Work began earlier this summer on nearly $500 million in development that will ultimately bring three Sandals Resorts International properties to the Ocho Rios region of Jamaica.

Scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2022, a total transformation of Sandals Dunn’s River is the project’s first phase. When refurbishment is complete, the oceanfront resort will be home to a total of 260 guestrooms, including 48 SkyPool suites featuring private, infinity-edge plunge pools. The renovated property will also offer travelers 12 Rondoval Suites, 10 restaurants, nine bars and seven pools.

Phase 2 will be an entirely new property built on adjacent land along the oceanfront. The company is calling it Sandals Royal Dunn’s River. This resort will appeal to high-end, wealthy travelers, according to Gary Sadler (executive vice president of Sandals sales and industry relations).

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“Sandals Royal Dunn’s River will be considered Jamaica’s finest hotel — that is our objective,” Sadler said, noting the $230 million project’s second phase is expected to be complete in 2023. It will be similar to what we did in Barbados where Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal Barbados are located. … Common features are shared between the two hotels, but Sandals Royal Dunn’s River and Sandals Dunn’s River are really two separate hotels.”

Sandals has also announced a $250 million renovation at its Beaches Runaway Bay Resort in Ocho Rios. When finished, the overhauled resort will feature 400 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom suites designed with extended families in mind, according to company officials.

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Sadler also mentioned that the company’s new Curacao property is slated to open in 2022, and a reopening date has been set for its flagship property in the Bahamas.

“Sandals Royal Bahamian is closed, but we have a reopening date of Jan. 27,” he said. “And that property is going through a complete transformation.”

Sandals New Resorts Jamaica
Luxury accommodations are a major component of Sandals’ recently announced development projects in Jamaica.

Credit: 2021 Sandals Resorts International

Business in months ahead is looking very good, according to Sadler, who said demand for all Sandals properties in the Caribbean has been strong and appears likely to remain so throughout the rest of this year and into 2022.

“We’re seeing an increase in business over 2019,” Sadler said, crediting much of that success to Sandals’ key partnerships with travel advisors. “[Business is] is focusing primarily at the moment on the U.S. market, as Canada and the U.K. were closed down until recently. … But overall, we’re seeing the consumer confidence coming back.”

Destinations with better access have attracted the most bookings, according to Sadler, who offered a few examples.

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“Antigua, Jamaica and Saint Lucia, those destinations are seeing the best results, where you have good airlift,” he said. As business has been recovering in recent months,

Sandals also saw a preference for consumer bookings.

“All top-end suites go first,” Sadler stated. “Everyone of the Rondovals and the SkyPool suites are the ones that go first. The concierge, butler service, and SkyPool suites are all going first. … And I think, naturally, it has to do with people wanting their own space.”

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The Details

Sandals Resorts International