The Big Interview: Sarah Hartman, Director of Interior Design, Sandals Resorts
Images courtesy of Sandals Resorts International.
Sandals Resorts International is well known for its luxury beachfront properties in the Caribbean. So what does it take to create the perfect atmosphere for couples to enjoy these five-star getaways?
TOPHOTELNEWS exclusively interviewed Sandals’ Director of Interior Design, Sarah Hartman, about how she creates upscale yet authentic spaces within her hotel portfolio.
What is your role at Sandals?
As Director of Interior Design for Sandals Resorts, my role is to design and furnish many of the resorts luxurious rooms, suites, restaurants, spas and other public spaces. I lead the design team and make style decisions for each space, thinking about color, type of furniture, artwork, soft furnishings, and many other features. We are always thinking about how we can ensure all guests have the most luxurious, romantic and authentic Caribbean experience.
My role has changed over the years, I started in the company in 1995 as an interior designer when there were only two of us on the team. I worked my way up to where I am now, where I make the majority of design and furnishing decisions. We now have 20 people working in the design team.
Is there an interior design pattern at Sandals or does each resort have an individual theme?
Each station has its own unique personality, but the design remains consistent across the portfolio to maintain the “Sandals” experience. We add subtle tweaks here and there to make each resort unique, for example – one common thread between all Sandals resorts is romance. We are always working to ensure that each resort’s rooms and public areas provide couples with the most romantic vacations together, placing Tranquility tubs for two on many patios or balconies, placing large hammocks around the resort or outdoors. swimming pools in some suites.
How do you work with the architects on each project to create an overall concept?
There are architectural differences at each resort, so the process is always different depending on where we work in the Caribbean. Whether designing a suite, a restaurant or a spa, it is crucial to make good use of all space and offer guests a combination of luxury, relaxation and romance. We always focus on bringing the inside and the outside together, to showcase the beauty of each destination and provide a true Caribbean experience.
Does Sandals have preferred suppliers?
We have a list of preferred vendors, but it often depends on the architect and what we are able to ship to that particular island in the time frame given to us. We work with the best possible suppliers with the highest quality materials – this has always been very important to Sandals. We don’t skimp on furniture and decor, we want to create durable designs that will stand the test of time.
What qualities do you look for in the suppliers you work with?
Trust is extremely important to us. Once we have an opening date for a new complex or a complex renovation, we need to know that the suppliers will provide us with the materials we need in due time. We only work with trusted vendors who deliver the highest quality, as our main goal is to provide a visually beautiful concept and a practical, thoughtful experience, for ultimate customer satisfaction.
Which Sandals project are you most proud of so far and why?
I would say the brand’s newest resort, Sandals Royal Curaçao, which opened on June 1st. The design of the resort is much more European than our other properties, as the country was once part of the Netherlands Antilles, so it still has a lot of that influence. The interiors complement this – I went for a very modern, light and airy feel with lots of light wood, pastel colors and tropical print wallpaper. Furnishings are light-colored, with materials like wicker, bamboo, marble, and gold veneer to give guest rooms a spacious, contemporary look. We’ve added plants inside and outside the suites to bring in some greenery, which we started doing with the Tranquility Suite Collection at Sandals Royal Barbados last year.
What’s the biggest interior design challenge you’ve overcome?
Worldwide shipping delays have been difficult as most design schematics are based on specific items, some of which were harder to find during the pandemic. I also work hard to ensure that each type of room and suite provides a unique experience, which can be difficult with such a large portfolio of resorts. However, I welcome each new resort design as a positive challenge and enjoy finding new ways to add touches of personality to each.
How would you sum up your design philosophy?
My design philosophy can be summed up in a few words: luxury, romance and Caribbean style. This aligns with the Sandals brand and these are the themes we prioritize and focus on when designing a resort.
What interior design trends are proving popular right now for Sandals?
Innovation is a big trend – customers expect more from their vacation experience than ever before and are constantly looking for something unique. Our goal is always to improve the customer experience through design. The two-tiered infinity pool at the newly opened Sandals Royal Curaçao is a feature we think guests will really love, along with the resort’s brand new Kurason Island Poolside Butler Bungalow suites which are beautifully set around a swimming pool. heart-shaped. Artwork is also a popular trend. In order not to detract from each resort’s pristine views, we aim to keep artwork in rooms and suites to a minimum, with specially selected pieces.
Can you give us any indication of what Sandals are planning for future hotel developments?
Two new Sandals resorts are planned in Jamaica (Sandals Dunn’s River and Sandals Royal Dunn’s River), as well as new Beaches resorts planned in Jamaica and St. Vincent. Sandals Resorts International recently announced plans for an exciting development at two of the existing Sandals resorts in St. Lucia – Sandals Halcyon Beach and Sandals Regency La Toc. The management team also recently made an exploratory visit to the Dominican Republic, after being invited by the Dominican Republic’s Ambassador to Jamaica.