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 separate expenses.

"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 Courtyard brand.

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," Acevedo said.

Sandals will have access to Marriott's reservations system and its guest-reward system. Marriott will assist with staff training as needed.

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 said.

"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 guests.

"AC Hotels by Marriott is the right brand to bring this vision to life," he said.

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