Sandals Resorts has been evolving since 1981, but one thing that remains constant is its incredible team members who make up the soul of the brand family. So, as a special tribute, and in continuation of its 40th Anniversary celebrations, Sandals Resorts commissioned renowned fashion designer Stan Herman to reimagine the uniforms across its portfolio. Why? Simply put… the team members are the fabric that keeps Sandals together.
The inaugural “Anniversary Collection” designed by Stan Herman debuted at the opening of Sandals Royal Curaçao on June 1st, followed by a first-of-its-kind fashion show at the all-inclusive resort's Grand Opening Celebration, where haute fashion met hospitality.
“Our Team Members are the heart of our operation and we wanted them to feel as much pride in representing Sandals as we do to have them along for the journey," said Sandals Resorts Executive Chairman, Adam Stewart.
In the spring of 2021, Adam Stewart and the Sandals leadership team began looking to the company’s 40th anniversary year – going beyond 2021 and 2022 and looking ahead at the innovations that will lay the groundwork for the next 40 years of Sandals and Beaches. Architects and designers were tapped to re-imagine suites and Sandals' award-winning chefs, hailing from all around the world, dug deep to develop all-new restaurant concepts. But innovation is not just about cutting-edge design and amenities. It can also touch the team member experience in a way that uniquely represents all they do to make Sandals Resorts what it is - starting with a fresh approach to hospitality fashion.
But … who would be able to design uniforms with as much impact as the breathtaking, new Kurason Island Suites at Sandals Royal Curaçao (villas at the edge of a heart-shaped pool surrounding a heart-shaped island)?
No one but the Father of Fashion Week himself. Enter Stan Herman, well-known around the world for his energy and vision. “I like to make people happy,” Stan says. He’s been doing that as well as anyone for as long as most people can remember.
Decades and decades and decades into his illustrious career, he’s still the go-to designer when a major brand needs a fresh look. Fashion insiders have called him the “foremost innovator” who has “changed the fashion industry forever.” He’s the recipient of lifetime achievement awards and has the respect of Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, and Michael Kors. You see his uniform designs everywhere: JetBlue, FedEx, Las Vegas resorts, and all day long on QVC.
Companies can only hope he says “yes” when a fashion project comes up.
“I’d never done a family-owned hotel brand in the Caribbean, so when I heard about what’s behind the Sandals story, I jumped at it. The whole idea was very seductive for me,” said Herman.
To get a better idea of the home-grown resort company, Herman and his design partner, Michael Schwarz, traveled to Montego Bay to meet with Stewart. The blue sky and emerald water immediately caught their eyes. Stewart’s first-hand story of Sandals locked in a vision.
“Adam told us how much the resorts meant to his father and to his family,” Schwarz says. “And then he had a clear way of describing what he sees next for the guest experience. It was as if he took us on a journey in his mind.”
The admiration was mutual.
“From the moment I met Stan and Michael,” Stewart says, “I knew we’d make magic with the new looks for our Team Members.”
After meeting together to understand the future-forward vision that Sandals was heading in, Stewart, Herman and Schwarz decided that the logical place to introduce the Anniversary Collection was Sandals Royal Curaçao - the brand’s 16th Sandals Resort on a new island with tons of untapped innovative potential, making its debut in the company’s 40th anniversary year.
So a year before the resort opened, Herman and Schwarz absorbed themselves in the images of Curaçao’s desert, distant peaks, and the ocean lapping at toes. They considered the nearby capital of Willemstad, with its colorful and famous seaside buildings. But more importantly, they went straight to the heart of Sandals for some fresh inspiration.
“We talked to the Sandals Team Members and we heard about their island pride and how important it is to be comfortable,” Herman says. “It all comes back to being happy. That’s the goal.”
The clothes are intended to lead guests through a living, breathing story of an epic Sandals vacation. At breakfast, the shirts and pants should have a way of saying “good morning” before the hostess can say it out loud, and at dinner the clothes alone will tell guests, “Let me help you wind down.”
“There should be a flow, from the moment you step out of the car and see the welcome staff,” Herman says. “So, at Sandals Royal Curaçao, I see the ice blue and sand colors as palette cleansers — they help calm you after you’ve traveled to get here.
As you go deeper onto the property the colors heat up, with aqua and brighter blues to build passion. Isn’t that what Sandals is all about? Passion, comfort, and fun? The uniforms should be about that, too.”
And that they are…
Front Desk and Lobby: As you enter the property, the front desk uniforms are intended to be a palate cleanser from the outside world. Soft blue, sands and navy start to set the stage of calm that will explode into washed colors as you explore all corners of the property.
The Manager Set: Intended to give a nod to professionality yet, more importantly, a nod to friendliness, navy blues and soft whites are welcoming and are a visual for the guest that they are being well looked after.
Club Sandals Concierge: Knowledgeable yet friendly in a welcoming glass color grounded on soft creams and navy, Club Sandals' Concierge team makes guests feel they are in good hands.
Day Butlers: Visible, but calming, a soft seafoam color sets the Day Butler apart. A tunic top gives the team member comfort yet also hints details of the tuxedo shirt as a nod to the formality of service they provide.
Evening Butlers: The seafoam color carries over subtly to the Evening Butlers, who are now a modern representation of the formal service experience - and done so with a lighter touch. Color is found playfully in the Curaçao-specific pocket square that nods to the colors of Willemstad. Rather than a tie, the tux-detailed shirt is fronted with a silver “S” representative of the Sandals polish.
Wedding and Event Managers: A soft palette reminiscent of the property’s sands and stone allows a chic nod to the wedding environment while keeping the team member cool and professional and giving a neutrality to any couple’s wedding scheme.
Cocktail Server: A casually elegant wrap dress draws its inspiration from the cool and calm colors we see at every turn. Cool aqua sets a stage for a relaxed yet polished experience.
Day Dining: Washed coral adds a brightness to the palette all the while hinting at the local floral colors for day dining team members who subtly serve as a spike of color wherever they go.
Zuka Restaurant: With unique looks designed to match each dynamic restaurant concept, at Zuka Restaurant, the vibrant colors and flavors of Central and South America come together through ruffled button downs and elegant wrap dresses.
Sandals Royal Curaçao is ‘Where Amazing Comes Together’ and during its Grand Opening Celebration at the end of June, team members from the front of house - including bell service and Sandals’ iconic butlers - to the resorts’ 11 restaurants, 9 bars, and entertainment team, to the heart of house team behind the scenes, all came together for a fashion show narrated by Stan Herman, Michael Schwarz and Adam Stewart.
Behind the scenes, Sandals Royal Curaçao team members got hair and make-up ready before making their way to the seaside venue where they would confidently take the runway.
At Aolos, a Mediterranean open-air restaurant, stood three dozen staff members in destination-inspired uniforms, forming part of the new Anniversary Collection. With Curaćao as the backdrop, Stan Herman's designs came to life, inviting guests to witness everything come together - from sun-washed, soft fade uniforms that reflect the natural and weathered appeal of island style to more modern uniform touches such as the iconic Sandals Butlers.
The many world-class restaurants on-site stole the show with their own own fashion identities, such as Island Crimson, the prominent color of Butch’s Chophouse, the namesake restaurant of founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart.
Additional looks included small ruffles featured on the shirts at Latin-themed restaurant Zuka; traditional tunics with navy piping at Greek staple Aolos; and rich aqua jackets at the Japanese-inspired Gatsu Gatsu.
Even Stan Herman, who for nearly 50 years has been the world’s foremost mastermind of uniform fashion, had never seen a show like this.
“We’ve been to unveilings for clients in the environments where they do business,” Herman said. “But I’ve never done this in an environment like this next to Caribbean water. It’s incredible.”
“I can see for myself if the clothes make them happy. It might sound simple, but everything has to tie together — the clothes, the people wearing them, and the people they’re helping.” The smiles and laughter among the staff-turned-models said it all: We’re happy, and if we’re happy then we can make everyone around us very happy, too.
Over the next two years, happiness will ensconce all 15,000 Sandals and Beaches employees across its growing portfolio of 16 resorts and 8 islands – with sketches already underway for the debut of Sandals Dunn’s River next May, the 17th resort in the Sandals portfolio. Herman and Schwarz will travel to each destination so they can soak in each island and resort’s specific culture and then use it to inspire the uniform styles they create. Curaçao is not the same as Jamaica, just as Jamaica is not the same as The Bahamas or Grenada or Saint Lucia.
“All of the resorts are surrounded with sand, palm trees, and beautiful ocean water,” says Schwarz, “but there are differences, too. Uniforms are anything but ‘uniform’ and we want those differences to come through in the clothes,” said Herman.
“We can’t wait to show you what’s next,” said Stewart.
Listen to Stan Herman and Michael Schwarz tell the story behind the inspiration of Sandals Royal Curaçao’s new Anniversary Collection on Episode 37 of the Sandals Palmcast.