing that we can do for the existing 14,000 team members of Sandals Resorts International is to look to the future and to create a better tomorrow than the momentary pause that we’re going through of insecurity today….

“I commit today to move swiftly to bring our team back down here as soon as we are able to spend the kind of time we need to imagine to create what we call a sandalisation process,” Stewart, who flew in from Jamaica Wednesday morning, told the ceremony before leaving Buccament Bay via power boat to board a flight.

“What we are going to do here is going to look a lot different than what you’re seeing today. It will be transformative; it will be inclusive. We will work with manufacturing, the taxi drivers, the entertainment industry, agriculture, the hardware stores, retail, and just about every sector within this country through a linkages programme, and ensuring that we play our rightful part,” Stewart said.

The former Buccament Bay Resort has been closed since December 2016. It is seen her on Wednesday. (iWN photo)

He said that the signing and other plans related to the resort were delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But I want you all to put on your seat belts. You may have a minute or two to put them on, but put them on, get ready, because the next new hottest destination, not just in the Caribbean, but this side of the hemisphere is going to be the beautiful, amazing islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Stewart said.

He said that Sandals has 14,000 team members and with the Beaches Resort in Buccament Bay, a further 1,000 will be added.

The company will be doing “something mind blowing” at the site, he said.

Stewart noted the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global travel and the hospitality industry.

“We are living in a time that is like nothing any of us, any of our generations have ever seen before: a complex time, a time of uncertainty, a time where we may, in fact, start to lose hope.”

He said that the deal between his company and SVG has been four years in the making, but for his father, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, founder and chairman of Sandals, and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, it was “a flirtation that has gone on, I would dare say, well beyond the decade”.

Stewart said that four years ago, he received a letter from then Minister of Economic Planning Camillo Gonsalves — who is now also minister of finance — inviting him to come to SVG to “have a look”.

“’Have a look? What you mean?’” Stewart said, recounting the conversation.

The finance minister, who is the prime minister’s son, told Stewart, “Well, you never really know. Come drink a beer with me and make we explore the options for the future.”

The masterplan for the Beaches Resort that Sandals will operate at the former Buccament Bay Resort property. (iWN photo)

Stewart continued:

“Today, as I got on the plane, and as I thought about how frictionless this process has been — and we have done this a few times in the Caribbean, but honourable Prime Minister, it would be remiss of me not to highlight the professionalism, the way in which the government has approached dealing with our great company, how seamless, but hardworking.”

Stewart said that in January 2020, he and his father and Camillo and Ralph met in Miami “and put this deal more or less together”.

However, shortly after, there was the closure of the global aviation industry, and by extension, the borders of hospitality globally, Stewart said.

“I started to have doubt myself that this day would ever be,” he said.

Stewart said that he is among the many people who took for granted the freedom of travel.

“We grew up in a generation with the airline industry being over 70 years old. We never thought twice about not having the opportunity to just book a ticket and travel.

“Right now, I’m on borrowed time to make sure I don’t get put in quarantine back when I get home in Jamaica. That lack of privilege has brought into focus just how much and how important hospitality worldwide is to see new things, to experience new cultures.

“And I want to give the assurance today, firstly, to your government, and to your people, that we are going to make sure that the world knows everything that they need to know about St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the beauty of what it is that is your country,” he said.

12 replies on “Sandals signs Buccament resort take-over deals”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    Anyone interested in the “real” truth behind the Resort’s legal ownership, should read the latest report from Brian Glasgow, Buccament Bay Resort’s bankruptcy trustee:

    https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/bb/pdf/2019/10/Harlequin_Property_SVG_Limited_Update_to_Creditors_October_17_2019.pdf

    They should also consider the collapse of the Kelly Glass et al offer to purchase the Resort which fell apart partly or largely because of its many still unresolved legal issues:

    https://www.iwnsvg.com/2020/01/28/buccament-bay-resort-takeover-negotiations-collapse/

    As Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.”

    This ain’t over by a long shot.

  2. This is great news for all Vincentians. This sandals property will help to bring the kind of Airlift the Government is looking for and will attract visitors throughout the year. A lot of Vincentians will benefit when the hotel is opened.

  3. Reverton Bailey says:

    I anticipate great things with this world class brand and an exotic destination….cheers, gentlemen

  4. Calliaquaman says:

    Can a government enter into any contract or sell a private company ? Can a government legally take over a private bussiness that in litigation in court and liquidatio?

    Can a government enter in new contract with a Company without first going to Parliament and give reasons and vote?

    How can a government sign a contract with a Conpany with no start dates when this hotel will be open , is a an election announcement,

    Will our government pay the former workers their money since you took over?

    Is the investors money dead? (English Retirees) if so sad like the Insurance money schemes that just died.

    Dont forget the INS monies too along with the Geo thermal project.
    The black sand project
    The house and scheme project
    The liat saga
    The AIA over run and under run.

    No hotelier is going to invest in this uncertainty time with their own money,
    What did our Government give up for and how will they have to pay for using the name
    SANDALS?.

    Looking!

    My to cents

    1. Good questions are they not court proceedings going on in SVG and England about this property known as buccament Bay
      Doesn’t the unpaid workers have a claim on this property something smells of RED HERRING here what happened to unions
      Representing the workers in SVG or are they in bed with the government like the ones in Bim.

  5. How about the project has been built in a flood plain and lives of workers at Buccament resort were lost?

    Its still a flood lian and will always be a flood plain.

  6. This is indeed a good venture and whilst it’s not a political gimmick per se, I strongly believe and most right thinking vincentians will agree, this could have already been a closed deal maybe a year earlier. However, with elections around the corner, all of the negotiations are now being put into place to be used as a campaigning tool.

    The same thing was done for the Argyle International Airport for 3 consecutive elections, whilst I am genuinely in support of this initiative, the best thing the NDP can do is to endorse this project wholeheartedly and continue with the negotiations once they get into power. To go contrary to this, will certainly be to their detriment once again.

    Reply

  7. Kenville John says:

    Sandals coming to St.Vincent and the Grenadines is great news for the Island. Sandals is a well known luxury hospitality company all around the world. This move will bring great business to the International Airport and to businesses, also work for the people.

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