Why does Sandals Resorts International (SRI) keep winning award after award, year after year, including World’s Best All-Inclusive Company, for over 25 years?
The answer is actually quite simple, if you ask the company’s senior executive leadership: it’s all about serving and satisfying the people. But there is also a bit more to it, because it’s also the result of a Caribbean company harnessing the incredible potential of Caribbean people — and allowing them to shine.
For instance, if the two most-senior team members at Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort and Spa were to have a manufacturers’ tag attached to them, it would read, ‘Made in St. Lucia’ Or ‘Simply Lucian!’ Or ‘Lucian Forever!’
General Manager Filius Laurent, who proudly boasts that he is “a born Lucian” (hailing as he does from Guesneau, South of Castries) has over four decades of worldwide industry experience accumulated in The Bahamas, Hawaii, Jamaica and 17 US states.
Hotel Manager Rohann Louis, who grew up in Gros Islet, sees herself as “Helen’s very own daughter”, has been with Sandals for 16 years, a company that not only allowed her to grow into one of its most senior postings, but supported her in getting her Masters in International Business and Hospitality Management at the same time.
Both ‘born-Saint Lucians’ have benefitted from SRI’s commitment to develop and promote local talent and each is living testament to the resort company’s success in doing so. Indeed they are among a galaxy of Saint Lucian stars who have not only risen to the highest executive levels in Saint Lucia, but who have gone on to hold executive postings at both Sandals’ head office in Jamaica and throughout the region.
With over 97% of its 2,000 strong workforces in Saint Lucia comprising locals, it is this focus on developing Caribbean talent that has allowed Sandals to be recognised as the World’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort, because they know no-one can represent the region better than persons from the region
With four SRI properties (three resorts and an international golf course) Saint Lucia naturally has need for more managers than all other islands except Jamaica, where the chain was born, raised and nurtured to regional and global success after the first Sandals resort was born at Montego Bay by the legendary founding chairman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, in 1980.
Two years after ‘Butch’ quietly transitioned in the US in January 2021, his son Adam is acknowledged as having worn his dad’s sandals — and shoes – very well, whether on the chain’s Caribbean beaches, or at world tourism and travel conference tables.
Adam Stewart successfully nurtured SRI through the COVID challenge that followed his dad’s untimely departure, with management teams encouraged towards higher levels of service, each resort providing the same excellent service, but also in different unique forms.
Saint Lucia is no different and both Halcyon managers speak about SRI with beaming pride of being part of the human chain that’s kept its clock ticking for over four decades.
With women dominating and providing the essential services down-the-line to every visiting couple, the resort’s managers paid ‘Full Respect!’ and offered ‘Respect Due’ to its women staff on March 8, International Women’s Day 2023 — “but not just for one day,” Filius was quick to point out.
With occupancy always between 85% and 98% — and even 100% at times — many loyal guests are returning, some twice per year.
But customer demographics are also changing, with more honeymooners heading the island’s way, with its branded reputation as ‘The Caribbean’s Number One Honeymoon Destination.’
Halcyon has added 25 new up-market units in its new Palm Beach section, now ready to welcome guests as of April 2023.
Rohann says a major attraction for returning guests is “the exclusive, all-inclusive experience of being able to Stay at one and Play at all three” SRI Saint Lucia properties, “and many choose to play most at Halcyon…”
Citing Trip Advisor guest feedbacks about local tours, she says it’s “the combined friendly, daily, homely care that’s a unique Saint Lucian character — and isn’t duplicated…”
Filius agrees, adding: “We prove to guests Sandals is much-more than a household name for the best in visitor luxury and comfort by also showing them where their dollars go when they holiday with us.”
Both heap full praise on the Sandals Foundation for assisting local artisans and most-vulnerable in rural and urban communities, including actively supporting revival of Saint Lucia’s traditional and endangered arts and crafts industry in Choiseul village, alongside an ongoing marine project cleaning-up and building-back coral reefs and mangroves, as well as provision of annual free vision and dental care for the general public – and Sandals team-members.
The two local managers also have special high praise for Halcyon’s ‘Pack For A Cause’ (PFAC) program, sponsored by guests – including regular repeat visitors — which distributed 500 packs to grateful students last year.
Each Sandals resort has adopted a school, Halcyon selecting Balata (in Babonneau), where guests also visit and make private donations directly.
Laurent and Louis have a similar vision and mission for Halcyon: His “to make ours the world’s leading boutique hotel…” and Hers “to also make Halcyon Sandals’ First 10-Star Resort…”
Both are passionate about achieving those twin goals – and having worked together with Sandals for over two decades in different roles, places and spaces, it is crystal clear they also intend to live and breathe achieving them together, at Halcyon, for SRI – and Saint Lucia!