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Sandals Says $84-$85m Spent On Emerald Bay

By NATARIO McKENZIE Tribune Business Reporter nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net SANDALS has invested between $84-85 million in its Emerald Bay property on Exuma to date, its chairman telling Tribune Business the resort's occupancy levels were in the 70 per cents range. Gordon 'Butch' Stewart said: "It's running in the 70's. We need to get better, but we need additional airlift and we need to get rates up. The process of developing the business there is very well advanced. We are happy there; we love it down there." Mr Stewart, who was present at the official opening of Sandals Royal Bahamian's refurbished Balmoral Tower, formerly the Manor Building, noted that the resort chain took over the 500-acre Emerald Bay property, formerly the Four Seasons, at the height of the recession and had spent close to $85 million developing it so far. "With Emerald Bay we got quite a good deal, but we had a lot of work to do," Mr Stewart said. Hr added that the $20 million in renovations to the former 145-room Manor Building at Sandals Royal Bahamian, now the Balmoral Tower, was one of many projects to be undertaken at the resort chain's properties in the Bahamas. Mr Stewart said: "We have our finger on the pulse. We know what we are doing, and we are investing money confidently. "Doing what we have done here is only one piece of the puzzle. This is only one project in the Bahamas. Right now we have a total of about 45 different projects, some large and some small. It's all so that we maintain standards, quality and confidence in the marketplace." Sandals Royal Bahamian is currently running at full occupancy. Mr Stewart noted that the Bahamas was a high-cost destination that has faredvery well compared to the resort chain's other properties. He said: "The Bahamas is not cheap to do things in. The Bahamas is a high-cost destination, so we need to get our rates up. Your product has to be sufficiently strong and comprehensive, and your promotions have to be effective, in order for you to attract enough people. I think the Bahamas has an incredible future. Our properties here are performing. We have had our problems. For the last few years we have been performing very well."

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