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Sandals Resorts seems to be in a renovating kind of mood. First Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Ocho Rios got spiffed up and now the company has announced significant enhancements to Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa to be completed by December 2015.
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In early 2013, when Sandals Resorts upgraded their WiFi networks, we were thrilled to hear that you could feasibly check your email by the pool. Not that we would recommend doing that on your vacation but just knowing that you could is always a comfort for the extremely connected like ourselves.
However, we were less than thrilled that WiFi was still an additional fee, usually about $14 a day, or $43 for the week.
But now, both Sandals and Beaches resorts are offering free WiFi to guests during their stay. The WiFi will be available in all room categories in all public areas. (Previously, if you booked a Concierge or Butler level suites, you could get free WiFi.)
Even better, there doesn't appear to be a device restriction so you can connect your phone and your tablet and your laptop and your portable game control. But come on, if you're traveling with all that, and you don't have kids or several members in your party, then maybe you should seek out a digital detox program instead.
[Photo: Sandals Resorts/Facebook]
Your long-awaited Caribbean vacation may be a time for you to do away with your smartphones, tablets and laptops, but if you're like us and need to stay connected, Sandals Resorts International has you covered.
Sandals and its sister resort brand Beaches (for families) has partnered with Ruckus Wireless to drastically improve their WiFi offerings at all their all-inclusive resorts across the Caribbean. From their press release:
The new SRI Smart Wi-Fi infrastructure is being deployed to deliver high-capacity, high-speed Wi-Fi service across thousands of acres of their resort properties in six Caribbean island nations, including Antigua, the Bahamas, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. SRI’s newly upgraded Smart Wi-Fi network will now support more than 6,000 guest rooms, and thousands of concurrent users.
Now here's the techie breakdown: More than 1,200 of the latest Ruckus Smart wireless LAN (WLAN) access points (APs), including the new Ruckus ZoneFlex™ 7055 dual-band WiFi wall switch, Ruckus ZoneFlex 7982 indoor and Ruckus ZoneFlex 7782 outdoor 802.11n 3x3:3 stream APs will be deployed across the Sandals and Beaches brands.
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We pumped up its waterpark and appeal to children in our , but now the family-oriented Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa is continuing its expansion, opening a new Key West Luxury Village on May 22nd, just in time for the summer-vacation set.
The new area will join the already existing Caribbean, French, and Italian villages, and add approximately 150 rooms, suites, and villas along with three additional restaurants. Given the three other themes, one thing that jumps out is that 'Key West' is a pretty specific location.
If Beaches Turks & Caicos keeps this up, it'll be the Caribbean version of Dubailand in no time. They opened the Italian Village in 2009 and the French in 2000. Beaches said families are still its target with Key West's multi-bedroom villas that "can accommodate growing families, multi-generational travel, and trends of friends vacationing together with their family."
Here are a few first-glimpse photos of the new Key West Village.
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There's tons of hotel news flying around and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
Tomorrow morning Westin Hotels is having a 5K run in New York to celebrate the launch of their exclusive New Balance gear lending program. Both Westin, New Balance associates (and now Top Chef-host, Padma Lakshmi) will run to benefit Soles4Souls, an organization that provides shoes to adults and children around the world. A majority of the donations will support Hurricane Sandy victims. The run starts and ends at the new Westin New York Grand Central where there will also be a Soles4Souls donation station the public can drop off gently used or new footwear throughout the day. After the run, Westin and New Balance will donate more than 15,000 pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls. For more info, visit westinnewbalance.com
Sandals Resorts International has purchased Grenada’s all-inclusive LaSource Resort for an undisclosed sum. This is the brand’s first property in the country. The hotel will be renamed Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa, and will add 100 more guest rooms to its current space for a total of 200 private cottages and bungalows. Many of these will be concierge- and butler-level suites, as is common in the Sandals brand, and also the famous octagonal-shaped Rondoval suites. We wonder if Sandals will keep LaSource’s former amenity of one free spa treatment a day. Sure it was only a 25-minute teaser, but it was something. A part of us believes they’ll be cut, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised before.
If you’re a home décor fanatic, and big fan of Martha Stewart, you’d think you’d want to throw yourself hook, line, and sinker into wedding preparations. But based on this new promotion from Sandals Resorts and Martha Stewart, it looks like there are plenty of nesting types whose passion for napkins and placeholders does not extend to destination weddings. (Hey, we don’t blame them. If we were on a tropical island with a rum punch just a snap of our fingers away, we wouldn’t want to be worrying about coordinating bouquets and boutonnieres either.)
The new Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart “experiences” take the concept of an all-inclusive resort and a wedding reception package, and runs with it all the way to the crystal-clear shore. From January 1st, brides and grooms will be able to book one of six Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart themes at 18 different Luxury Included Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts across the Caribbean.
Bad news in the sunny Caribbean. Since we're not booking enough vacations down there, the Sandals Resorts are letting around 650 hotel staff go from their resorts in the Bahamas, Jamaica and St. Lucia.
That figure makes around 7% of the resort's workforce, so things aren't as bad for Sandals as they are at Wyndham where 12% of people will be out of a job. That probably doesn't make it any easier for the housekeeping staff or waiters in the Caribbean who won't have a paycheck next month.
Around 80% of vacationers in the region are American and the (optimistic-sounding) guess is that arrivals in the Bahamas, for example, will fall 8% for the year. Is it going to get worse? We're no economic experts; in the meantime the silver lining is there'll probably be some great deals going to entice more people to the area.
Two existing resorts will be reflagged with the new brand. The 180-room Grand Pineapple Beach Resort on Antigua's northeast coast will become the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua, and the 65-room Negril Gardens in Jamaica will become the Grand Pineapple Beach Negril.
The brand will be open to both families, couples and singles. It will be all-inclusive and cover accommodations, meals, snacks, unlimited drinks, watersports and entertainment. The rates will be about 35 to 55 percent cheaper than the other brands. This is because the resorts will be more straightforward and are simpler and cheaper to operate, according to a Sandals rep.
Sandals already has three other brands in its portfolio including the namesake Sandals, the Beaches and the Royal Plantation Collection.
Here's a complete Sandals breakdown:
· Sandals: Sandals-branded and couples-only resorts are found in Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia and the Bahamas.
· Beaches: Beaches are family-oriented resorts found in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos.
· Royal Plantation Collection: This high-end luxury brand is found on Ochos Rios, Jamaica and Fowl Cay, Bahamas. Both resorts have options for private villas.
If you watched The Office last night, you know that Michael Scott was planning on taking
Carol any girl he could on an all inclusive trip to Sandals Jamaica. While Michael did not specify which resort he bought in to, we are going to guess it was Sandals Montego Bay, where according to the resort website:
A fun loving staff can help make every couple as lazy as the sun and as free as the sea - and the only rule to follow is to do whatever you please. As often as you want.
Wherever the office boss chose to say he can take full advantage of the amenities and scenery at all seven Sandals Jamaica resorts through the "Stay at 1, Play at 7" program.
Domo arigato, Mr. Mike Scoto.