Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
AFTER JUST five months in Jamaica, Blue Diamond Resorts, a subsidiary of Canada-based Sunwing Travel Group, is seeking to expand its presence in the Jamaican tourism market.
Blue Diamond bought the 350-room Starfish Trelawny hotel in June and is to spend US$40 million on refurbishing the property to open it as Memories White Sands, in time for the upcoming winter tourist season.
Now the company, which has also extended its management lease on the 226-room Braco hotel, has announced the construction of a 500-room five-star hotel next door to Starfish Trelawny.
The land has already been bought and construction is expected to begin next summer and might last for 18 months. The new property will be marketed under Sunwing's five-star brand, Royalton Luxury Resort.
Here to stay
The company is also seeking to expand to Negril, while at the same time hoping that owners of the Braco property, National Investment Fund, will be willing to sell that property to them.
According to Enrico Pezzoli, general manager of Braco Village Hotel and Spa, Blue Diamond Resorts is in Jamaica to stay.
"Blue Diamond wants to have a stronger presence here in Jamaica," Pezzoli told The Gleaner. "So it's this hotel here (Braco Village), Memories White Sands and, possibly an expansion in the Negril area anytime soon."
He added: "Blue Diamond is here to stay; it's here to grow. We bought the lands next door to Memories White Sands, a four-star brand. On the new lands sometime next year, we will be starting the building of our five-star brand, which is Royalton (Luxury Resort). It will be a new hotel of roughly 500 rooms."
Pezzoli indicated that Blue Diamond is considering leasing or purchasing the Braco Property
He disclosed that Blue Diamond is looking to have between 1,500 and 1,700 hotel rooms in operation in Jamaica in the next two years.