A look at Coconut Bay’s new renovations & charitable efforts

Ahead of its 19th anniversary, Saint Lucia’s Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa has announced a new charitable effort that will see it adopt the ABC Funhouse School — a local pre school educational centre.

Spearheaded by its charitable foundation, CocoLand Cares, the four year initiative will see the remodelling of the classroom for the next class of pre schoolers starting in Sept. 2024 with new furniture and flooring, as well as a bathroom refresh, exterior enhancements, new state-of-the- art classroom equipment and tools, and new playground furniture.

A phased approach

“Our adoption of the school will be a four-year project and will comprise of several phases starting this summer. The phase will include a complete remodel of the one and two year old learning areas,” said Gemma Edwin, finance manager for Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa. “Students entering in the fall of 2024 will be the first to enjoy the new facility.”

An official MOU was signed between by resort’s owner Gary “Butch” Hendrickson and a representative for the school.

“My mission is to start them as early as possible. A former minister of education in Jamaica once said start them right and then they’ll be bright. And that’s our goal here at Coconut Bay,” said Hendrickson.

For years, Cocoland Cares has distributed packages of learning materials to pre-schools across the island.

“As the mother of a child attending the ABC Funhouse and the manager of the kid’s club that welcomes our young international guests, I willingly serve on the CocoLand Cares committee and I treasure the idea that my contributions will influence the development of young minds including my own daughter,” added Mia Chin, sales and guest relations manager at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa.

Coco and Loco, the resort’s mascot coconuts, were also on hand for the announcement, as well as students from the ABC Funhouse School, who sang the national anthem prior to the press conference.

A new look coming soon

At the same time as the school is being transformed, changes are also underway at the resort, which is home to the family-friendly Splash wing and the adults-only Harmony wing.

All 250 rooms and Junior suites are being upgraded to include new furniture, flooring and spacious bathroom enhancements.

“Our newest addition is ongoing now. It’s a two-year project where we are renovating all 250 rooms across the resort,” said Natalia Greene, VP of sales and marketing for Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa. “That’ll be a pretty hefty investment.”

Nine rooms have already been transformed and a lot of work is expected to be done during the resort’s annual closure in September.

One of the newest fresh spaces is Peter John’s Lounge, a bar that’s known for its large collection of Saint Lucian Caribbean rums, which has a new look with new furniture and accessories, artwork and tables made from Chairman’s Reserve rum barrels.

Notably, there are now six oceanfront spa cabanas at the beachfront area for outdoor spa treatments. There were several cabanas previously but now they’ve doubled.

A bridal suite was also recently added for wedding parties to be able to get together as a group. Notably, Greene says they will only do one wedding per day.

Interestingly, the property used to be a Club Med before re-opening as an independently run venture in 2005. 

“I like to tell people that anyone who knew it as a Club Med does not know us as it stands now. It didn’t have a waterpark. When our owner bought it, he added a 15 ft seating area to each of the rooms, which gave us to the opportunity to have balconies on the upper floors and a seating area for the ground level rooms,” says Greene. “In addition to that, over the last 10 years we’ve put a significant amount of money into the resort and into products because we close every September. In those closures we’ve added pools, we’ve added restaurants, we’ve added bars, we’ve added a new wedding venue, a bridal suite.”

Making a splash in the community

CocoLand Cares and Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa have also donated much needed equipment to the pediatric wing at the local hospital including infant incubators and a cardiac monitor.

Now, the next phase includes assisting with upgrades to the emergency room facilities at Saint Jude’s Hospital.

“As the largest hospitality entity in the south, it is vital that we support the only health care facility that we have available to our staff and our guests,” said Chin. “Our next pledge beginning next month is assistance in refreshing and improving the emergency room facilities to include new paint, new wall paneling, new tracks and new curtains in the waiting areas.”

Interestingly, proceeds from the resort’s weekly lazy river rubber duck race also provide regular donations for supplies that are requested and needed.

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