It is now more than two months since the former Casuarina Beach Resort was re-branded as Sandals Barbados and Government granted the company unprecedented extraordinary concessions, creating probably the single largest unlevel playing field the private sector tourism industry has encountered in its long history.
Timing sometimes can be everything. Following nearly two years of long stay visitor decline, the anticipated revenue generated through the critical two week Christmas and New Year period perhaps has never been so pivotal to the survival of the industry as we enter 2014.
On reflection, it appears to me that there has been a degree of gambling behind the recent decisions made. Few can doubt that the Stewart family has built an enviable hotel empire with all the trappings of success, including a private executive jet with a replacement value of over US$20 million.
Yet it must have been a huge calculated risk to acquire a property that clearly was not up to the standards of other Sandals hotels and so close to Christmas.
Reading carefully through the initial hundred or so TripAdvisor guest reviews the phrase that stands out, almost above all others is ‘in-transition’. Time will tell what collateral damage, whether permanent or temporary has been done to the ‘brand’ and consequentially, the destination. Continue reading