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Wednesday,  May 22, 2024 4:09 AM 

Sandals revs up with Overdrive


Sandals revs up with Overdrive
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

Sandals gave Toronto-area travel agents a glimpse of what the all-inclusive chain looks like in full Overdrive mode last night, providing details on incoming properties in Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago, a new wedding product and updates to resorts across the company’s portfolio.

The company’s Overdrive roadshow pulled into the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel & Conference Centre – quite literally, with a fleet of vehicles lead by a Sandals-branded 18-wheeler – with Sandals’ CEO Adam Stewart and Chairman and Founder Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart welcoming approximately 450 travel agents to learn about what the brand has in store for 2018 and beyond.

According to Adam Stewart, the previous year saw plenty of investment in Sandals both new and existing properties – from room renovations to new dining concepts and more – as the brand continues to innovate.

“We have a desire to outperform our best work,” he said. “We’re not in competition with the other all-inclusives – we’re in competition with ourselves. As you elevate the bar in a new hotel, you need to go into the existing hotels and make them better.”

The role travel agents play in selling Sandals was also highlighted numerous times throughout the evening; in addition to several awards handed out over the course of the night, a selection of agents were called on stage by Stewart to share their Sandals stories with the audience.

“No matter what we do as an organization, we would never be successful without travel agents,” said Gary Sadler, senior vice president of sales of Unique Vacations Inc, who was also recognized during the event for receiving Honour of the Order of Distinction by Andrew Holness, prime minister of Jamaica. “We continue to respect that relationship.”

Gary Sadler and members of Sandals' Canadian sales team

Here’s a rundown of what’s new for Sandals:

Aisle to Isle

According to Sandals’ Director of Romance Marsha-Ann Brown, the company’s new wedding concept is centred around one simple concept: “what does a bride want?” “Information, inspiration and very little perspiration,” she joked, highlighting the stress-free planning aspect of the program, handled by a wedding planning team from beginning to end.

While seven different wedding styles are on offer, Brown said “it’s not about packages,” with couples able to fully customize the details of their big day.

The average Sandals wedding is 40 or more guests, Brown said, and an option for couples to ‘Test Drive’ their wedding (which is fully commissionable by agents) often results in a doubling of the guest count.

Sandals Royal Barbados

Described by Stewart as “our best work yet,” Sandals Royal Barbados will open to guests on Dec. 20.

The property boasts a number of luxury features such as pools on both the beachfront and the sixth floor rooftop, a four-lane bowling alley, barbershop and a 15,000 square foot Red Lane Spa and 6,000 square foot conference centre.

Guests will also have exchange privileges with nearby Sandals Barbados.

Reopenings

Following renovations completed in the wake of this year’s hurricane season in the Caribbean, Beaches Turks and Caicos will reopen to guests on Dec. 14, while Sandals Antigua is eyeing a reopening of Dec. 17.

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