Sandals turns its attention to raising meetings profile

Caribbean leisure giant, Sandals & Beaches, is promoting its hotels to the meetings and incentives market with the appointment of a dedicated UK-based C&I sales manager. Sandals head of marketing Anil Swarup announced the appointment of Donna-Jane Sweeney in a bid to boost business to the islands. "The C&I market is very important for us as all the hotels are group-friendly and feature large function spaces," he said. Sweeney took up the position in September and described her remit as overseeing and encouraging the growth of UK groups and incentives to the Caribbean. She said that Sandals and Beaches’ image as a collection of resorts for honeymooning couples is fine for the leisure market but needs to be adapted if it is to target the high-yielding MICE sector. "While Sandals resorts are predominately for couples, Beaches properties welcome families, individuals and groups," she said. "As well as up-to-date meetings facilities the properties are ideal for groups and incentives." Sandals has 19 properties in the Caribbean with 11 in Jamaica. None of the hotels sustained any structural damage during the recent hurricanes. Swarup said: "We were lucky to just have superficial damage to the properties in Jamaica, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas." The Cayman Islands and Grenada were two of the destinations that were most affected while in Jamaica, the infrastructure has recovered quickly. Because much of the primary tourism product is based around the north coast of the island, it did not take the direct impact. The major business hotels in Jamaica, such as the Ritz-Carlton in Montego Bay and the Half Moon Hotel, are fully operational and Jamaica Tourist Board remains focused on C&I, said director of tourism Paul Pennicook. "We take the UK C&I market seriously and while there may be some slippage for September, I am confident it will bounce back."

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