The planned $800 million Sandals Beaches Resort, work on which is slated to begin early next year, will inject approximately $150 million a year into the ailing Barbados economy, according the second-in-command at the Jamaican hotel chain.
Deputy Chairman of Sandals Resorts International (SRI) Adam Stewart told journalists during that the construction phase, which is scheduled to begin in January and last about 30 months, more than 2,000 people should find employment on the Heywood, St Peter project.
Once completed, the luxurious family hotel is expected to hire between 1,400 and 1,500 full-time staff, and that number could increase within three years, he said.
“We would imagine somewhere in the order of US$75 million a year in economic footprint. So [that is] between employment, working with the local taxi drivers [and] entertainers,” Stewart said, adding that the planned project would be the single largest investment for SRI.
The hotel executive also revealed that Sandals officials met with the Mia Mottley-led Barbados Labour Party administration last week Wednesday “about deepening our local consumption into the agriculture sector, manufacturing sector, craft sector and in talking about widening the use of the taxi drivers”.
He said as is the practice in Jamaica, the hotel chain planned to ensure that more than 80 per cent of consumption at the new property comes from local farmers.
Pointing out that Sandals was a major promoter of the country, Stewart said the company’s marketing campaign for Barbados “has taken up somewhere about 25 per cent” of SRI’s global spend.
“We shifted an inordinate amount of money behind Barbados to make sure that markets that may not be coming here as frequently, or may have never even heard of Barbados, particularly in North America, [do come],” Stewart said, adding the hotel chain would use its influence and partnerships to get more visitors to travel to the island.
Sandals currently operates two sister properties in Dover, Christ Church.
Last year, Barbados welcomed a record of over 663,400 visitors, with arrivals from the United States, where Sandals has a major influence, growing by 11.7 per cent over 2016, the best performance for that market in three decades.
However, it remains Barbados’ second-highest producer of business behind the United Kingdom.
“It is kind of in the DNA of what we do to market the destination as much as we market our own brand. So the economic footprint, all things being equal, will be somewhere north of U$75 million a year from the Beaches [property],” Stewart said.
“So quick mathematics – we are looking at somewhere in the order of US$130-plus million a year of economic impact between all of our hotels,” he said.
During a team member engagement function last week at the Sandals Royal property in Dover, Stewart said the new Beaches resort would be “the most sophisticated family resort” constructed in the Caribbean.
He said the development would consist of four villages with different styles and concepts, children facilities that also cater to special needs children, cinemas, 20 restaurants, snack areas for children, a bowling alley and game arcade, and a large water park.
“I want to say that we are unbelievably excited about building this hotel and having the opportunity that can revolutionize the family experience in Barbados. We would not be doing what we are doing here in Barbados if we did not have the confidence in your country and in you our team members,” he told the function.