New management company steps in at Sugar Bay


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ST. THOMAS - The owners of Sugar Bay Resort have switched management companies again - the second time in a little more than one year - and soon will be rebranding the resort as Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas Resort & Spa.

In July 2011, the resort parted ways with Wyndham Hotel Group, which had managed the property for 15 years.

For two years the resort was adrift, without a branded management company to help lure visitors. During that time, a number of breakdowns of the main air-conditioning unit resulted in guest refunds and cancellations.

The resort's cash flow troubles led to problems paying employees on time in the fall of 2012. In June 2013, the resort's management was taken over by Aimbridge Hospitality, which said it planned to invest about $10 million in the property.

Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia-based Apple Leisure Group's subsidiary AMResorts, announced it is taking over the Sugar Bay property. The new management company took over operations July 1, according to spokeswoman Maite Velez-Couto.

AMResorts plans to refresh the 294-room hotel and implement the concept of "unlimited luxury," the company's premium all-inclusive experience, Velez-Couto said.

The resort's all-inclusive package will comprise premium accommodations, 24-hour room and concierge services, Explorer's Club for Kids with dedicated facilities, a limitless gourmet food and beverage program and daily entertainment, according to AMResorts.

Guests will be able to go anywhere on the property and participate in activities or eat and drink at the restaurants without needing wrist bands or reservations, Velez-Couto said.

"The spa will be big component," she said.

AMResorts has partnered with spa skin care line Pevonia to operate a spa on property, she said.

Velez-Couto said 100 rooms will be set aside and updated to be part of the resort's "Preferred Club" category.

The official rebranding of Sugar Bay as a Dreams resort will take place in November after the renovation to bring the property up to the brand's standard has been completed. 

"In terms of location, Sugar Bay has the right mix of beauty and desirability for U.S. travelers, our largest guest population," Apple Leisure Group Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Javier Coll said in a prepared statement. "That, combined with our powerful distribution network, is a recipe for success in this market."

Sugar Bay will be the 12th Dreams resort property, with others located in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Curacao.

Velez-Couto said she did not have a dollar figure on the investment the company plans to make in the property.

Sugar Bay originally was developed by Kirsch American Inns Inc., which developed what is now Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort as well.

Sugar Bay was sold in 1994, and after Hurricane Marilyn badly damaged the property in 1995, it was sold again to The Moinan Group. The hotel reopened in 1996 after extensive renovations, and Wyndham remained as the manager of the property until 2011.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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