Sandals Dunns River Celebrates Grand Opening as the Company Returns to its Roots

Aerial view of Sandals Dunn’s River during the resort's Grand Opening Celebration in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, on May 19th, 2023.

Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has unveiled its latest resort, the 260-room Sandals Dunn’s River, with an event celebrating its place in Jamaica’s tourism history.

The night brought together leaders in the Caribbean, members of the Sandals Resorts family, and Jamaican performers – including Grammy-Award winning artist Shaggy and The Voice winner Tessanne Chin – to commemorate the next chapter in the new resort’s storied history.

“This is the place where everything began for Sandals Resorts, and from where we stand, it’s a stunning representation of where we’re headed,” said Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts.

“Sandals Dunn’s River is the continuation of my father’s journey to better. It is a hero's tale about an ambitious boy who began selling fish to local resorts and how he went on to change how people prefer to vacation, making Jamaica and the Caribbean the centerpiece of his efforts. It is an epic story about an incredible person who continues to inspire us to dream bigger, do more, be better. It is the stuff of legends and that is what this evening is all about,” said Stewart.

The Hon. Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica (center); Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International (fifth right); and Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (fourth right), during the Sandals Dunn's River ribbon cutting ceremony on May 19th. Also pictured from left to right: Deryk Meany, General Manager, Sandals Dunn's River; Gebhard Rainer, Chief Executive Officer, Sandals Resorts International; Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance; Mark Golding, Leader of the Opposition; Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism; Karl Samuda, Minister of Labour and Social Security; and Marsha Smith, State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the Member of Parliament.

On 19MAY, Prime Ministers, including Andrew Michael Holness of Jamaica and Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; government ministers including Minister of Tourism of Jamaica Edmund Bartlett; and local dignitaries from across the Caribbean region, as well as other distinguished guests, joined together with Stewart, SRI CEO Gebhard Rainer and other members of the Sandals Resorts team for an official invocation of the resort and a momentous ribbon cutting ceremony, toasting to the future of luxury tourism in Ocho Rios.

Prime Minister Holness in his main address recalled his conversation with the late Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart about purchasing the property. “It is such an impressive thing to see a dream come to reality and if there is one thing you could say about Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, it’s that he was a dreamer. He was also a doer that will bring that dream to fruition, a man who will always get the job done. We are standing here literally living in ‘Butch’ Stewart’s dream,” he said.

Floating on authentic bamboo rafts, performers captivated the crowd throughout the evening at the Grand Opening Celebration of Sandals Dunn's River.

A Tribute to a Legendary Past, A Celebration of the Future

Guests were met with cocktails with local ingredients paired with dishes from resort’s restaurants, including concepts entirely new to the Sandals brand. The evening was a nod to the resort’s earlier days as the Arawak Hotel, built in 1957, and originally designed by visionary architect Morris Lapidus, whose joyful, flamboyant designs defined the epitome of 1950s and 1960s Caribbean chic.

The event themed the “Return of a Legend." The outdoor spaces of the luxury all-inclusive resort were transformed into a retro supper club, complete with lounge music, glittering gold accents, vibrant green palms and SWAG servers – a new take on the ‘cigarette servers’ from decades past. Melodies from a 40-member choir from the University of the West Indies, the Edna Manley College and the Ashe Company, featured a spanning tribute to Sandals late founder, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, honoring a life well lived, a dream realized, and a legacy that continues today.

Echoing the Heartbeat of Jamaica

Like the resort itself, whose design inspiration is pulled from the flowing water of the nearby Dunn’s River Falls, the event infused and celebrated the soul of Jamaica throughout the festivities. Guests were treated to the sounds of a steel-drum band; ribbon dancers; aerial performances, with costumes matching the vibrancy of the island’s culture, in front of a state-of-the-art video mapping of the Falls; as well as local musicians such as the Jamaican instrumental trio, Touch of Elegance.

Mimicking the pathway of the flowing water from Dunn’s River Falls, entertainers also performed within the pool, floating on original bamboo rafts custom made by Jamaican artisans. An electrifying performance from the renowned cast of STOMP, fresh off their Broadway run, brought the ‘beat’ of Jamaica to the stage with a wordless percussion spectacle.

The international cast of STOMP performs to the beat of Jamaica at the Grand Opening Celebration of Sandals Dunn’s River.

A Star-Studded Beginning

The celebration culminated in awe with a crowd rousing performance from Shaggy. Capping off the evening, an impressive fireworks display lit up the Ocho Rios sky, and – moved by the momentum – a lunar after-party continued with a beach bash under a new moon, signaling yet another phase in the story of Sandals Dunn’s River.

Jamaican singer-songwriter, Shaggy, invigorates the crowd alongside Jamaican Dancehall artist, Teejay, at the Grand Opening Celebration of Sandals Dunn's River.

“Now, with the future before us, we stand on solid ground, committed as ever to celebrating our Caribbean heritage and delivering to the next generations of Sandals customers the unsurpassed level of innovation, excitement and unparalleled service they have come to expect and that they so well deserve,” Stewart concluded.

More information about Sandals Dunn’s River is available at

Lynn Elmhirst


With a background in broadcast news and travel lifestyles TV production, Lynn is just as comfortable behind or in front of the camera as she is slinging words into compelling stories at her laptop. Having been called a multi-media ‘content charmer’, Lynn’s other claim to fame is the ability to work 24/7, forgoing sleep until the job is done. Documented proof exists in a picture of Lynn at the closing celebrations of an intense week, standing, champagne in hand - sound asleep. That’s our kind of gal.

You may also like
Israel Ministry of Tourism Launches New Campaign to Inspire Travel this Winter
Israel’s Ministry of Tourism has launched a new digital advertising campaign, ‘Anywhere’, aiming to inspire Canadians to travel to the destination ...
Dominican Republic's DR Tourism Roadshow in Canada
At recent events in YYZ and YUL, the Dominican Republic also introduced the DO Travel Rewards program, a loyalty initiative for ...
Atlas Ocean Voyages Announces New 2024/2025 Polar Expeditions To Antarctica
Atlas Ocean Voyages announced new "Polar Expeditions by Atlas" to Antarctica, setting sail from NOV 2024 to MAR 2025. Bookings have now commenced.
Carnival Freedom
Carnival Opens Bookings on Itineraries Featuring Celebration Key
Carnival Cruise Line opens sales today for nearly 400 cruises on 12 ships sailing from eight homeports to its new private ...
Oceania Cruises' Regatta
Oceania Cruises Releases Summer 2025 Collection
Oceania Cruises revealed its 2025 Summer Collection of voyages, featuring a lineup of more than 100 itineraries, plus nearly 50 Grand ...

Talk Back! Post a comment: