During a weekend of celebrations, Sandals Resorts officially unveiled five new over-the-water villas at Sandals Royal Caribbean, a new concept eight years in the making which makes its debut just down the road from where the all-inclusive chain was born in 1981.
Inspired by his honeymoon trip to Maldives, Sandals CEO Adam Stewart told PAX in an exclusive interview that the new villas were officially opened earlier this month “to amazing fanfare,” with all five booked solid for 18 months before they even opened.
Each of the five villas boasts a unique décor theme – namely Wood, Water, Fire, Earth and Metal – and measure at 2,000 square feet, offering guests luxury amenities including individual butler service with prep kitchen for meals and exclusive marine transportation (which will soon consist of a fleet of electric boats). Glass floors (which can be lit from below at night) lie at the foot of each bed as well as outside near an oversized hammock, while guests can lounge on a spacious outdoor patio complete with an over-water infinity pool.
“We looked at what was out there and brought the best elements to Jamaica and we’ve done it with the best Sandals has to offer,” Stewart told PAX. “Everything is over the top and we feel it’s an amazing reflection of how far we’ve come after 35 years. All tides rise when there’s positive imaging and this has taken Jamaica and the Caribbean and put it at another level from a product point of view.”
Sandals CEO Adam Stewart
According to Stewart, the seeds of the over-water concept were sown nearly eight years ago during a honeymoon trip to Maldives, inspiring a desire to bring a concept long associated with the Pacific to the Caribbean and closer to Canadian and U.S. travellers. During the development and design process, Stewart explained that the local environment played a large role, from sourcing sustainable products and developing building plans in line with governmental standards to ensuring that the villas were strong enough to withstand hurricane winds, in a region of the world prone to violent storms.
“The main obstacles to overcome in the Caribbean were on the development side, getting the government and local agencies to understand that this type of development can be done in harmony with environmental programs,” he said. “As a matter of fact, in many ways it’s less intrusive to the environment, as you’re forced to consider the woods and materials and look at the most state-of-the-art water and sewage treatment. We in the Caribbean are also in a part of the world prone to natural disasters, so we had to engineer them to withstand all levels of wind.”
The five villas are just the beginning. During the recent visit to Sandals Royal Caribbean by PAX, work was steadily progressing on an additional 12 over-water bungalows, offering a smaller footprint than the villas but the same amenities. In addition, six of the bungalows are currently under construction at Sandals Grande St. Lucian, slated to open between mid-February – “a Valentine’s Day present,” Stewart quipped – and March 2017.
And as more and more travellers fall in love with the over-water concept, Stewart said guests can expect to see the suites at more of the company’s properties throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean.
“Now that we’ve established this platform with the government of Jamaica, all the other governments are looking too,” he said. “We’d like to continue and you’ll definitely see more of these villas and bungalows appear at other Sandals resorts across Jamaica to start.”
Full details on the villas are available here.