A landmark meeting between top executives of American Airlines (AA) and Sandals Resorts International (SRI) took place at the American Airlines Headquarters in Dallas, Texas on 27 June, and comes at a time when the regional tourism and hospitality sector along with several Caricom governments are working hard to restore airlift to the Caribbean after the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Sandals team was led by Executive Chairman Adam Stewart and Chief Executive Officer Gebhard Rainier and also included Executive Vice-President of Sales and Industry Relations for Unique Vacations (UVI) Gary Sadler along with UVI Chief Executive Officer Jeff Clarke and Senior Vice President of Brand Development Tony Cortizas. Unique Vacations is the exclusive marketing partner for Sandals Resorts.
The American Airlines team meantime comprised Vice President of Global Sales Kyle Mabry, Chief Customer Officer at American Airlines Alison Taylor and Managing Director for Latin America, Caribbean and Florida Sales Christine Valls.
This is the first time American Airlines, one of the world’s largest airline companies, has hosted a Caribbean hotel company for such a meeting, and SRI Executive Chairman Adam Stewart said this is part of Sandals’ ongoing efforts to help drive the recovery of the regional tourism sector. “This meeting could not have come at a better time as we seek to restore the airlift that is so vital to the region’s hospitality and tourism sector. The incredible relationship Sandals has with American Airlines has led to enormous benefits for the many destinations where Sandals now operates, and we expect they will soon begin planning for increased flights to the destinations where we will soon be operating such as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Curaçao. I remember my dad, the late Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart used to always boast that wherever Sandals establishes a resort the airlines were sure to follow, and I am beyond proud that along with the amazing teams at Sandals and Unique Vacations we continue to carry on and build on that legacy.”
Stewart went on to thank AA for the incredible support it had already provided thus far in helping to support recovery efforts, “Over the last 14 months American has demonstrated a level of strength and agility in a highly complex time and we appreciate it. If there is one thing Covid-19 has shown us is the power of partnerships and relationships. Business does not come to those who wait; it’s about getting out and making it happen. We are pleased to be in a position where we can advocate on behalf of the entire Caribbean, and assist with trying to reestablish and enhance the routes that all our islands depend on to not just to bring visitors, but to connect with the rest of the world.”
The discussions revolved around growth, the expansion of air service, how American can provide more flights to the Caribbean and how they can strengthen their efforts in the region.
Gary Sadler Executive Vice-President of Sales and Industry Relations at Unique Vacations said this was great news for the region, and is a result of Sandals taking the initiative to go out and do what is needed to drive the recovery of tourism. “Building tourism goes beyond just having a beautiful beach and nice hotels; the meeting with AA showcases Sandals’ continued commitment to being a champion of the entire Caribbean tourism sector. The company is constantly taking steps to promote the region, and their success is reflected in the fact that there is increasingly high demand for travel to their resorts and to the region. This meeting will ensure that as American Airlines moves to increase its service worldwide, the Caribbean remains at the top of the list.”
The Sandals team made quite a splash as they arrived at the American Airlines headquarters in a fleet of Sandals and Beaches branded cars. They were taken on a tour of the facility where they got a chance to get up close with some historic American Airlines equipment on display.
As they left the meeting the Sandals Executive Chairman assured that there was much to look forward to, “The future of Caribbean travel is strong and our good company is bringing a new level of product to the Caribbean that is going to change the game.”