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Friday,  July 19, 2024 5:17 AM 

Sandals Dunn's River marks grand opening with star-studded event

  • Hotels
  •   05-23-2023  10:18 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Sandals Dunn's River marks grand opening with star-studded event
Aerial view of Sandals Dunn’s River during the resort's grand opening party in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, on May 19, 2023. (Supplied)
Pax Global Media

It’s the place where everything began.

Sandals Resorts International (SRI) unveiled its latest resort, the all-new 260-room Sandals Dunn’s River, with a celebration befitting its legendary lore in Jamaica’s tourism history.

The night brought together leaders in the Caribbean, valued members of the Sandals Resorts family, and Jamaica’s most quintessential performers – including Grammy Award-winning artist Shaggy and The Voice winner Tessanne Chin – to commemorate the next chapter in the new resort’s storied history.

“This is the place where everything began for Sandals Resorts, and from where we stand, it’s a stunning representation of where we’re headed,” stated Adam Stewart, executive chairman of Sandals Resorts. “Sandals Dunn’s River is the continuation of my father’s journey to better. It is a hero's tale about an ambitious boy who began selling fish to local resorts and how he went on to change how people prefer to vacation, making Jamaica and the Caribbean the centerpiece of his efforts. It is an epic story about an incredible person who continues to inspire us to dream bigger, do more, be better. It is the stuff of legends and that is what this evening is all about.”

The Hon. Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica (center); Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International (fifth right); and Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (fourth right), during the Sandals Dunn's River ribbon cutting ceremony on May 19th. Also pictured from left to right: Deryk Meany, General Manager, Sandals Dunn's River; Gebhard Rainer, Chief Executive Officer, Sandals Resorts International; Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance; Mark Golding, Leader of the Opposition; Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism; Karl Samuda, Minister of Labour and Social Security; and Marsha Smith, State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the Member of Parliament. (Supplied)

Luxury tourism in Ocho Rios

On Friday (May 19), Prime Ministers, including Andrew Michael Holness of Jamaica and Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Ministers of Government including Minister of Tourism of Jamaica Edmund Bartlett; and local dignitaries from across the Caribbean region, as well as other distinguished guests, joined together with Stewart, SRI CEO Gebhard Rainer and other members of the Sandals Resorts team for an official invocation of the resort and a ribbon cutting ceremony, toasting to the future of luxury tourism in Ocho Rios.

Prime Minister Holness in his main address recalled his conversation with the late Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart about purchasing the property.

“It is such an impressive thing to see a dream come to reality and if there is one thing you could say about Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, it’s that he was a dreamer. He was also a doer that will bring that dream to fruition, a man who will always get the job done. We are standing here literally living in ‘Butch’ Stewart’s dream,” he said.

“Return of a Legend”

Surrounded by the sounds of flowing water and tropical birds and under a canopy of thatched branches invoking the lush Jamaican rainforest, guests were met with cocktails expertly crafted with local ingredients paired with an array of cuisines from the resort’s restaurants, including concepts entirely new to the Sandals brand.

The evening was a nod to the resort’s earlier days as the Arawak Hotel, built in 1957, and originally designed by visionary architect Morris Lapidus, whose joyful, flamboyant designs defined the epitome of 1950s and 1960s Caribbean chic.

The event themed the “Return of a Legend" featured an experience and vibe artfully recreated for the event.

Floating on authentic bamboo rafts, performers captivated the crowd throughout the evening at the Grand Opening Celebration of Sandals Dunn's River. (Supplied)

The outdoor spaces of the luxury all-inclusive resort were transformed into a retro supper club, complete with lounge music, glittering gold accents, vibrant green palms and SWAG servers – a new take on the ‘cigarette servers’ from decades past.

Melodies from a 40-member choir from the University of the West Indies, the Edna Manley College and the Ashe Company, featured a spanning tribute to Sandals late founder, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, honouring a life well lived, a dream realized, and a legacy that will never be forgotten.

The heartbeat of Jamaica

Like the resort itself, whose design inspiration is pulled from the flowing water of the nearby Dunn’s River Falls, the event infused and celebrated the soul of Jamaica throughout the festivities.

Guests were treated to the sounds of a steel-drum band; ribbon dancers; aerial performances, with costumes matching the vibrancy of the island’s culture, in front of a state-of-the-art video mapping of the Falls; as well as local musicians such as the Jamaican instrumental trio, Touch of Elegance.

The international cast of STOMP performs their inventive stage show to the beat of Jamaica at the Grand Opening Celebration of Sandals Dunn’s River. (Supplied)

Mimicking the pathway of the flowing water from Dunn’s River Falls, entertainers also performed within the pool, floating on original bamboo rafts custom made by Jamaican artisans. An electrifying performance from the renowned cast of STOMP, fresh off their Broadway run, brought the “beat” of Jamaica to the stage with a wordless percussion spectacle.

A star-studded launch

The celebration culminated in awe with a crowd rousing performance from Mr. Boombastic himself, Shaggy.

Capping off the evening, an impressive fireworks display lit up the Ocho Rios sky, and – moved by the momentum – a lunar after-party continued with a beach bash under a new moon, signalling yet another phase in the story of Sandals Dunn’s River.

Singer-songwriter, Shaggy, invigorates the crowd alongside Jamaican Dancehall artist, Teejay, at the opening of Sandals Dunn's River. (Supplied)

“Now, with the future before us, we stand on solid ground, committed as ever to celebrating our Caribbean heritage and delivering to the next generations of Sandals customers the unsurpassed level of innovation, excitement and unparalleled service they have come to expect and that they so well deserve,” Stewart said.

For more info about Sandals Dunn’s River, click here.

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