By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Sandals Resorts International, the all-inclusive resort operator, yesterday confirmed it is exploring opportunities to “accelerate its long-term growth and development plans” amid suggestions it may be seeking a buyer.
The company was responding to a May 10 report by Reuters, which said Sandals’ founder, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, had hired Deutsche Bank to explore options that could include selling a majority stake in the Caribbean-based resort chain.
Sandals, in a statement responding to Tribune Business’s inquiries, did not refute the Reuters article.
It said: “Sandals Resorts International is exploring options to accelerate the company’s long-term growth and development plans. This is not new. Meanwhile, it’s business as usual.”
Sandals is a significant resort developer and owner in the Bahamas, employing more than 1,000 persons between its two flagship properties - Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau and Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma. It also owns interests on Fowl Cay, a private island in the Exumas.
Sandals was founded in 1981 by Mr Stewart, and has remained in his family’s control ever since, with his son, Adam, now running the business as chief executive.
Sandals owns 24 owns vacation properties in seven Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, Grenada and Barbados and the Bahamas,
While the resort chain caters primarily to couples, prohibiting children at most of its properties, it also operates a subsidiary, Beaches Resorts, which welcomes singles and families.
The company has 15 Sandals resorts, three Beaches resorts, one Grand Pineapple resort, the Fowl Cay private island and four villas in Jamaica.
Sandals sparked controversy and outrage from union leaders last year, who accused the resort operator of ‘union busting’ following an abrupt closure which saw 600 employees made redundant. The resort reopened in late October following a ‘fast-tracked’ $4 million renovation.