As the calendar flips to a new year, Unique Vacations, Inc. (UVI) – an affiliate of the worldwide representative for Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts – inaugurates 2024 as “The Year of More” at an energizing Global Sales Conference designed to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the travel advisor community and reinforce its crucial role within the ecosystem of tourism for the Caribbean at large.
The first of its kind since 2019, the event was held between Sandals Dunn‟s River and Sandals Ochi, and united esteemed Caribbean government officials, Sandals Resorts executives, and over 200 members of Unique Vacations global sales force for a weekend of reflection, strategic alignment and gathering momentum in the direction of selling the coveted Caribbean.
Following an evening of welcome cocktails and dinner at Sandals Dunn‟s River, a future- focused business session unfolded at Sandals Ochi on January 5th with a series of inspiring speeches from notable figures, including The Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism and The Hon. Carlos James, Minister of Tourism for Saint Vincent and The Grenadines. They were joined by UVI and Sandals Resorts International (SRI) executive leadership, including SRI Executive Chairman Adam Stewart, who addressed a captivated audience, reflecting on the brands‟ foundation and its continued commitment to supporting travel advisors while sharing insights and strategic directions for the future.
“We sit here today on 42 years of legacy – 42 years of a clear runway of opportunity to be the company that is the game changer to rewrite the future history books of what Caribbean tourism is going to look like, and that is what Sandals 2.0 reflects and represents,” said Stewart. “We are committed every day to you and your craft – to doing things that are monumentally bigger than Sandals. This is an ecosystem of Caribbean tourism that only triumphs if we function together as one.”
Tourism Ministers Join Forces to Promote the Caribbean
In his address to the sales force, The Hon. Edmund Bartlett expressed his appreciation for a year of record-breaking travel in Jamaica – four million visitor arrivals in a single year (2023) and 10 consecutive quarters of economic growth, reducing the island‟s debt to GDP from 149% to 74% – manifesting “more visitors, more revenue and more love in 2024.”
“What you are doing for Jamaica means additional exposure and opportunities for our destination, which translates in effect to more arrivals and more earnings. It means more business, more jobs and more growth,” said The Hon. Edmund Bartlett, adding that innovation and collaboration will be the driving force of ongoing success in 2024 and beyond. “Our way forward in the tourism industry is to remove this sense of competition that has characterized our process over time, and replace it with a nice new word called co-petition. We must now represent a future of co-peting with each rather than competing with each other.”
In true Caribbean comradeship, The Hon. Carlos James, Minister of Tourism for Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, travelled to Ocho Rios to attend the conference, where much of the buzz and focus was on Sandals Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, opening on March 27th. Bringing forward the unique „soul‟ of his island home and its authentic alignment with Sandals, The Hon. Carlos James reiterated a joint commitment to build out a tourism sector that is „unique and amazing‟ – teasing new direct airlift coming soon – and that leverages space and opportunities for people to discover an authentic Caribbean island that is not commercialized, while finding avenues to support and empower local communities.
“The thought process, engineering ingenuity, care, love, finesse, and attention to detail that went into creating [Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines] is something we all will enjoy,” said The Hon. Carlos James. “Sandals is a perfect match for our island – maintaining the authentic richness of the Caribbean vibe, food, entertainment and cultural heritage. We’re preserving all of that and sharing it with guests.”
More in 2024 – and Beyond
Looking ahead and building off the theme of „more in 2024‟, Stewart highlighted upcoming innovations across the Sandals and Beaches brands, honing in on the design, service, and accommodation innovations across the portfolio, including Sandals Royal Curaçao – home to 10 new Rondoval villas debuting February 1 – and the upcoming Sandals Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, promising an experience immersed in mother nature, “raw and uncut,” with more features, amenities and Sandals Firsts than anywhere else.
A Priceless Partnership
Gary C. Sadler, Executive Vice President of Sales and Industry Relations at UVI, lauded travel advisors for their unwavering loyalty, recognizing the impact of the region‟s most committed sales force.“The biggest part of what we have is our travel advisors, and the most profound thing that Unique Vacations can do on behalf of Sandals Resorts is work hand in hand with these trusted colleagues day after day – because whenever the going gets tough, it is always travel advisors who are there to rescue any hotel brand there is in the world.”
“Everything that we are doing as hoteliers is in the relentless pursuit of finding the best of the best in this part of the world,” said Stewart. “No place on God‟s planet is more interesting, more enticing, more relaxing, more soulful, or more charming than this archipelago. It is our job, together, to connect the dots to get the travellers of the world to choose us – to choose theCaribbean.”
In true Sandals fashion, a dazzling award-show gala brimming with local flair kicked off the night of January 6th, where awards were handed out to valuable sales team members from across global regions. Notable recognitions include Yasmine Davis, who was named BDM of the Year for the United States, and Gail Stephenson, UVI Director of Sales Operations, who was recognized as the Chairman‟s Award Winner of 2023. A private event at the Rio Chico villa capped off the Global Sales Conference 2024 with the event coming to a close on Monday, January 8, 2024.