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Legendary Sandals Dunn's River Celebrates Grand Reopening in Jamaica

Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has revealed its latest jewel, the magnificent Sandals Dunn's River, a 260-room paradise that pays homage to Jamaica's rich tourism history. The grand evening that unfolded was a testament to the resort's legendary reputation, as it gathered Caribbean leaders, esteemed members of the Sandals Resorts family, and iconic Jamaican performers such as the Grammy-award winning artist Shaggy and The Voice winner Tessanne Chin. This splendid gathering marked the beginning of a new chapter in the resort's storied past.



Adam Stewart, the executive chairman of Sandals Resorts, eloquently expressed the significance of this momentous occasion, stating, "Here stands the birthplace of Sandals Resorts, a breathtaking embodiment of our future aspirations. Sandals Dunn's River epitomizes my father's unyielding pursuit of excellence. It is the heroic tale of a young boy, brimming with ambition, who began by selling fish to local resorts, and ultimately revolutionized the way people choose to vacation, placing Jamaica and the Caribbean at the heart of his endeavors. This is an epic narrative about an extraordinary individual who continues to inspire us to dream bigger, do more, and become better versions of ourselves. Tonight, we celebrate a legend."


Distinguished guests, including Prime Minister Andrew Michael Holness of Jamaica, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Minister of Tourism of Jamaica Edmund Bartlett, and various esteemed officials from the Caribbean region, joined hands with Stewart, SRI CEO Gebhard Rainer, and the rest of the Sandals Resorts team for an official invocation of the resort. The celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony symbolized a toast to the future of luxury tourism in the enchanting Ocho Rios.



Prime Minister Holness, in his captivating address, fondly recalled his conversations with the late Gordon "Butch" Stewart regarding the acquisition of this extraordinary property. "It is truly awe-inspiring to witness a dream transformed into reality, and if there's one thing that can be said about Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, it's that he was a dreamer," Holness remarked. "Butch was a man of action, turning his dreams into tangible accomplishments. We stand here today, living in the very dream he envisioned."


Set against the backdrop of flowing water and the melodies of tropical birds, the enchanted evening unfolded beneath a canopy of thatched branches, evoking the lush splendor of the Jamaican rainforest. Guests reveled in exquisitely crafted cocktails made from local ingredients and savored a variety of cuisines from the resort's restaurants, which introduced innovative concepts previously unseen in the Sandals brand. The event paid homage to the resort's earlier incarnation as the Arawak Hotel, built in 1957 and originally designed by the visionary architect Morris Lapidus. Lapidus's exuberant and flamboyant designs defined the pinnacle of Caribbean chic in the 1950s and 1960s.



Themed "Return of a Legend," the event artfully recreated a timeless ambiance and vibe. The outdoor spaces of the luxury all-inclusive resort were transformed into a retro supper club, complete with lounge music, glistening gold accents, vibrant green palm trees, and SWAG servers—a modern twist on the cigarette servers of yesteryears. The evening resonated with the resort's history, paying homage to the late founder of Sandals, Gordon "Butch" Stewart, through a touching tribute performed by a 40-member choir from the University of the West Indies, the Edna Manley College, and the Ashe Company. Their melodies honored a life well-lived, a dream realized, and a legacy that will forever be etched in our hearts.


Like the resort itself, which draws inspiration from the cascading waters of the nearby Dunn's River Falls, the celebration pulsated with the soul of Jamaica throughout its festivities. Guests were serenaded by the melodic sounds of a steel-drum band, enchanted by ribbon dancers, and captivated by aerial performances adorned in costumes that mirrored the vibrant spirit of the island's culture. A state-of-the-art video mapping of the Falls provided a breathtaking backdrop for these awe-inspiring acts. Local musicians, including the Jamaican instrumental trio Touch of Elegance, added their melodious contributions to the symphony of the night.


Emulating the meandering course of water from Dunn's River Falls, performers even took to the pool, gracefully floating on bamboo rafts custom-made by Jamaican artisans. The renowned cast of STOMP, fresh from their triumphant Broadway run, electrified the stage, infusing the evening with the infectious beat of Jamaica.



The celebration reached its crescendo with a captivating performance by the ever-iconic Mr. Boombastic himself, Shaggy. As the night sky over Ocho Rios erupted in a brilliant display of fireworks, guests were spellbound by the sheer magnificence of the moment. The lunar after-party continued, as a new moon cast its soft glow upon the beach, signaling yet another phase in the remarkable story of Sandals Dunn's River.


"Now, as we gaze into the future, we stand firm on solid ground, unwavering in our commitment to celebrating our Caribbean heritage," Adam Stewart declared, bringing the evening to a close. "We will continue to offer the next generation of Sandals guests the unparalleled levels of innovation, excitement, and unrivaled service they have come to expect and, above all, deserve. This is our promise."

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