The ribbon cutting at Sandals Royal Bahamian resort. Photos: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
TOURISM’S recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic got a boost yesterday when Sandals Royal Bahamian resort and offshore island reopened after the completion of a $55 million renovation that will create 900 new jobs.
A ceremony that included local dignitaries and the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, was held to mark the reopening of the resort.
“This is a significant day for tourism,” said Tourism Minister Chester Cooper. “It’s a significant day for Bahamian workers, business people, the Cable Beach strip, 900 employed here which adds to the 700 that’s employed at the Emerald Bay. It’s a great day for tourism. We congratulated Sandals today for this initiative. They’ve done magnificent here with this resort and it’s good for the product. We need even more room capacity in The Bahamas so it’s good that this has come back on stream.”
Mr Cooper said the resort is expected to be at full capacity over the next few days and that a “very high” percentage of Bahamians will be employed there. Among the employees will be 250 people who were previously employed at the resort.
“A significant percentage here of Bahamians (will be employed),” Mr Cooper said. “I imagine there will be a small team of expatriate workers here, but, just as the case in Exuma, the large majority will be Bahamian.”
Among the features of the renovated resort are a new Island Village which comprises standalone villas named after remote Bahamian cays. Additionally, an expansive beachfront lounge called Coconut Grove has been added and there are three new wedding spots.
“Sandals Royal Bahamian elevates Nassau’s culinary scene with 13 fresh restaurant concepts,” the resort said in a press statement. “Guests can feel the rhythm of the music and savour Pan-Caribbean spices at Kanoo - short for Junkanoo - where a new ‘brasserie 30’ à la carte lunch menu is designed to deliver the lunch experience in 30 minutes or less, for a faster return to the pool or beach.”
Sandals Royal Bahamian had been closed since March 2020. The date for the resort’s reopening was delayed several times. Initially, it was due to reopen on January 28, 2021, then on March 31, 2021, then on May 1, 2021 and then on November 4, 2021.
Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said the reopening of Sandals signals the country is open for business despite COVID-19.
He said: “Following on from this multi-million dollar renovation, many well-trained Bahamians will make up the full complement of 900 employees. And Sandals Royal Bahamian will go on championing, not only innovation, but the people and tourism product of this country.
“Along with the commercial ties, the presence of the Sandals properties also symbolise the continued flowering of the close and warm relationship that exists between Jamaica and The Bahamas. Long may it continue!”