The Caribbean’s leading hotel resort chain and premiere tourism brand is not about to bow down to or be cowed by the regional COVID-19 nightmare. Instead, Sandals Resorts International (SRI) plans to ‘continue leading from in front’ – this time by investing in employing more Caribbean nationals across the region.
Over the next four years, SRI will ramp-up its long-established Team Member Exchange Programme (TMEXP) as it seeks to grow its regional team from 15,000 to 20,000.
This announcement by the chain’s new Executive Chairman Adam Stewart, follows his assumption of the SRI’s helm after his legendary dad Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart died unexpectedly in the USA in January.
But while ‘Butch’ Stewart’s passing plunged the company he built into a period of eternal mourning, it did not at all slow the pace of SRI’s advance.
‘Butch’ Stewart was posthumously honoured by the Saint Lucia government with its highest Independence Award, the Saint Lucia Cross on February 22nd to coincide with the island’s 42nd Independence Anniversary and the group also announced new resorts will soon be under way in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as in Curacao.
Adam Stewart’s March 21st announcement therefore follows new 2021 acquisitions, expansion into a ninth Caribbean island destination — and anticipation of a full recovery of the regional tourism sector following the devastating effects of the Corona virus.
Stewart said the company is very optimistic about the future of tourism — and Sandals’ leading role in its full recovery in the region.
He says the company continues to carry out region-wide job recruitment exercises, offering continuous employment to Caribbean nationals and taking advantage of CARICOM’s Free Movement of Skilled Persons Agreement.
According to the Executive Chairman, “SRI remains a true depiction of the spirit of CARICOM.
“While (in the short term) we are focused on getting all our current team members back to work, we are also looking to the future and our mid to long-term goals.’
He adds, “With our announcements for Curacao and St Vincent & the Grenadines, there is no doubt that opportunities exist not only for existing team members from our resorts in the Turks & Caicos, Grenada, Antigua, Jamaica, Barbados, Saint Lucia and The Bahamas, but also new recruits from these new island destinations.
“We are proud of our longstanding tradition of providing cross-border growth and opportunities for regional residents to both learn new skills and share their existing ones.”
A central part of SRI’s future-facing strategy is the TMEXP, which sees the continued movement of Caribbean nationals to take up assignments at company resorts across the region.
It’s an initiative through the Sandals Corporate University (SCU) and allows new recruits to become immersed in the Sandals and Beaches resorts’ culture, while existing employees are seconded to other resorts, providing an opportunity to travel and become exposed to new working environments and cultures, widen their skills and insights, enhance their career development and positively impact their job performance on return to their home resort.
The programme remains a clear indication of SRI’s commitment to regional integration and equally, its investment in its people, which has been met with much success through initiatives such as the Management Trainee Programme (MTP).
The MTP identifies and grooms outstanding young recruits to become managers in the company through hands-on learning and training at resorts across the region.
Each participant’s unique training programme, including length of stay overseas, and learning objectives, is determined through collaboration with the home resort and the SCU.
All participants will submit a reflective report at the end of their training and will also be assigned SCU coaches who will assist them throughout their training journey.
Stewart says, “At the core of our training has always been the process of immersive learning.
“Over the years we have built a strong and distinct Sandals Culture which has made us a leading global brand.
“We want our people to travel to other islands, spend quality time and learn from their colleagues and other nationals.
“Each island is unique and so is each of our resorts.
“This Exchange Programme not only serves to strengthen our regional workforce, but also to provide them with the kind of exposure and cultural sensitivity that positions them to be global citizens.
“We are therefore very excited to ramp-up this programme and kick-start what we know will continue to be the model for regional training, development and employment.”
SRI has four properties in Saint Lucia: Sandals Grande Saint Lucian Resort and Spa at Pigeon Island, Sandals Halcyon at Choc in Castries, Sandals Regency at La Toc and the Sandals Cap Estate Golf Course located in the island’s extreme north.
Meanwhile, Adam Stewart also reaffirmed Sandals’ pledged long-term commitment to continue investing in and growing its relationship with Saint Lucia, when he accepted the posthumous Independence National Award for his father on February 22.