At Sandals, Martha Stewart deal among 2009's good things

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Sandals Chairman and Founder Butch Stewart, along with his son and Sandals CEO Adam Stewart and Unique Vacations President Kevin Froemming, recently shared their 2010 forecasts, offered updates on current and future product lines and affirmed their commitment to branding and partnerships.

The three were aboard the refurbished Lady Sandals yacht while it was moored at Chelsea Piers in New York. The yacht's new decor is contemporary and comfortable. The no-shoes-on-board rule still applies; plush velour slippers are supplied to guests.

The New York visit marked the launch of the four-year partnership with Martha Stewart under the Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart brand.

The partnership replaces Sandals' existing wedding offerings, including the optional Preston Bailey packages. The four-year contract with Bailey ends this year.

Six wedding themes form the heart of the partnership between Sandals Resorts International and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The packages can be booked now for travel after Jan. 1 at any of the 18 Sandals and Beaches resorts in the Caribbean.

"Every resort in the Caribbean can do weddings, and we certainly are not experts in this field," Butch Stewart said. "Martha Stewart is at the forefront of all trends in weddings."

The packages start at $1,500 each. However, the Beautiful Beginnings package is included at no additional cost if couples book a minimum six-night stay in a concierge category room or higher.

Other milestones in Sandals' 2009 playbook:

• The resort purchased the former Four Seasons resort in Exuma in the Bahamas, which will re-emerge as Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma on Jan. 22, following a $14 million upgrade.

• Sandals will enter the corporate market with Sandals City, a hotel to be built on Oxford Road in Kingston, Jamaica. The 250-room property will include 100 condo units and is a departure from Sandals' all-inclusive concept, said Adam Stewart. The property could open in late 2012 or early 2013.

As to the economic outlook, "Flat is the new 'up' in terms of measuring business volume, and 2010 looks much better," Butch Stewart said.

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