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Turks & Caicos News

Turks & Caicos News – December 2012

Butch Stewart Buys The Veranda Resort In Turks and Caicos Islands

After almost two years of negotiations, Jamaican hotel magnate Gordon “Butch” Stewart has finally bought The Veranda Resort & Residences, a five-star fully-inclusive property located on Grace Bay beach. The multi-million dollar sale to Sandals Resorts International by Faez Limited will become official on December 17th, 2012, officials told The SUN. Mark Durliat, Chief Executive Officer, Grace Bay Resorts, said: “While the sale of this magnificent property was not anticipated so early in its establishment, we feel proud to have been the operators who established it as among the top five-star fully-inclusives in the Caribbean.

“Our team will work hand-in-hand with Sandals Resorts International to provide a wonderful experience for all during the transition, and we remain grateful and indebted to our staff, without whom the success of The Veranda and its rapid growth over the past three years would not have been possible.”

Grace Bay Resorts, the developer and owner of the world-renowned Grace Bay Club, has managed The Veranda for the past three years since its opening in 2010, and will cease direct management and supervision of all operations, effective with the close of the sale.

The Veranda will be transitioned to Sandals Resorts International as an expansion of the award-winning Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa and will honor all previous bookings. Officials said Grace Bay Resorts will work closely with the Sandals Resorts International staff at The Veranda over the next several weeks to ensure a seamless and successful transition during the holiday season.

The Veranda, which is an $80million, five star fully-inclusive 123-room residence-style resort, is located right next to Beaches Resort and Spa, with only a beach access separating the two properties. Sitting on 11 acres and boasting 800 feet of beachfront, The Veranda is made up of one, two, three and four-bedroom cottages and 40 studios and has a total of 168 keys. It is built in the Key West/Caribbean style.

Earlier this year, The SUN broke the story that Stewart and Veranda owner Andre Serruys of Britain, held several meetings about the multi-million sale which would make Stewart the largest single owner of beachfront property in Providenciales and increase his majority percentage of hotel rooms in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Veranda is an $80 million investment, but it was reportedly sold for around $100million.

With the integration of The Veranda into Beaches Resort, the Butch Stewart resort will have a total of 875 keys and over 1,100 bedrooms, mainly suites, making it the largest hotel on the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Beaches Turks & Caicos employs around 1, 400 people and with the acquisition of The Veranda, that figure would go up to about 1,800 employees. It has one of the best beaches in the Caribbean and the third-rated barrier reef for scuba diving in the world. The hotel also boasts the largest water park in the Caribbean and with 16 restaurants, it has more restaurants than any resort in the Caribbean.

When Stewart first established operations in the Turks & Caicos he took over a small hotel of just 150 rooms with limited facilities. At that time, American Airlines was offering one flight a day from Miami. In order to expand, Stewart chartered five airplanes from Continental Airlines to help create additional airlift. These aircraft serviced key sites namely Boston, New York, Newark, Philadelphia and Atlanta and had the effect of putting the Turks& Caicos on the map as a top Caribbean destination.

Earlier this month, Butch Stewart’s Sandals Resorts International bought a four-star hotel that recently closed in the eastern Caribbean nation of Grenada.

Stewart says he will invest $100 million to convert the former La Source property of 100 rooms into a 265-room complex. It will be renamed Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa and it is scheduled to open in early 2013 and become the 14th Sandals resort in the Caribbean.

The resort is located on Pink Gin Beach and is currently closed. It was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and didn’t reopen until February 2008.

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By Hayden Boyce, Editor-in-Chief, Turks & Caicos SUN Newspaper, December 3rd, 2012