Corrected: The headline on this report was corrected to say that the O2 Beach Club & Spa is located in Barbados.
Trying to grab headlines while promoting a hotel renovation with a reopening date of Oct. 1 in the midst of a flurry of post-pandemic Caribbean reopenings, stacks up to a bit of a challenge.
Add to the challenge a rebranding of the property under a new name and its repositioning as a new entry in the luxury boutique sector.
Enter Patricia Affonso-Dass, group general manager of Ocean Hotels Group, three properties on the south coast of Barbados. (She's also the former president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.)
The Barbadian, family-owned hotel group entered the hospitality business in 1992. Its portfolio includes the challenge: The soon-to-open, all-inclusive O2 Beach Club & Spa, the former Ocean Two Resort & Residences on Dover Beach in St. Lawrence Gap.
Affonso-Dass said that the group was "confident" that O2 Beach Club and Spa would "take center stage in Barbados' luxury boutique offerings with personalized service, upscale accommodations, world-class dining and the fun, casual vibe of the south coast."
The O2 name, by the way, is a nod to the symbol of oxygen, "an element as natural and as life essential as the act of breathing," she said.
The transformation of the Ocean Two Resort & Residences includes contemporary design, upgraded amenities, luxury accommodations and lots of public spaces in which to relax and lounge. O2 will welcome all ages.
"We want our guests to feel like they've just become VIP members of the coolest beach club in Barbados," Affonso-Dass said.
"We're marketing O2 to empty nesters, our customer base of guests from the U.K. and North America and young professionals and families who want to experience the active, fun vibe of the south coast," she said. "There's lots of energy here, and we're putting our own spin on the vacation experience with curated activities like hiking, catamaran sailing and windsurfing lessons."
O2 will have 130 rooms and suites, including swim-up rooms and a new nine-story, 42-suite tower topped by a rooftop pool and fine dining restaurant; three pools (two are adult-only); six dining options; seven bars (two are swim-up); Acqua Spa; fitness center with rooftop yoga classes; a teen lounge; and daily classes with topics such as preparing local recipes, playing the steel pan drum and learning the fine art of playing dominoes like a local.
Accommodations fall into three Collections: Club features 18 large oceanview or oceanfront hotel rooms with balconies; Concierge offers 70 one- and two-bedroom suites with kitchens and add-ons such as personalized grocery service and complimentary spa treatments; and Luxury has adult-only suites that include swim-up rooms with access to the river pool.
"Our reservations books are open, and we're selling for the Festive [holiday] season and winter," said Jacqui McDermott, sales and marketing manager of Ocean Hotels Group.
All-inclusive rates at O2 start at $482 per room, per night, double in a Club room and at $963 per room, per night, double in a Concierge Collection one-bedroom suite.
The Ocean Hotels Group also includes the all-inclusive Sea Breeze Beach House and the all-suite South Beach Hotel near Rockley Beach. The three properties in the hotel group adhere to rigid health and safety Covid protocols, and Affonso-Dass said she hoped to offer on-site testing for guests when they return to or enter the U.S. after their stay.
"Our message for our O2 guests is that they are coming to a great destination and staying at an all-inclusive luxury property with a beach vibe and feel, with lots of attention without pretension, in a fun area of Barbados," she said.
McDermott said that advisors are key to the success of the resorts. "We pay commissions from 12% to 14% plus added incentives such as room upgrades and local welcome packages for their clients," she said.
Ocean Hotels Group has a loyalty rewards program for advisors. Those who register by July 15 are entered in a raffle to win a seven-night stay at O2.