Rosewood Resorts is taking its time in finding Caneel Bay’s next managing director to ensure the candidate they hire is a perfect fit.
The resort’s former managing director, Rik Blyth, left the resort to take a job as the president of the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association in March, and Caneel Bay Resort Manager Nikolay Hotze is acting as the managing director until the position is filled.
“It’s a very important post to fill,” said James McBride, regional vice president of Rosewood Resorts, which manages Caneel Bay. “You have to find the right balance of a professional who passionately wants to live here. The chemistry has to be right.”
Rosewood expects to have a new managing director in place in time for the 2007-2008 tourist season, explained McBride. “We are looking at both internal candidates and external candidates, but we’re not in an extraordinary rush,” he said. “The hotel is in good hands right now. We hope to have someone in place no later than September, so they can get their feet wet before season.”
McBride believes Blyth will succeed in his new position as VIHTA president, he explained.
“I think Rik’s got a great opportunity — he’s still involved in hotels, but he can enjoy his weekends,” said McBride. “I think he’s very fortunate, and he’ll do a fine job in his new role.”
Whoever is chosen to fill the role of Caneel’s managing director will be faced with the challenge of balancing Rosewood’s desire to keep Caneel founder Laurance Rockefeller’s vision of an eco-resort alive, while keeping up with the latest technology.
“Any changes have to fall into what we think Rockefeller would have done,” said McBride. “We have to be respectful to the past. We have to preserve it and continue to improve it.”
Balancing the past and the future can be a challenge, the Rosewood regional vice president explained.
Preserving Past While Modernizing
“We always try to preserve the past while modernizing where appropriate,” McBride said. “We have constant debates about whether to put telephones in the rooms.”
Technology did win out during a recent debate, explained McBride.
“We are working on making wireless available,” he said. “It’s something we’ll have done by the end of the year.”
Other upcoming improvements at Caneel include upgrading the current fitness center into a spa, installing new air conditioning and enhancing the resort’s kitchens.
“We are also looking at the mushroom lighting,” said Hotze. “Those lights are original, and we don’t want to change them too much, but they don’t look up to par anymore.”
The room renovations, which began last year, will be completed later this year as well.
Working on Extending Lease
With Caneel’s lease set to expire in 2023, one may wonder why the resort is spending so much money on enhancing and renovating the property.
“Spending $1 million on enhancing the fitness center into a spa is different than spending $10 million for a space-age spa — you won’t get a return on that,” said McBride. “We are diligently working on getting the lease extended, and we’re optimistic that we’ll be able to achieve that. We want to continue to create more jobs and make Caneel a preferred employer.”
Many would argue that Caneel has already achieved the status of preferred employer — more than 60 percent of the resort’s employees have been there for more than 20 years, according to Hotze.
Caneel will stay true to its roots while accommodating its guests, some of whom are the fourth generation of their family to enjoy the resort, McBride explained.
“Future Always Exciting”
“The future is always exciting for Caneel,” he said. “It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of real estate in the world. We must always enhance it and embrace the people who have been here for many years.”
“There are good people here, with wonderful souls, who care so much about Caneel,” McBride added. “It’s lovely to see.”