Americans, who often look to escape cold weather, consistently name Jamaica as one of the places in the world that they would most like to visit, citing the island’s warm sea waters, sunny beaches, and welcoming hospitality. Zane Kirby, the head of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), the largest organization of its kind, believes this means that the latest entry by Sandals Resorts International (SRI) into the Jamaican market with its Sandals Dunn’s River venue represents a good decision.
Importance of US Consumer Preferences
While the US has just four percent of the world’s population, it represents 25 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and consumption. These figures have been unchanged over the past four decades, Kirby said. Having an understanding of consumer preference and behavior is important, he noted, which is why ASTA polls consumers to ensure its travel advisors know of any changes in travel tastes. It is good to know that Jamaica is still among the top ten aspirational places in the world for Americans to visit, he added.
SRI Dunn’s River Opening
Kirby came to Jamaica for the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the symbolic opening of the SRI’s newest resort near Ocho Rios, St. Ann. While acknowledging that Sandals Dunn’s River is an “extraordinary” addition to the brand, Kirby also honored SRI’s late founder, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, for his wise repurchase of the venue. Sandals had previously managed the property, and its acquisition was the last accomplished by Stewart before he died in 2021.
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A Dream Brought To Life
Kirby addressed Adam Stewart, the new Sandals executive chair, saying that he had brought his father’s dream to life. Kirby added that he wished the elder Stewart was there to see the opening in person, but believed he was there in spirit and was proud of the event. Kirby and his wife had arrived a few days before the opening ceremony and saw many of the 1,500 people who were working hard to get Sandals Dunn’s River ready. He noted the enthusiasm he witnessed among the staff, as well as the pride they took in the fact that the resort was again under Jamaican ownership.
Pride In His Father’s Vision
Adam Stewart recognized many of those who had been instrumental in bringing the Dunn’s River project to fruition and stated that SRI, which has properties on 11 islands in the Caribbean region, operated with a team of “18,000 CARICOM nationals,” adding, “We are Caribbean to the bone.” Stewart also spoke of his father’s vision for Sandals some 42 years ago and praised him for having the foresight to buy Sandals Dunn’s River.
Jamaican Officials Attend Opening
Among the Jamaican officials attending the Sandals Dunn’s River opening were Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who said the opening of the 260-room hotel is well timed to take advantage of what is expected to be a strong summer tourism season, and Opposition Leader Mark Golding, who committed himself and a future government to support the expansion of SRI throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Photo – Unsplash
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