SANDALS Resorts International has announced that it is refunding the portion of their guests' vacation that was disrupted by Hurricane Sandy.
The gesture was made after a number of the all-inclusive chain's resorts suffered damage during the hurricane's passage last week, resulting in the temporary suspension of arrivals to Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios, the delayed reopening of Beaches Ocho Rios, and widespread landscaping damage in The Bahamas, where the hurricane passed as a category two with wind speeds of over 100 mph.
"When one experiences a storm like this, which causes the kind of damage it has, it limits the guest experience and that is totally unacceptable in our eyes," a news release from the hotel group quoted Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, chairman of Sandals Resorts International.
"We pride ourselves on the high level of investment we make in our resorts to ensure that they're the best around. The most luxurious rooms and suites, the greatest restaurants, bars and cafés and stunning pools and much more, all coupled with nature's finest beaches and gardens," added Stewart, who is also chairman of this newspaper.
"Take the case of Sandals Grande Riviera. We have just invested over US$60 million turning it into the envy of the industry. Within 24 hours, our team has had their ability to provide a high level of service severely impacted, and our loyal guests deserve better. We gave them the choice to remain and enjoy what parts of the resort were unaffected or pick up their vacation in Montego Bay or [Sandals] Whitehouse as well as credit nights. Obviously the storm is no one's fault, but this decision, whilst costly, is absolutely the proper thing to do and our guests appreciate it wholeheartedly. There's no way they should be the ones to lose out, and we're not taking anyone's money if they're not getting what they paid for."
Stewart pointed out that people work long and hard to afford to take vacations, therefore, "when they experience any less than the best, it's just not right, regardless of whether it's an act of nature or not".
Added Stewart: "This gesture simply says: 'We want you to experience the best; sadly we can't offer that now, but enjoy your trip anyway and come and visit again — on us'."
The news release quoted a guest from Texas, USA, as saying, "We were staying at Sandals Grande Riviera and still had four days of our week vacation to go when the storm came in. The resort's team was fantastic at preparing everyone and we were amazed at the professionalism displayed during what must be a stressful time for everyone. Afterwards, we were given the option of staying or continuing our vacation in Montego Bay or Whitehouse in addition to receiving the whole section of our trip back in credit nights. We were astonished at such a gesture, I'm not sure of another company in the world who would offer that."
Stewart also said that while he appreciates that hurricanes are part and parcel of life in the Caribbean, he would like to especially thank the guests, team members and travel partners "for their ongoing patience, understanding and dedication during this difficult period, and we look forward to continuing to offer great services and amenities".