History & Legacy
a courtyard with tables and chairs

Beach Resort Barbados

a view of the ocean through a window


The first glimpse of the sea through the marbled lobby of Sandy Lane is one you won’t soon forget. Set on coral sands and turquoise waters within an ancient mahogany grove, elegant Palladian buildings, 113 rooms and suites and a stunning private villa stud the property. Here you’ll find exceptional golf, exquisite gourmet dining, an outstanding spa and endless recreation all alongside authentic and magically warm Barbadian hospitality.

Our Storied Legacy
January 1946
1st February 1961
Legendary by name, illustrious by nature
The place to be
August 1961
1st March 1967
25th April 1998
17th March 2001
5th December 2006
September 2008
March 2020
4th March 2023
Present Day
a courtyard with tables and chairs

From the moment we welcomed our first guests in 1961, Sandy Lane has been considered the premier luxury resort in the Caribbean – an enchanting haven of tranquillity and an unparallelled destination for the world’s finest holiday experience. Now in our sixth decade, the legendary Sandy Lane is a timeless celebration of the ultimate 'island-elegant' escape.

a man with a mustache

Former British politician, Ronald Tree, was the grandson of Chicago department store magnate Marshall Field. He found himself in Barbados at Glitter Bay House in 1946, as a guest of Sir Edward Cunard. Whilst on honeymoon and over the course of his 25 winters spent here, he fell in love with the island – and its people – so Tree embarked on a magnificent plan to build a holiday residence in Barbados.

a group of people on a boat in the water with the sun in the background

True to his dream… Tree built a dazzling home in Barbados named ‘Heron Bay’, which was described at the time as looking like “an astonishing building from out of Atlantis”. Over the years, he and his wife Marietta enjoyed the company of many good friends who came to visit, such as Ingrid Bergman, Claudette Colbert, David Niven, and Sir Winston & Lady Churchill. Inspiration then struck for Tree to develop a luxury hotel and golf course, as an exotic hideaway which felt intimately familiar. He chose the old Sandy Lane sugar plantation, an idyllic location where hundreds of ancient mahogany trees stretched down to the finest beach on the island, with uninterrupted views of the sunset every night.

a tree in front of a building

An investment syndicate was formed, finance was raised, and acclaimed architects Happy Ward & Jimmy Walker were appointed to oversee the lavish project. Once permission had been granted to move the old west coast road inland by 500 ft., construction of the ‘neo-Palladian’ styled Sandy Lane began in 1958, which had just 52 bedrooms at the time.

a group of people standing outside a building

With the majestic mahogany trees retained in situ on the property and its iconic coral stone lobby now perfectly framing the Caribbean Sea as its backdrop, Sandy Lane welcomed its first guests in 1961. The resort soon became acclaimed as the only truly elegant, sophisticated and chic hotel in the Caribbean; immediately regarded as the most sought-after holiday destination in the region, and admired worldwide as the place to be…

a person walking with an umbrella

Since the notorious days of the 60s and 70s, Hollywood’s A-List, aristocracy, celebrities and Royalty alike have always treated Sandy Lane as their tropical ‘home away from home’. Indeed, the stories that swirl around their visits have become the stuff of legend: Aristotle Onassis being rowed in from his yacht whilst Maria Callas swam ashore with a pet marmoset on her back; David Niven inventing his own fabulous cocktails at the bar; Elton John adhering to the New Year's Eve black-tie dress code with a black tie around his thigh (and later giving an impromptu concert at the piano); and an American heiress who was discreetly known only as “Mrs. N”, bought a psychedelic watch with no numbers to wear whilst at Sandy Lane, saying "with this watch, it's always martini time."

a man and a woman sitting on a beach

The other personalities and celebrated names that frequented Sandy Lane at the time reads like a veritable Who’s Who of the era, such as: Queen Elizabeth II, Frank Sinatra, Mick Jagger, Princess Margaret, Luciano Pavarotti, Donatella Versace, Joan Collins, Twiggy, Michael Caine, Stefan Edburg, Raquel Welch, Sidney Poitier, Peter Sellers, Harry Belafonte, Lord Snowden, Natalie Wood, Vivienne Leigh, Sarah Vaughn, John Cleese, T.S. Eliot, and George Harrison of The Beatles – on honeymoon with Pattie Boyd (pictured here on Sandy Lane beach).

a man swinging a golf club

Sandy Lane’s original golf course (now known as “The Old Nine”) opens for play, and had a total of just 9 charming holes at first. The iconic 7th hole was and still remains a favourite to this day, with the par-3’s highly elevated tee box positioned perfectly for a teasing chip down to the green, whilst showcasing panoramic views of the ocean behind it.

a man in a suit sitting at a desk

The hotel had now grown to 120 rooms complete with swimming pool and tennis courts, and was sold in 1967 by its founder Ronald Tree to ‘Trust Houses’. In 1970 Trust Houses merged with Forte, and Trust House Forte (T.H.F.) was born, then the largest hotel company in the world. Considered as the jewel in the T.H.F. crown, the hotel was frequently visited by Lord Charles Forte (pictured), the head of the company.

a person sitting on a stone ledge

Having closed for seven months to conduct renovations of the existing hotel, Sandy Lane reopened to guests in 1991 (pictured). It was once said that you “passed by Sandy Lane on the staircase to heaven”, such was its stunning natural beauty and enchanting architecture.

a collage of a person

T.H.F. was the subject of a hostile takeover by Granada, indirectly placing Sandy Lane in a vulnerable position – as it did not fit the profile of the conglomerate and was therefore put up for sale. Various potential buyers loomed on the horizon, all with plans to dramatically increase the number of rooms and, in the process, totally destroying the hotel’s unique qualities. However, a group of five individuals who had known and loved the hotel for many years whilst spending time in Barbados, could not let the property fall into the hands of a multinational chain. Therefore, Dermot Desmond, JP McManus, John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, became the new Owners of Sandy Lane. The consortium wanted the hotel to be much more than just 'the most distinguished address in the Caribbean'; the objective was to instead extend the reputation of Sandy Lane around the world, and create a quintessentially prestigious luxury hotel brand worthy of global prestige and status…

a courtyard with tables and chairs

The team at Sandy Lane waved goodbye to their final guests and, as the gates closed behind them, architects and engineers were at the ready to embark on developing the most exciting chapter of the hotel’s history. The decision was made to totally demolish the existing structure, and rebuild – of paramount importance to the new Owners was their desire to preserve Sandy Lane’s aesthetic design and unique ambiance, at whatever cost, and great precision even went in to protecting the ancient mahogany trees on the site – such as on The Lower Terrace (pictured).

a pool with a building in the background

A complete redevelopment of 5-star accommodations and facilities began, which set the standard for all the world’s leading hotels in the 21st century. The plans for the new Sandy Lane were simply remarkable… The new-look resort had extended room blocks with an additional penthouse floor, brand new 5-bedoom villa, bespoke marble throughout, state-of-the-art in-room technology, a reimagined 47,000 sq. ft. spa, enormous pool with underwater music, an underground tunnel and engineering plant to accommodate all back of house services, dedicated desalination facility, hi-tech utilities building, and 45 holes of world championship golf, with two courses designed by Tom Fazio.

a patio with tables and chairs

Sandy Lane reopens its doors on St. Patrick’s Day, 2001. Hundreds of millions of dollars had been invested into this masterpiece of a project, with the overall property also growing in size from 380 acres to 830 acres in the process – following the redevelopment plans in place for the new-look golf courses. The hotel had been exquisitely reimagined in the same timeless neo-Palladian style as the original, complete with its white coral stone rotunda and iconic lobby archways – albeit larger and even more luxurious. Enormous care had been taken to maintain the integrity and capture the essence of Sandy Lane’s architecture, charm and warm residential ambiance, whilst effortlessly integrating all of the latest technology and facilities. The iconic style and graceful service that drew a loyal following to Sandy Lane for the previous 40 years, was destined to continue…

a golf course with a pond

Designed by renowned golf architect, Tom Fazio, The Green Monkey golf course opens for play. Carved out of the incredible limestone quarry landscape by dynamite, and touted as the world's most expensive course ever built at the time, it has been enjoyed by ‘golf royalty’ such as Tiger Woods over the years. Both extraordinary and ultra-exclusive in equal measures, and limited to only ten available tee times per day, The Green Monkey has been described by some as being 'like a ghost – often spoken of, but rarely seen'.

a group of people posing for the camera

The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust (SLCT) was established in 2005 by its Grand Patron and founding Trustee, Mr. Derrick Smith. Since its inception, the SLCT has donated over BDS$75M to fund multiple causes, from educational and medical programs, to the construction of new schools and community-based initiatives. All have the same mission in mind: to touch and improve upon the lives of underprivileged children in Barbados. In January 2023, the SLCT was presented with the ‘Humanitarian Award’ by Barbados’s Prime Minister, The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley. The PM also spoke of the unwavering dedication the Trust has shown to children in need on the island, characterising the organisation as one which 'for the last 18 years has meant the difference between life and death, and has meant the difference in the quality of life for so many thousands of Barbadian children'.

a golf course with a building in the background

Broadcast worldwide on ESPN and Sky Sports, The Country Club at Sandy Lane hosted the 2006 'World Golf Championships World Cup', becoming only the second Caribbean country ever to do so. The German team of Bernhard Langer & Marcel Siem lifted the coveted trophy, after they beat Scotland on the first play-off hole; both teams had finished 16-under after regulation play.

a living room with a large pool

The resort closed for a period of time in order to undergo a substantial multi-million dollar refurbishment, in conjunction with the Owners’ vision: to continuously enhance and offer its guests the most exceptional quality product and experience possible. The renovation included upgrades and redevelopments to areas of the resort such as the rooms, suites, Bajan Blue, and L’Acajou.

a swimming pool with a sunset

In keeping with Sandy Lane’s mission to always be at the worldwide forefront of service and the guest experience, brand new facilities such as padel tennis courts have been added to the resort over the years – which have since become a favourite energetic activity for many of our repeat guests.

a couple of chairs and an umbrella on a beach

Much like other hotels across the rest of the world, Sandy Lane had to inevitably temporarily close due to Covid-19, and the global pandemic will always be documented as an unprecedented piece of the resort's history. As we closed our gates behind the last guests to depart the resort, their two isolated beach loungers and empty bottle of Champagne fashioned a rather profound image at the time. Thankfully, the island was left relatively unscathed by the pandemic, and Barbados very quickly became a much sought after destination to return to. It wouldn’t be too long until Sandy Lane reopened its doors to guests in the pursuit of healthy open-air living, heavenly scenery, and an experience that felt very much ‘pre-pandemic’ in nature.

a group of people posing for a photo with a waterfall in the background

With an illustrious history of 40 years, The Gold Cup is one of the longest running sporting events on the island. As part of its history, Sandy Lane has been the proud sponsor since 1997, and 2023 marked our 25th year of partnership with the Barbados Turf Club. What began as an opportunity to put Barbados on the horse racing map, soon became a highly acclaimed and anticipated international event. Today, the Sandy Lane Gold Cup is now one of the most prestigious fixtures in the Caribbean horse racing calendar. The greatly anticipated race day in 2023 was a huge success, and we were delighted to even welcome Barbados’s President and Prime Minister to our box. An aptly named racehorse, 'It’s A Gamble', stunned the crowd to take the coveted golden trophy.

a beach with people on it

Having celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2021, Sandy Lane’s esteemed reputation and iconic legacy continues. One of the Caribbean’s only Forbes Travel Guide 5-Star & AAA 5-Diamond rated hotels, Sandy Lane is nowadays considered a ‘home away from home’ for couples and families alike – many of whom have now been regulars for several decades. Combining understated luxury with a refreshing air of informality, we invite you to discover the next chapter of Sandy Lane…

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The Sandy Lane Experience

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