Shovels went into the ground this week on a nearly half-billion dollar development that will have Sandals yet again transforming Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
The Jamaica-based, family-owned beach resort company is re-imagining two properties it acquired last year – plus a prime parcel of beachfront land – into three distinct resorts in Ocho Rios: two adults-only Sandals and one family Beaches resort.
The project is an emotional labor of love for the Stewart family.
Many travel advisors who’ve been selling Sandals for a while will remember the original Sandals Dunn’s River. The property has returned to the Sandals family of resorts under the same name as when it was originally added to the Sandals Resorts portfolio in 1990. This week’s shovels-in-the-ground begin the project’s Phase I, which is the complete transformation of Sandals Dunn’s River.
Sandals Resorts Executive Chairman Adam Stewart, son of Sandals’ founder, the late Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, says the new Sandals Dunn’s River was the last project he and his father collaborated on before his passing.
“We stand today nearby where my father grew up, a place that was close to his heart,” Adam Stewart said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “We are proud to bring to life his vision through this incredible property. There will simply be nothing like it.’
The return and transformation of Sandals Dunn’s River is a legacy project in a number of ways.
‘When this resort became available, my father and I jumped at the chance to reclaim it and bring it back into the fold where it belongs,” said Sandals’ new Executive Chairman.
“Although he cannot be with us to see its ultimate transformation, he always will be a part of everything we do. His fingerprints are on this project and he fully embraced our plans to set a new standard of luxury in Jamaica. All that will come next on our incredible slices of Jamaica beachfronts, will be in tribute to him and because of him. I cannot fully express how sincerely thrilled we are to begin this work here at home,’ said Adam Stewart.
The New Sandals Dunn’s River & Sandals Royal Dunn’s River
The new Sandals Dunn’s River is slated to open in late 2022. Phase II is the creation of adjacent sister-property Sandals Royal Dunn’s River for 2023, which will offer “generous exchange privileges” with the resort next door.
The Sandals Dunn’s River and Sandals Royal Dunn’s River design pay homage to the natural beauty of Jamaica, with water pulled and circulated from natural reserves, and the brand’s signature suites being a prominent feature.
‘Jamaica means land of wood and water and in Ocho Rios, the sound of moving water from Dunn’s River and Roaring Waters River is part of the experience… This is the sound that will greet guests upon arrival,’ Stewart said.
In addition to cascading waterfalls at the entrance, Sandals Dunn’s River will offer a total of 260 rooms including 48 signature SkyPool Suites, a first for Jamaica, which will feature a private cantilevered, solar-heated plunge pool with infinity edge.
12 Swim-up ‘Rondoval’ Suites with many featuring a ‘Rooftop Terrace’ will also grace the property – both signature Love Nest Butler Suites for the ultimate in privacy and service; 10 restaurants including a specialty rum bar inside Sandal’s newest Latin Fusion restaurant concept Azuka and 9 bars; 7 pools including 2 river pools and Red Lane Spa.
The New Beaches Runaway Bay
In addition to the adults-only Sandals Dunn’s River and Sandals Royal Dunn’s River, the resort company is also planning a spectacular renovation of its third new location in Ocho Rios.
Beaches Runaway Bay Resort will be the third family-friendly Beaches Resort in Jamaica. When it’s done, the hotel will feature 400 one, two, three and four-bedroom suites, designed with extended families in mind.
Guests of Beaches Runaway Bay also have access to Runaway Bay Golf Club and its par-72, 18-hole championship golf course.
The three new Ocho Rios resorts add to the growing tally of Sandals Resorts International’s collection of properties throughout the region.
That includes 15 beachfront Sandals in Jamaica, Antigua, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, plus another new property slated to open in Curacao in Spring of 2022.
In addition, Beaches has three family resorts in Turks & Caicos and Jamaica, and a fourth location coming soon to St. Vincent & the Grenadines.