Barbados’ most luxurious hotel continues to face a number of “external challenges”, but officials say they are hopeful of a strong 2018 performance.
Without specifying the challenges facing the five-diamond Sandy Lane property, General Manager Randall Wilkie said the hotel managed to up the ante in one of its key source markets as it continued to increase its revenue.
“Despite the many external challenges we face in this region and global competition, our future for the first quarter of 2018 looks promising,” Wilkie told staff and specially invited guests at the hotel’s annual recognition and award anniversary celebration dinner on Friday night.
“We are already almost US$2 million ahead in revenue. Thanks to our ongoing digital marketing efforts and new sales representative agency in the USA, we have seen positive growth in this important source market,” he said.
The over 650 staff members of the triple A, five-diamond rated hotel also came in for high praises for their efforts in helping the west coast property to maintain high standards as well as high repeat visitor levels.
Wilkie also informed that the hotel was being more innovative in its marketing efforts, while pledging that continued efforts would be made to ensure the hotel remain one of the island’s most revered.
“Our guests continue to rave about the one unique feature Sandy Lane has grown a reputation for, and that is its people,” he said, while pointing to their professionalism and “genuine nature”.
“As we stated in the latter of 2017, we will continue to focus on management development, implement cross training within each department and reassess and execute the action plans generated from our round table sessions,” said Wilkie, who also said the owners of the hotel continued to invest significant sums in maintenance and development of both plant and staff.
During the lavish celebration, more than 70 of the hotel’s staff members were awarded for their long service, ranging from 10 to 30 years and 179 champions and coaches recognized for their excellent attendance. There were also several special awards, mounting up to thousands of dollars in prizes.
During a night filled with applause and dotted with speeches, some talented employees treated the elegantly dressed audience to a variety of entertainment as they celebrated under the theme The Legacy Continues.
In her address Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) Dr Kerry Hall said the island’s recent ranking as the number one destination to visit for more than 70,000 travellers was partly due to Sandy Lane and its employees.
“What Sandy Lane has done for Barbados and the Barbadian people is proof that we can be homegrown and successfully compete on the global stage with the best in the world and win,” said Hall.
“We were just voted as number one in the world for visitor satisfaction in 2017, according to the Destination Satisfaction Index . . . Barbados also ranked highest in the accommodation sector with a score of 8.8 out of 10. Now, I know for sure if Barbados ranked number one in the accommodation sector, that Sandy played a phenomenal role in us winning this award,” she said.
In the index, which measures travellers’ feedback in 20 categories, Barbados had the highest overall score of 8.8 out of 10, of the 144 countries included in the survey.
The former Sandy Lane employee said while the hotel was not a global chain, she was proud that it was still able to stand up against any major hotel brands worldwide, adding that staff played a significant role in ensuring the island was still able to compete effectively against the more than 200 other tourist destinations.
“There is one thing I do know for sure, we could have the finest resort, the finest facilities and amenities and the best beach in the world, but it is the people, the power and quality of the human experience, the genuine human interaction, that will ultimately provide the competitive edge that we are looking for, for this legacy to truly continue . . . did you know the number one reason people come to Barbados is because of our people?” said Hall, as she urged the Sandy Lane staff not to become complacent.
“Barbados’ reputation of being the playground for the rich and famous really started with Sandy Lane, and as I said, this resort has put Barbados on the world stage and Barbados thanks you. Sandy Lane has been extremely influential in raising the bar for the entire accommodation sector in Barbados,” declared Hall.