Sandals Emerald Bay
Best known for weddings and romantic getaways, Sandals Resorts is putting out the word that there’s more than honeymoons happening at its 15 properties. (Three other properties, with a forth coming soon, make up Sandals’ family-oriented sister company, Beaches Resorts.) The company has been hosting meetings and incentives for more than two decades, notes Vice President of Group Sales Jim Bullock. “From the very beginning,” he says, “we have focused on the total experience, which is delivered with an all-inclusive package. We are excited about the impact and opportunities we are creating in the meetings and incentives segment. We are proving to be a fresh new alternative for organizations that realize how ideal our destinations are for meetings and incentives.” Incentives still make up much of the resorts’ group business, and at the well-known Sandals brand they’re easy, says Bullock: “Carve out four hours in the day to talk about the previous year and how they achieved success, then have them go off and enjoy themselves.” As for meeting space, it varies from island to island. Among the more meetings-focused properties are Sandals’ two resorts in the Bahamas, each with its own take on Caribbean cool.
If the “Royal” in the Sandals Royal Bahamian name has you thinking of stuffy old aristocrats, gather ’round for one of the nightly sing-alongs in the Piano Bar. Or come out to the Junkanoo party by the pool. Be prepared for any number of jolly encounters at Sandals’ Nassau property, including an impromptu visit from one of the local schools’ marching bands.
At Sandals Royal Bahamian, the accent is on the playful Caribbean side of the resort’s British-Bahamian roots. This is the place for groups who want to kick back and have a laugh with that uniquely British blend of gentility and earthiness. One night you might dine in the formal Baccarat restaurant, named for the fine crystal throughout; the next, you’re sharing a pint and a plate of fish & chips at Cricketer’s Pub. The pub is authentic; Sandals founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart discovered it in England, bought it, had it taken apart and shipped it to Nassau, where it was reassembled and now welcomes all. Royal Bahamian’s accommodations total 404 rooms and suites in 26 categories. They include the Royal Village, a charming collection of villas named after the flowers that surround them. (Groups with a love for flowers may want to take one of the newly added garden tours by the grounds manager.) There’s more than 9,000 sf in the Fred Krasner Conference Center, with room for up to 540 pax banquet-style and 1,000 pax theater-style. “Meetings are a big focus for us,” says Shellie Norton, Royal Bahamian sales manager. Royal Bahamian has the added allure of its offshore island, accessible by a 15-minute ferry ride. Its separate-but-nearby location makes it popular for corporate events, and it has all the tropical treats: two beaches with hammocks and cabanas, water sports, a pool with swim-up bar, a restaurant, a spa with options for waterside treatments, and a Zen garden with fire-pit seating.
located on the serene island of Great Exuma, Sandals Emerald Bay is made—literally—for relaxing. Where Royal Bahamian is jolly and carefree, Emerald Bay goes for tranquility; one end of the property is officially designated as a quiet zone. Not that fun is frowned upon. Emerald Bay has its share of excitement from water sports like snorkeling and sailing, and it has the swim-up bar that’s become almost mandatory. at tropical resorts. But the atmosphere, while casual and relaxed, is even more adult than at many of the other couples-only resorts. The resort offers 245 rooms and suites in 21 categories. All are located on the beach or are a short stroll away, a convenient factor for groups. The resort’s tennis facility has six Har-Tru courts and a sunken stadium court for competition; the par-72 golf course was designed by Greg Norman. Emerald Bay has seven dining choices, from the ultra-casual Barefoot by the Sea to the romantic, reservations-required La Parisienne. More fun-loving groups will enjoy gathering after hours at The Drunken Duck, a classic English spot with a clubby billiards room and traditional pub fare on the menu. Get there early to grab a seat if there’s a football match on (that’s soccer season to the Yanks in the crowd, of course). For meetings, Emerald Bay has 9,000 sf of flexible indoor space and more than 21,000 sf of outdoor space. The 5,500-sf ballroom accommodates up to 289 pax classroom-style and 393 for banquets.
Massage at the water’s edge, Sandals Royal Bahamian