|Robert Logan brought his engaging style from Singapore’s Raffles Hotel to Barbados’ luxurious Sandy Lane.|
When Robert Logan was heading up the luxurious Raffles Hotel Singapore as its GM from 2004 to 2008, he was often quizzed on where he could possibly go from there. After all, he was managing one of the most legendary hotels in the world and overseeing a staff of 600.
“It was interesting. We hosted many heads of state at Raffles and many people would ask me the million-dollar question, where on earth would I go from Raffles?” Logan told Luxury Travel Advisor. “And quite honestly, I could never answer them. I would actually say, ‘I really don’t know.’”
Then he got a call from a representative of billionaire Irish financier Dermot Desmond, owner of the prestigious Sandy Lane Beach Resort and Spa in Barbados. The property can command anything from $3,200 to $25,000 a night during the December/January festive season, and that’s with a two-week minimum stay attached to it. Like Raffles, Sandy Lane has attracted its share of A-listers over the years, including Queen Elizabeth II, Elton John, Jacqueline Kennedy, Aristotle Onassis, Tony Blair and Sidney Poitier.
His meeting with Desmond went well. “I met him in London and he is just a tremendously all-encompassing person; he is just a pleasure to meet,” Logan said. “I was just taken by him on who he is as a person and his love for Sandy Lane.”
The next step was to fly to Barbados to check out the resort firsthand, since Logan, who had always had Sandy Lane on his radar, had actually never been there. What he found was a luxurious resort set on 1,000 acres of beachfront land, run by an extremely welcoming and warm staff, he recalled. Logan’s fate was sealed. It was 2008 and Sandy Lane had just gotten itself a new GM.
Over the years and even through the recession, Sandy Lane’s extremely affluent clientele has remained loyal, particularly during peak times. “It doesn’t matter whether you are single, or a newlywed couple, or a family, or a retired couple who is wanting to enjoy themselves,” Logan said. “This property seems to be able to relate to everybody and in a very subtle way, where everybody thinks that they are in a kind of private villa.”
Indeed, repeat guests are many, although first-timers show up as well, wondering what the buzz about Sandy Lane is all about.
Loyalty like that must mean there’s a significant staff-training program in place, and Logan confirmed that there is. To talk about training in Barbados, he said, it’s important first to understand the island’s culture.
“The Bajans are very warm, gracious welcoming people,” he said. “They are very confident and well-spoken and many are very well-educated. That gives them a great sense of pride and comfort that they need to be able to engage at the level which you don’t normally see everywhere. The only thing you really need to do is to add the skill sets.”
That is accomplished through a three-day orientation program that gives employees all the basics about Sandy Lane. They also meet everyone from the GM to every department head. The new employees then break into separate departments where Sandy Lane has designated trainers. There, it’s all about sustaining those levels of service and so the training department continues to be very active. Toward this end, Logan has allocated a full-time training area, so there’s never a reason not to hold a session.
Sandy Lane’s definition of luxury, as it turns out, is quite simple: “That we only provide and deliver the best and I think our staff know that,” he told Luxury Travel Advisor. “We are very, very lucky to have owners who are extremely supportive and allow us to provide it to the needs of the guests; there is no second best at Sandy Lane.”
That credo is necessary because Sandy Lane charges some of the highest rates of any resort in the world. “People pay that because they understand what we are providing.”
|Sandy Lane is perfectly set on 1,000 acres of beachfront land along Barbados’ western or “platinum” coast.|
Sandy Lane take its product delivery so seriously that new owners Dermot Desmond and Partners and J.P. McManus flattened the property completely after they acquired it; they found it needed a great deal of work. They reopened it in March 2001 after a two-and-a-half-year rebuild that brought it back to within “an inch of the original,” said Logan.
Added were the two Tom Fazio-designed golf courses, the famous Green Monkey and the Country Club Golf Course, a spa that now measures 47,000 square feet, and high-tech in-room control panels that still seem cutting-edge today. In 2008, they shut it down again for a complete restoration that also added new concepts such as the Bajan Blue beachfront restaurant.
“At the top of the luxury market, you have to keep reinvesting,” said Logan, who added that the enhancements continue so that guests have the same experience they do when they’re at home.
Upkeep of rooms at Sandy Lane occurs the moment a guest checks out; a team moves in to ensure everything that needs to be addressed is taken care of. That might sound like something most hotels do, but here a team of six staffers makes the rounds all night, polishing all the marble so it looks like new when guests awaken. Another team sees to all of the coral appointments.
To keep up with the high standards it has set for itself, Sandy Lane has 700 employees maintaining a 1,000-acre resort that has just 112 guest rooms. If that number of staff seems high, consider this: Research indicates that Sandy Lane contributes 2.8 percent to Barbados’ gross domestic product.
One can imagine that with such experience in a luxury hotel setting—Logan also has worked for The Peninsula Group and Four Seasons—he certainly is not hidden behind his desk all day.
“The reason I joined hospitality was really because I love people,” he told Luxury Travel Advisor. “I always feel that it makes a huge difference for people to be able to meet the GM and so I engage myself as much as I can. I certainly try to be always greeting new arrivals and returning guests and giving that great sense of farewell. Those touch points are extremely important.”
|Sandy Lane’s elegant room furnishings make for a supremely comfortable and relaxing home- awayfrom-home atmosphere.|
It doesn’t end there. Logan is out and about while guests are having breakfast to ensure they’ve had a good sleep and he touches base as they’re having lunch and dinner as well. He lives on property in a separate location near the tennis court because he believes that it’s necessary to be nearby so he can be on hand at all times.
“So, it becomes an active day, but it’s very enriching,” he said. “I interact with people all the time. It’s natural for me; it’s something I enjoy.”