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'Butch' Stewart in recession-busting mood!

First Grenada, then Barbados, now Antigua getting new resorts

Desmond Allen

Thursday, December 05, 2013    

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GORDON 'Butch' Stewart's Sandals Resorts International (SRI) this week announced it will spend US$125 million in bringing one of its world-renowned Beaches Resorts to Antigua-Barbuda, the fifth in the Caribbean.

SRI, parent company of Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts, on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Antigua for the building of the Beaches Resort in Long Bay near the capital St John's.

The announcement marked a turning up of the tempo in a year of relentless investment by Sandals in the region this year. Beaches Barbados is set to break ground in the middle of next year and the hugely anticipated December 21 launch of Sandals LaSource Grenada will coincide with the start of the 2013-2014 winter tourist season. Earlier this year, SRI opened the US$120-million Key West Village at Beaches Turks and Caicos.

In this investment, Sandals and Stewart have come full circle, Antigua having been the first country to get the Sandals brand outside Jamaica.

Beaches Antigua, a family resort, will be built on the site of the company's existing Grand Pineapple Resort and will boast one- to four-bedroom accommodation and suites, up to 12 restaurants, conferencing facilities and "a wide range of exhilarating and unique features that include a waterpark, cinema, Xbox Play Lounge and BMX track", said SRI Chairman Stewart.

The resort will triple the existing Grand Pineapple workforce to 700, in addition to providing hundreds of construction jobs, a familiar feature of the billions of dollars in investment pumped into the region by Sandals.

"As a country, Antigua is very dear to our hearts because it was the first place we went when we ventured outside of Jamaica in 1991. This particular deal has been a long time coming -- we've been discussing it for over three years -- but it is well worth the wait," Stewart told the signing ceremony. "Antigua is a stunning country and we've enjoyed no end of pleasure operating here. It's often said that there's 365 beaches in Antigua, now there's another!"

Stewart paid tribute to the visionary leaders of the three countries, noting: "The Government of Antigua-Barbuda, much like their counterparts in Grenada and Barbados who have also implemented pro-business policies such as this, should be applauded for demonstrating such vision and boldness.

"For our part, you'll find a Caribbean company over-delivering. "In Grenada, we pledged to increase the hotel's inventory by 80 to 105 rooms and we built 125 of the best suites you'll ever see in your life. We said we'd employ 100 - 325 construction workers and we recruited almost 1,500. We said we'd create 335 hotel jobs, we've recruited 560. We promised to spend US$100 million in the next 10 years. Thanks to the support of the Government, we've spent $80 million in the first year alone.

"We would hope that each of the three new countries we are expanding into will feel the economic benefits of us being there," the Sandals

boss added.

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