All Inclusive Resort Supplier

An Interview with Unique Vacations Group

Travel Professional NEWS® speaks with Tammy Gonzalez Named Chief Executive Officer, Unique Vacations Group.



With 2017 upon us, what new things can we expect to see this year from you?

  • All New Flagship: Sandals Montego Bay
  • All-New Lobby- the flagship resort will open its doors and welcome guests with a brand new lobby, completed with fresh and groundbreaking designs
  • Beachfront Millionaire One-Bedroom Butler Villa Suite with Outdoor Tranquility Tub – debuted in September 2016- extravagant new Love Nest® Suites with king size bed, expansive balcony, outdoor bistro set, spa-inspired bathroom, walk-in rain shower etc.
  • New Beachfront Bar- recently completed in July 2016- Sandals Montego Bay added a brand new ocean view bar
  • Beachfront Rome & Juliet suites – debuted January 2016 – these extravagant one bedroom butler villa suites are located directly on the beach and feature an extra-large patio or balcony with bistro set, spacious master bedroom, living room, butler service and more
  • Oceanfront Swim-up Butler Suite with Patio Tranquility Soaking Tub – the Almonds building will unveil these newly built suites, with oceanfront views
  • Water’s Edge Honeymoon Walkout Club Level Room w/ Patio Tranquility Soaking Tub- for arrivals beginning Dec. 17, the Almonds building will unveil these oceanfront suites on the ground floor
  • New Property in Saint Lucia


Sandals Resorts International has announced its plan to add a fourth resort,


Sandals LaSource Saint Lucia. Set to begin in 2017, the new resort will be nestled on 19 acres of land next to the existing Sandals Grande Saint Lucian Resort. Sandals LaSource Saint Lucia will boast an exotic infinity-edge sky pool bar offering picturesque views of the island’s beautiful north coast, 350 rooms and suites inclusive of the exotic SkyPool Butler Suites and all-butler signature swim-up Rondoval Suites, a first in the chain. This will bring Sandals’ room count in Saint Lucia to over 800, confirming its place as the largest hotel operator on the island.


  • New Over the Water Villas & Bungalows

After debuting the Caribbean’s first-ever Over-the-Water Villas at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica on December 1, Sandals Resorts announced the development of additional Over-the-Water suites at new locations throughout the region.  Citing unparalleled demand and a drive toward continued innovation, the suites will be unveiled at select Luxury Included resorts throughout 2017 and 2018, including 12 additional Over-the-Water Bungalows at Sandals South Coast (slated to open TBD) and Sandals Royal Caribbean (slated to open in spring 2017) and at nine Over-the-Water Bungalows at Sandals Grande St. Lucian (slated to open in May 2017).


  • Newly Renovated Sandals South Coast 

Sandals Resorts announced the re-launch of its award-winning resort in Jamaica, Sandals South Coast – formerly known as Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa. When complete, this multi-million renovation project will include an expansion of Sandals Resorts’ recently introduced ‘over-the-water’ concept, with the addition of 12 over-the-water bungalows accessible via a heart shaped pier; Sandals’ first dedicated over-the-water bar called Latitudes, where guests can enjoy their cocktails in hammocks suspended above the Caribbean Sea; a floating, ocean-based swim up bar called Bar-Tender where guests can enjoy cocktails right in the ocean; and an over-the-water wedding chapel with breathtaking 360-degree, panoramic water views and a glass floor aisle.


  • Sandals Barbados Renovations

Sandals Resorts International has broken ground on a multi-million dollar expansion of its Dover Beach property in Barbados, marking the commencement of the construction of an additional 222 rooms and suites. Dubbed Sandals Barbados “Phase II”, this expansion when complete in December 2017, will add to the existing 280-room count and firmly place the property as the largest Sandals Resort in the Eastern Caribbean.


  • New LIV+ Programs

Sandals Resorts recently introduced LIV+, a series of exclusive events to enhance guests’ Luxury Included® Vacation experience.  With LIV+, guests will enjoy all of the quality inclusions Sandals is known for, plus indulge in unique limited-edition events and activities centered around six distinct areas of interest: music, culture, sports, culinary, voluntourism, and social interest events.


  • New Restaurant and Bar Concepts

In the last five years, Sandals Resorts has invested heavily in its food and beverage outlets.  The brand recognizes the connection between travel and dining and has introduced new restaurant concepts such as Butch’s Chophouse, a prime steakhouse, Bombay Club, an authentic Indian restaurant and the Rabbit Hole, the Caribbean’s first speakeasy.  Expect new concepts to be introduced this year.


  • New Destination Weddings Offerings

Sandals Resorts is putting the finishing touches on making its popular destination wedding experience even better.  Details will be announced shortly.


  • Beaches Resorts

Beaches Resorts will also announce enhancements to its already rich entertainment programming that includes an exclusive partnership with Sesame Workshop, creators of Sesame Street.


Do you have any new resort openings planned for this year? 


As mentioned above, Sandals Resorts International has broken ground on a multi-million dollar expansion of its Dover Beach property in Barbados, marking the commencement of the construction of an additional 222 rooms and suites. Dubbed Sandals Barbados “Phase II”, this expansion when complete in December 2017, will add to the existing 280-room count and firmly place the property as the largest Sandals Resort in the Eastern Caribbean.


What do you expect to be your most popular destinations in 2017?


We expect our agents to direct their clients to our island destinations and resorts that are the perfect match for them.  Certainly, there is interest in what is new – which is why our new over-the-water villas which debuted at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay in December debuted sold out and why we’re investing heavily in the category.


With Travel Professionals on the rise, will you be offering any new training or incentives for Travel Professionals to focus on your offerings? 


Our relationship with agents is legendary and it’s not on the rise – it’s been a consistent and lasting “love affair” as our chairman has said many times.  Their success is our success and so our tradition of investment and education will continue with programming that is the most comprehensive in the industry.


This year, in addition to technological enhancements on our agent portal, we are putting a refreshed emphasis on what we think is critical to success and that is personal relationships.   Human touch matters and it’s why agents will never be replaced and why we’re encouraging our agents to utilize their most valuable asset when selling our brands: our Business Development Managers (BDMs).


Luxury All Inclusive Resorts have been a big topic as of late, how are you staying competitive in this growing marketplace?


It’s been a decade since Sandals Resorts made the very conscientious decision to distinguish itself within the [all-inclusive] sector, raising the bar and moving toward increasingly high standards of luxury.


We think true luxury is about exceeding expectations, and so we’re thinking about how our guest vacations and why they vacation and we’re anticipating their needs and crafting experiences that yes, offer the most comprehensive inclusions, but that also thoughtfully deliver much, much more.  For example, we are perhaps more cognizant than ever of the idea that many of our guests are getting away to get together – so creating spaces and places for human connection is critical.  This is informing innovation at the company, whether we’re introducing the Caribbean’s first over the water suites for the most intimate connections or restaurants with large tables designed to welcome extended families.


As far as your All Inclusive Resorts, what markets should agents focus on for 2017?


Agents who want to find lasting success should invest with the companies that invest in them, which is why we believe their focus should be on expertise. Our resorts are not cookie-cutter; we rely on agents to be supremely knowledgeable about our brands, our properties and the destinations where we operate.  They are best suited to match the right client with the right experience for them, and why we offer robust agent education that include opportunities to visit and one of the richest rewards programs in the industry.


Are you seeing any new emerging markets for your resorts?


We are seeing an expansion across all luxury leisure markets from multigenerational families to honeymoon travel because there is no single experience that is all-inclusive.    There is only the right experience for the right client.  Demand across all market segments for the concept show no signs of slowing down, particularly among a new aspirational audience who seek experience as the ultimate luxury.


How are you positioning yourselves to address the Millennial marketplace? 


Millennials value customization.  They seek authentic vacation experiences – that are not only immersed in the culture of the destinations they are visiting, but also that reflect their passion points.  We continue to strive to provide guests with a wide variety of options at our resorts, so there is something for everyone and they can personalize their own vacation.  From endless dining options, to the chance to learn something new, like diving, marvelously appointed suites, unique off-property excursions and highly personalized service, Sandals Resorts is helping agents offer their clients more of what is important to them.  That attention to personalization is what Millennials expect from a true luxury experience and we’re very proud of that.


Do you have any advice for Travel Professionals looking to market to the Millennial generation?


Listen, listen, listen.  Millennials often come prepared.  They have done the research and often arrive thinking they know where they want to go and why.  Your goal is to help them realize their dreams, navigate and help negotiate differences in goals of travelling partners and deliver an experience and service that makes you invaluable to the selling proposition.


What three things would you like to share with our Travel Professionals to assist in selling your resorts?


Rely on your Business Development Managers (BDMs) to take advantage of all resources within the organization.  Commit to education and expertise.  It’s been said before, but specialization will distinguish you. And finally, understand your clients’ travel goals.  When you exceed expectations, delivering more than what your clients might have imagined for themselves, you will be a success.


Many Travel Professionals have found their niche in All Inclusive Resorts, what advice can you offer to a Travel Professional looking to break into this niche?


Understand that no two all-inclusive resorts are the same.  The idea that the term describes a single experience is simply not the case. Your expertise is what matters here.


All Inclusive Resorts have come a long way over the years. What do you see as the next advancement in this growing marketplace?


Forward-thinking all-inclusive resorts will become conduits that reach beyond the traditional all-inclusive experience to offer highly customized guest experiences.