ST. JAMES, Barbados -- Sandy Lane resort reopened last spring with
little fanfare -- just the way owners Dermot Desmond and J.P.
McManus wanted it.
"They were cautious in promoting the property to ensure that the
guest experience was well-managed," said Jennifer Urquhart,
marketing manager for the Americas. Now that the 28-year-old resort
is operational, word is beginning to spread.
In April 1998, Sandy Lane embarked on a massive, $450 million
expansion and reconstruction project. "The entire resort was
demolished and rebuilt from the ground up, using the footprint of
the original property," said Urquhart.
In keeping with the owners' wishes, notable architectural
touches from the old Sandy Lane were incorporated into the new
design, such as the stones from the original entryway and 300
mahogany trees surrounding the coral stone buildings.
The room count was reduced from 120 rooms to 112, resulting in
accommodations that are 30% larger than before. Categories include
26 garden (orchid) rooms, six orchid suites, 10 ocean rooms, 60
luxury ocean rooms, five ocean (dolphin) suites, three luxury
dolphin suites and two penthouses. Two dolphin suites are
Sandy Lane's marketing
strategies have shifted to a "new wealth" clientele, which Urquhart
described as "clients in their 50s traveling with children." Unlike
the Sandy Lane of old, children are now welcome at all times of the
"Kids are the clients of the future," said Jean-Luc Naret,
managing director. "We want to make sure they enjoy themselves and
return." "We built a 3,000-square-foot kids clubhouse, away from
the main resort and stocked with amenities that kids will love,"
Kid-friendly touches include hand-held video games to avoid
boredom before dinner, a private e-mail address so they can stay in
touch with friends at home and a daily program with age-specific
Golf options at Sandy Lane also have expanded and a new health
spa was built. In addition to the existing Old Nine course, guests
now can tackle the 18-hole, Tom Fazio-designed Country Club course.
Green Monkey, a second Fazio-designed 18-hole course, will open
Sandy Lane's new 47,000-square-foot spa offers 14 treatment
suites, a relaxation and meditation room and a 2,500-square-foot
fitness facility with exercise studios and personal training
"Therapists are cross-trained and can also do massages or
facials," Urquhart said. Also featured are a hair salon, the Ice
Cave lounge and a yoga studio.
Finishing touches and small details throughout the resort "put
the property over the top in terms of luxury," according to
For example, guest rooms are equipped with motion sensors that
enable private butlers to determine if a room is occupied without
disturbing the guest. Butler services are available 24 hours a
Controls for electrical systems, such as lighting and air
conditioning, are located outside the guest's room, which enables
engineers to fix a problem without disturbing a guest.
Flat-screen TVs with CD/DVD players and high-speed Internet
access with 24-hour technical support are standard features in
every room. By year's end, all rooms also will be equipped with Web
Since reopening, occupancies have hovered around 30%. Although
this figure dropped even lower following the Sept. 11 attacks in
the U.S., "business is now picking up from the U.S. and Canada,"
In the past, the U.S. market accounted for approximately 25% of
total business, with up to 80% coming from agents. Sandy Lane pays
10% commission, and with room rates starting at $800 per night,
that translates to $560 in commissions on a seven-night
Although fam trips have not been scheduled, agents visiting
Barbados can arrange a property tour during afternoon hours. "I
visited the hotel right after it reopened last April and saw right
away that it definitely is a premium resort," said Bill Fischer,
president of New York-based Fischer Travel. "Sandy Lane has a
beautiful beach, a magnificent spa, great golf courses and
everything one could ask for," he said.
Barbara Foughy, senior travel consultant with Waters Travel in
Washington reported that her clients "are very happy with Sandy
Lane." "They were guests at the old Sandy Lane, returned when it
reopened and said they would go back again in a minute," she