By anguillian August 28, 2017 10:54




There will be a grand dinner party for staff at Belmond Cap Juluca on Sunday, August 27. That’s the date when the property will close for fourteen months for extensive renovation and expansion.
But, as the staff members say their goodbyes, they will eventually be returning to continue their exceptional service in a brand new luxury image and atmosphere by Thanksgiving in November 2018.
“That’s the plan,” says newly-appointed General Manager to oversee the rebuilding process, Mr. Tiago Sarmento, who has previously managed an exquisite and large Belmond property in Brazil and is originally from Portugal.
“Belmond is a collection of nearly fifty properties in the world including trains like the Orient Express, river cruises, and an amazing portfolio of hotels. You will find a Belmond hotel in only very special places in the world,” Mr. Sarmento said, naming the many places where they are located.
“All of the Belmond properties have a lot of soul and they are mostly in authentic places,” he continued. “I think Belmond and Cap Juluca are definitely the perfect match because Cap Juluca, as you said, has been the flagship of tourism in Anguilla for so many decades. It is extraordinary just for the month that I’ve been here, to learn from guests and people from other places that Maundays Bay is the most extraordinary beach they have seen in their life. And you are talking about very influential people who have travelled all around the world like Asia, Europe and Latin America. To say that, is something very spectacular. It is fascinating for me to come here to lead the team at the hotel and see the pride each of the employees has. They call themselves Julucans and that says a lot,” he stated.

Mr. Sarmento was asked how he was able to adjust in Anguilla having come from a larger property. “I have worked in hotels of different sizes,” he explained. “I have worked in a luxury property of forty-three rooms ten years ago. The last one in Brazil was a hundred and ninety-three rooms; and I have worked in the Caribbean, in Puerto Rico, for four years in a property of a hundred and thirty-nine rooms, similar in size to this one [Belmond Cap Juluca] and this resort is also flat. I think the number of rooms is not important. The most important thing is the service you deliver to your guests and the quality of engagement that you give to them. You have to make sure that your team accommodates the needs of your guests. You will have to ensure every single day, every single minute and every single second that you are exceeding guests’ expectations, going beyond and above their expectations.”
“Would you say that Cap Juluca, with its motto being “Beyond Expectations”, impressed Belmond and attracted the company to Anguilla with its brand name?,” Sarmento was asked.
“Definitely impressed,” he replied. “It is a little jewel of the Caribbean and Belmond was impressed because of how special it is. It is definitely a place with a soul. Since forty years ago, at the beginning of the Belmond collection, with the first hotel in Italy, this company has a DNA that if there is a place with a soul, it belongs to the Belmond collection. That’s how the company has grown forty years ago to owning nearly fifty properties.”
“Now that Cap Juluca has joined the Belmond family of luxury resorts, what do we in Anguilla expect to see with Belmond being the resort’s parent company?” Mr. Sarmento was further questioned.
“It will start with a full renovation,” he responded. “When the acquisition was made, it was announced that the property would be closed for renovation. This renovation will start at the beginning of September and will last for fourteen months. All the public areas and guest rooms will be totally renovated from floor to ceiling. We will add a spa and some events space. We will redesign the food and beverage concepts and will add a few more guest rooms. We will have one hundred and thirteen rooms in total. There are now ninety-six rooms.”
He pointed out, however, that all the design drawings were not yet finalised adding, “but definitely there will be a new spa, a new swimming pool and a few more villas. There is a lot of space – three-quarters of a mile of beach. We are very fortunate to have three-quarters of a mile of beach to do everything that needs to be done. Of course we will be keeping the same style. It is a very particular and special style that Cap Juluca has and that so many others have copied,” he commented.

Asked about the proposed investment capital for the project, Mr. Sarmento said: “For the renovation, the expected number is $35 million in addition to the acquisition investment.” He could not provide staffing figures given the fact that an analysis of the required buildings and services needed to be undertaken first. He said, however, that eventually there would be more employees than the current number (over 200); the service quality would be higher and there would be more rooms to cater for, thus requiring additional workers.
While some of the employees may find themselves working elsewhere during the closure of the resort, Mr. Sarmento said: “After the closure period, our staff will be welcomed back with our arms open, so no one will lose his or her job and they will be back to a better and even more special property when we reopen.”

He was positive that the construction workers would mainly be local people. “There is a lot that needs to happen. It’s a big construction,” he observed, and he was certain that all the work would be completed within fourteen months. “Living on an island we all know that there are more variables than if we were on the mainland with the logistics of supplies arriving etc,” he added. “Having said that, we are very confident everything that needs to be done can be done in fourteen months. We have hired a project management company to make sure that we are kept on budget and on target with dates. We want to open for Festive 2018 [Thanksgiving, November]. It is very important that we reopen then.”

Mr. Sarmento said Belmond was appreciative of the role played by the previous owners, Charles and Linda Hickox, in the operations of Cap Juluca. “We definitely want to keep the Hickoxes’ legacy here. They have done a lot for Anguilla and for the property,” he went on. “They played a very important role in this hotel and in the Caribbean; and so we really want to keep their legacy of having an outstanding property in Anguilla.”
He spoke of plans to train Anguillians at various Belmond properties abroad. “One of the many things we will be doing, for the next twelve months, is sending some of our managers for training to learn more about our brand and quality of service so that we can deliver it here,” he said. “Belmond is an international company and we would like to give opportunities to our staff to have experience abroad and also for our staff abroad to experience Anguilla.”

“How long will you be in Anguilla?” he was asked.
“For many years,” he answered. “Anguilla is a very special place. My family and I feel, since day one, very grateful to be here. I have heard that Cap Juluca had a strong name in Anguilla and the Caribbean and as soon as I learnt that Belmond was coming to Cap Juluca, I was extremely interested because I knew the property from the past. I didn’t know about it personally, but I knew of it because its name preceded it. It is very easy, as soon as you get here, to understand why. There is no other place on earth with this beauty.”

By anguillian August 28, 2017 10:54


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