Don't fear 'Butch'
Leading Grenadian hotelier tells Bajans Sandals a win-win for island
VETERAN Caribbean hotelier and former recipient of the Caribbean Hotelier of the Year Award, Sir Royston Hopkin, has warned Barbadian colleagues of the consequences of failing to embrace Sandals Resorts.
Speaking to the Daily Nation just hours ahead of attending and speaking at the official opening of the latest property in the Sandals chain, Sandals La Source in Grenada, on April 28, 2014, Sir Royston noted Barbados stood to gain immensely from the entry of the world-famous brand.
Sir Royston owns and operates Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada, a 60-room luxury boutique hotel that commands rates that rival Barbados' best known tourism property internationally, the five-diamond Sandy Lane Hotel.
"Anyone who speaks in a negative way about Sandals coming into their country has to be insecure, because Sandals is the leading Caribbean brand.
"It is the most recognised and biggest individual hotel company owned by an individual, so nobody has more recognition worldwide as a brand than Gordon 'Butch' Stewart — he is the don, he is the leader in the Caribbean and his is the biggest privately owned hotel company in the world.
"Sandals has almost 5,600 rooms — it has as many rooms as the whole of Barbados (tourist industry). Remember Barbados had 8,000 rooms about six years ago and now you are down to 6,000, but Sandals as a brand turns over more money than the whole of Barbados' stay-over tourism, and the reason is that his average daily rate is much more across the board than the entire Barbados hotel plant as it is," Sir Royston said.
Sir Royston's property was devastated by Hurricane Ivan in 2005, but re-emerged a few years later after a US$12- million restoration.
"So anybody who will see Sandals coming to Barbados or Grenada or any of the islands as not... a win-win (is missing something critical). Look at Grenada today, Sandals is here, a lot of hotels are doing much better, you have a lot of airlift into Grenada, you have more visibility into Grenada.
"Then you have Barbados and you have to admit that everybody is complaining that the Government has failed to spend marketing dollars in the last five years to generate tourism. If you have a Sandals in Barbados what will happen is that they will be spending more than the whole marketing budget of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), because it is well known that they (BTA) are not spending any money. It is well known that Grenada has been hurting for dollars.
"It is well known what Sandals has been doing for Grenada in terms of advertising. There has been no time (before) in the history of Grenada when you have had over 300 travel agents here at one time.
"Grenada is the winner, and you know why? Butch Stewart is interested in filling his hotel and it is full. So where are the other people going when he is full? They are going to go to other people who run proper businesses and where hospitality is the word, so people who deliver value will benefit from a Sandals being there."
In similar vein, minister of tourism and Civil Aviation in Grenada, Alexandra Otway-Noel, sang Sandals praises, noting that in the first quarter of 2014 "we have already seen a 6.1 per cent growth in the Canadian market, and a 6.4 per cent growth in our major European markets and we are looking for similar growth out of the United States market this month".
Re-published with the kind permission of the Daily Nation newspaper in Barbados.