In the 18 months since it first opened, a high-end resort on Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, has changed owners, switched its management company, rethought its strategies and now is focused on a new direction in terms of service, amenities and facilities for its guests.
Seven Stars Resort debuted in April 2008, touting its name as having been inspired by the seven stars in the Pleiades constellation.
"We're now focused on a vision of a classy, luxury resort, delivering what our guests expect and meeting and exceeding those expectations," said Eoin O'Sullivan, managing director.
The 120-suite property sits on 22 acres midway along the 12-mile expanse of Grace Bay Beach on the island's northeast coast, where it has its share of competition from the neighboring Pinnacle condominium resort, Grace Bay Club and Regent Palms high-end properties, with Beaches Turks and Caicos a short stroll farther down the sand.
The ownership change took effect in May 2009, when a group of 100 condominium owners at Seven Stars purchased the resort from the original developer. The owners' units are placed in the resort's rental pool when not owner-occupied.
"We're coming out of the starting blocks now," O'Sullivan said. "Seven Stars is a full-service resort with a fitness center and a tennis complex, a large pool that is the centerpiece of the resort, beach cabanas with attendants, our spa, watersports, dining options, Internet in the room, WiFi at the pool and a business center."
Seven Stars' repositioning is focused on "softening our approach to what our guests want and need," O'Sullivan said. "We can customize guest experiences and do a better job in the areas of personal service and fulfillment."
New to Seven Stars is a private dive concierge who will arrange customized dive trips and will teach kids how to dive; an upgraded, complimentary Kids Club opening in December that will feature more activities this winter, especially those that involve the entire family; a new watersports center; and the Deck, a Caribbean-style tiki bar on the beach serving sunset views, sundowner cocktails and island tapas surrounded by a bilevel deck with lounges, daybeds and hammocks.
The Deck also offers function space for weddings and receptions.
The Sand Dollar restaurant serves three meals a day, including kids' meals, while the Terrace, which opened in August, is a dinner-only-by-candlelight restaurant.
Outsized accommodations are another selling point. "Our suites are among the largest on Provo, ranging from 600 square feet to 4,000 square feet each," O'Sullivan said. "Each has a large, private balcony or wraparound terrace; a gourmet kitchen with granite countertops, wine refrigerators and espresso machines; living space; and from one to four bedrooms. The size of the units lends itself to families, which are a very important market for us."
The suites are spread out among three beachfront buildings, and there are no plans at present to expand the room count.
Just as important as families are couples, "and by keeping Seven Stars to its present size, it becomes a personal, personable and intimate resort that appeals to several market segments," O'Sullivan said.
Getting the message out to agents and operators about the new focus and direction of Seven Stars is critical, according to the managing director.
"We want to work together as partners, and we have packages and incentives that demonstrate this commitment to our travel partners," he said.
These include a $500 resort credit on a five-night stay through Dec. 15, a Thanksgiving package with planned activities for the multigenerational market and upgrades to a two-night romance package that include complimentary cocktails and massages.
Winter rack rates from Dec. 16 to April 15 start at $650 per suite, per night, double, with continental breakfast in a gardenview junior suite.
"More than 30% of our business is through agents, 30% is direct and the rest is everything else," O'Sullivan said.
Seven Stars, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts and Summit Hotels & Resorts, pays 15% commission on select bookings.
The staff of 75 employees, which increases to 110 in peak season, is a mix of locals, Nepalese Gurkhas and Sri Lankan personnel. There's an on-site concierge staff as well as an online staff (www.sevenstarsgracebay.com) who can prestock suite refrigerators, arrange for a crib and book a tour before the guests arrive.
"As a small, independent and privately owned resort, we can react quickly to changing economic conditions and adjust to meet the personal requests of guests," O'Sullivan said.
Although bookings were slow this summer, O'Sullivan anticipates a pickup this winter.
"Our holiday business is fairly strong, especially among families. Provo has great airlift from the major U.S. gateways of New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Atlanta and Boston," he said.