Investment plans chart new course for Sandals and construction industry
Over the last three decades, Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has established itself as one of the Caribbean's leading brands and a pacesetter in luxury-included travel.
Now, as the trailblazing resort chain enters the next frontier, the evolution of its brands remains a top priority, and its ongoing projects are not only keeping the Sandals brand competitive, but are also providing a lucrative boost for local contractors and stimulating development within the construction industry.
To date, SRI has engaged close to 200 local contractors and vendors in pursuit of its vision and in undertaking its various projects.
According to Richard Hamilton, director of projects and engineering for SRI, since July 2014, the company has undertaken and completed 156 infrastructural projects on its properties in Jamaica and there are 142 projects currently in progress.
Hamilton notes that this indicates a 35 per cent increase in the number of projects undertaken by SRI in Jamaica, when compared to the same period for 2013/14.
"This increase will continue over the next few years as we improve our current room stock to continue to lead the sector," he said.
For Anthony Grannum, owner of Coast & Land Aesthetic Development Ltd (CLAD Ltd), which has the contract for the Palms project currently underway at the company's flagship property, Sandals Montego Bay, projects such as these provide an excellent opportunity that will not only allow CLAD Ltd and other companies to showcase their passion, but also to grow and provide needed jobs for the skilled and unskilled labour force it employs.
CLAD Ltd currently has a staff complement of 130 assigned to the Palms block renovation project at Sandals Montego Bay, which is slated for completion in mid-December and will see all 66 guest rooms of this idyllic seaside promontory enhanced to reflect the new Sandals signature look, inclusive of outdoor tranquility tubs on the terrace as well as new bathrooms with in-demand soft furnishings such as ivory flooring, mosaic tiles, backlit mirrors, porcelain vanities and stone elements throughout.
"This group comprises of labourers, carpenters, framers, finishing joinery trades, masons, steel fabricators, plaster men, tilers, painters, roofers, plumbers and electricians," said Grannum. He also noted that his company is in the process of increasing staffing up to 170 members to keep the Palms project on track for an on-time completion.
"SRI will always work with local qualified and experienced contractors and artisans that can allow development and refurbishment projects to be implemented with the highest quality and within challenging time constraints," said Hamilton. He noted that SRI has built strong relationships with its local contractors and continues to work with them to ensure that the highest levels of quality and implementation are achieved.
He, however, pointed out that Jamaica generally struggles with the level of training and on-the-job experience that is available in other countries. This could be an indicator as to why many projects in the industry are still being carried out by overseas-based contractors.
Grannum, whose Jamaica-based company continues to benefit from industry projects, says his team encourages mentorship of trade apprentices to grow new skilled trades for their company's future expansion. But he believes that if top clients like Sandals continue to offer this kind of support, CLAD and other local contractors will not only keep their doors open, but support continued capacity building within the construction industry through exposure to groundbreaking new ideas and the implementation of training workshops for all building trades.