Sandals off-pace at 78% occupancy


Tribune Business Reporter


SANDALS Royal Bahamian is averaging 78 per cent occupany levels, its general manager said yesterday, adding that despite being off 2012’s pace the resort had been able to hold its position due to the remodelled Balmoral Tower.

“We’re really averaging like 78 per cent, the high 70’s overall,” said Patrick Drake. “We have probably seen like a 2 per cent pick-up but nothing dramatic. We are definitely off from previous years.

“The main trend we are seeing is very short stays. Most guests are doing three to four night stays. That’s the common denominator which impacts, because whenever a guest has a short stay his overall spending power is reduced. You really want the people to stay a bit longer and get out and do a lot more tours.”.

Mr Drake added: “The buying public is looking for new and improved, and there is no doubt that because of the Balmoral we have been able to hold the occupancy, so we didn’t lose any traction.

“We have been able to use that as our lead product because people are always looking for something new, and it has caused us to look at other areas to do the necessary refurbishing. It’s a competitive market and people are looking for the next best thing.”

Sandals unveiled its $17.5 million remodeled 145-room Balmoral Tower last year.

Mr Drake said the resort was not overly concerned over the multi-billion dollar Baha Mar resort set to open late next year, telling Tribune Business that the development was something the Bahamas needs.

“It’s all about your niche,” he added. “Everything has a price point and it depends on what you bring to the table. If you’re just going to do a room and board type of thing and a breakfast buffet, every one is in the same pool.

“When we did the Balmoral it proved that people are looking for fresh, different, modern facilities and conveniences. It’s not just the rooms you’re putting in but people are looking for the ‘wow’ effect. People pay if you’re offering a product that is enhanced,” said Mr Drake.

“I think the country needs a Baha Mar, clearly from an employment standpoint. There is high unemployment in the country and you need projects to absorb that. I think the concern has been the skill level. We need to develop skills in some of the higher demand areas for technical skills. I have always maintained it’s about training, development and the technical skills.”


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