Business leaders in Trinidad and Tobago have reacted with excitement to news that Sandals Resorts International, the region’s leading luxury-included resort, is interested in establishing both a Sandals and Beaches resort in Tobago. While Sandals has established its brand in several Caribbean Islands, it has yet to do so in the oil-driven twin-island Republic. However, an invitation from Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has opened the door for that to happen.
Sandals Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Adam Stewart addressed leaders of the country’s business community on Saturday November 12th, during the annual ‘Champions of Business’ Awards Ceremony put on by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce, where he talked about the benefits of Sandals coming to Tobago. “Sandals Resorts has developed a brand recognition that is unprecedented in the Caribbean and unmatched by any other all-inclusive resort company operating anywhere in the world. When destinations partner with our powerful brands – Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, they receive instant and worldwide recognition because the destination plays a significant role in our communication strategy”.
Mr. Stewart sought to assure the business leaders, and by extension the entire country, that Sandals adds value to every community where it exists. “Contrary to the myth – Sandals Resorts does not wall our guests off from the destination. We celebrate the destination. Our group of Caribbean resorts – which host nearly a million customers annually, took over 400,000 guests outside of our resorts on local tours and excursions last year.”
Speaking specifically to what might be achieved in Tobago alone he added, “right here is where Carnival, steel pan, limbo and calypso were born. Carnival will be celebrated every week at our hotel and we’ll be exposing an audience of vacationers hungry for something new. Altogether, the economic footprint of a resort the size we propose for Tobago, when you take into account payroll, taxes, local services and more, would be in the region of US$80 million annually. In the construction phase alone we anticipate to employ between 2500 to 3000 persons. Beyond that there will be some 1800 sustainable jobs for persons employed by the resort itself.”
The issue of airlift and exposure has also been of concern to Tobago Hoteliers and Government officials, with the number of flights to that island falling off significantly in recent years. However, the Sandals CEO says the most famous brand in the luxury-included niche can help with this, in a way all stakeholders of the industry benefit. “Sandals Resorts is a marketing machine. The brand has a strong and consistent presence across all traditional media platforms including print, digital and television. To put our efforts in perspective, consider that in the places where your market resides –the United States, Canada and Europe, a Sandals Resorts ad appears on television every thirty seconds. And, by the way, those planes (that we bring) they deliver guests to other hotels too. Depending on the destination, only 40 to 50% of the traffic was Sandals bound, the remaining seats have supported the local economy, from increasing occupancy at other hotels to allowing faster, more efficient transportation for locals. We’re proud of that. We believe a rising tide lifts all the boats.”
Mr. Stewart’s speech was warmly welcomed, with many Trinidad and Tobago Chamber members saying that they were excited to hear of the opportunities to develop linkages between Sandals and the business community. Chairman of the Tobago arm of the Chamber Demi-John Cruikshank said that the business community in Tobago is very open to what the Sandals brand will be able to offer that island, based on the successful partnerships that have been created in other islands in the Eastern Caribbean such as Grenada, Barbados, Antigua and St. Lucia.