Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten Elevates Guest Experience With New Executive Team

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WHY IT RATES: The introduction of a new executive food and beverage team is facilitating a rollout of new culinary offerings, elevating the all-inclusive dining at the resorts. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer

Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten strive for excellence and improvement of the guest experience at the all-inclusive, adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and family-focused Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa.

The resorts have made a steady recovery following Hurricane Irma just two years ago. While facing some operational and personnel challenges initially, the team is very committed to continued improvements in every area of operations.

The appointment of a new vice president of operations and key members of the executive food and beverage team, in addition to a new staff training and incentive program, ensure the resorts are poised to offer guests the great Caribbean vacation experience guests have come to expect from Sonesta.

Jamie Lee joins as vice president of operations and general manager for Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa and Sonesta Ocean Point. Jamie’s previous position was with the exclusive, luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises, bringing knowledge that is perfectly matched for the operations and scale of Sonesta Resorts St. Maarten.

During his tenure, he managed and oversaw various aspects of the company’s business including revenue management and budgeting, as well as ensuring that standard operating procedures were continuously met to make certain that routine operations are smoothly carried out.

Jamie has an incredible aptitude for successfully motivating and managing teams, resources and networks; excellent communication skills and experience in exceeding customer satisfaction goals ensuring that GSTS (Guest Satisfaction Tracking System) feedback is reviewed and appropriately actioned; a key factor in the future success of the properties. Jamie is also a former member of the Maho Group team having served as Vice President of Casino Operations for Casino Royale from 2010-2014.

Food and Beverage Appointments

Sonesta Resorts St. Maarten understands that the food and beverage experience is paramount, and the company is making huge strides to meet the high standards today’s modern traveler has come to expect.

With the introduction of the executive food and beverage team, a rollout of new culinary offerings is in place, elevating the all-inclusive dining experience with a focus on quality, freshness, variety and authentic international and local flavors that cater to every guests’ preference.

Below are the newest members of the Sonesta Resorts St. Maarten food and beverage team:

Thomas V. Van Balveren was appointed director of food and beverage over the summer, implementing a comprehensive strategy for the resorts post opening.

Most recently he acted as general manager at the five-star Zoetry in Montego Bay and was director of food and beverage at Secrets Wild Orchid, Secrets St. James and did the pre-opening of the all-inclusive Breathless Montego Bay, responsible for all food and beverage and banquet operations overseeing a total of 850 rooms with 13 restaurants and 13 bars.

A Dutch native, Thomas has extensive experience in Caribbean hospitality from the kitchen to management, with time at the Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao and Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island in Montego Bay.

He has shown exemplary professionalism and enthusiasm, utilizing his expertise in large-scale operational management, training and guest services to implement procedures to exceed company goals.

New executive chef, Francisco Almonte Martinez has extensive kitchen management experience in the Caribbean.

From the Dominican Republic to Jamaica, Chef Francisco has developed menus and recipes, supervised staff, all while maintaining the highest professional food quality and sanitation standards.

His most recent tenure were as Executive Sous Chef of Royalton White Sands Jamaica, Executive Chef of Sandals Negril, Jamaica and Executive chef of Iberostar Suite, Rosehall Jamaica.

New executive sous chef, Ramon Santana Rijo is multilingual, hails from the Dominican Republic and has been working in the Caribbean as an Executive Chef and Sous Chef for almost 20 years.

He has a passion for creative culinary menus while ensuring guest and operational satisfaction by overseeing a motivated and efficient team in the kitchen, banquets and all areas of food service.

His past experience as an Executive Chef and Sous Chef includes the Grand Bahia Principe Hotel, La Romana, Hyatt Rose Hall Jamaica, Sandals Ochi Beach Resorts, Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica and most recently Sunscape Splash and Cove Montego Bay.

New executive pastry chef, Sheikh Masood Ahsan brings years of experience in his native India and beyond, most recently working at The Gift International Centre, the premier business and leisure Clubotel in Gujarat, where he was an important member of pre-opening team implementing equipment, team training and overseeing standards of operations.

Chef Masood has extensive experience in the kitchen at international hotels from Oman to the Maldives.


Sonesta Resorts St. Maarten also welcomes Damian R. Passmore as chief engineer who will oversee maintenance, telecommunications and electrical at the properties, bringing his prior 15 years of hospitality experience to the resorts.

He was most recently Maintenance Manager at Melia Braco Village and engineering supervisor at Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort in Jamaica.

Staff Training and Incentive Program

Management rolled out an intensive customer service training program at the end of August that is ongoing and mandatory for each team member. The multi-faceted training program outlines every aspect of appropriate guest interaction.

To encourage staff to bring their A-game, an incentive program is in place that rewards team members if a guest shares a positive interaction or experience.

Team members are also rewarded based on the number of mentions and shout-outs received on internal CSQ (Client Satisfaction Questionnaire) that guests submit post-travel.

Sonesta Resorts St. Maarten is continuing to improve its overall operation in every department and is confident that with this stellar team in place, it will not only elevate guests’ vacation experience but also exceed expectations of travelers to the destination.

SOURCE: Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten press release

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