The partnership between Sandals Resorts International and
Marriott International to bring the lifestyle AC Hotels by Marriott brand to
the Caribbean involved a yearlong series of discussions between the two parties
leading up to the announcement in January, according to Alejandro Acevedo,
Marriott's vice president of development for the Caribbean and Latin America.
The brand will debut in the Caribbean in winter 2019 when
the 220-room AC Kingston opens on a 5-acre site in Jamaica's capital as the
centerpiece of a mixed-use development, marking the first time that Sandals
will own and operate a hotel and brand that it did not create and that is not
an all-inclusive property.
Marriott will franchise the hotel name to Sandals. The AC
Kingston's rates will include lodging only; meals and beverages will be
"We are always looking for new opportunities, and
Kingston is a good fit for us," Acevedo said.
"Sandals is an iconic brand, one that is always
expanding and innovating. The company is successful in what it has done and
shares many of the same values that Marriott does. This was a mutual approach,
as we both saw the strengths of partnering in an urban hotel like this one in
Kingston under our AC Hotels by Marriott brand."
The conversations involved Sandals chairman and founder
Butch Stewart and CEO and deputy chairman Adam Stewart, along with Acevedo and
other Marriott officials, Acevedo said.
"Sandals recognized that to do a business hotel and not
an all-inclusive hotel, they had to look outside the box for expertise in that
area," he said.
As far back as 2012, Sandals had envisioned Sandals City in
Kingston, a business hotel targeted at the corporate market. The hotel would
have been a departure from Sandals' all-inclusive concept, but it did not
happen at that time.
Marriott's only other Kingston property is a hotel under the
Marriott acquired a stake in Madrid-based AC Hotels in 2010
and introduced the AC by Marriott brand in 2011. The brand now has more than 90
properties worldwide in urban centers.
The hotel will be the centerpiece of a mixed-use center,
along with a BMW showroom, car-rental facilities, parking, a conference venue,
an outpost of Island Routes Caribbean Adventures, restaurants and shops.
The AC hotel will carry no Sandals logo or identification. "This
would confuse guests who know Sandals and expect an all-inclusive resort,"
Sandals will have access to Marriott's reservations system
and its guest-reward system. Marriott will assist with staff training as
From the Marriott side, "we get a great partnership, a
great, new on-strategy hotel in an excellent location, showcase our AC brand in
the region and get paid certain fees as the franchisor in return," Acevedo
"Because of solid partners like Sandals, Marriott is
able to continue our presence in the Caribbean and Latin America."
Sandals executives declined to comment, but in a statement
announcing the deal, Adam Stewart cited renewed energy and productivity in
Kingston coupled with Marriott's emphasis on design and local experiences for
"AC Hotels by Marriott is the right brand to bring this
vision to life," he said.