Sunset Shores – The History
The name Sunset Shores was aptly chosen, because from the beachfront property one can view the setting sun each evening and relax, listening to the waves of the Caribbean Sea gently lap on the shores of Villa Beach.
On February 20, 1914, Joseph Anthony Gonsalves and his wife Emma Elizabeth Gonsalves (nÃ©e Gibson) bought a few acres along Villa Beach and it became the site of the family home, where their six children would be born. The family farmed land on the other side of the road, and Joseph also operated a blacksmith shop in Arnos Vale. As the children grew to adulthood, they would leave St Vincent to pursue promised opportunities abroad. Despite the distance between them, the family stayed close and they never lost their love for St Vincent. In the early 70s, the youngest son presented his vision for the family to build a new hotel in St Vincent. The beach hotel would be built in a U-shape, where all rooms would overlook a garden courtyard and the sea, with a magnificent view of the Grenadines.
Financing such a facility posed a challenge, so the brothers and sisters, who were enthralled with the idea, pooled their resources and with the help of loans from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Barclays Bank, and St Vincent Co-operative Bank, the vision became a reality. The precise building site was carefully chosen to preserve the water well and many large fruit trees that had stood proudly along the beach and at other locations on the property since before the children were born. Stones from the family homestead would be used as decorative wall features in the (original) 20 rooms.
The hotel would be named Sunset Shores, aptly chosen, because from the beachfront property one can view the setting sun each evening and relax, listening to the waves of the Caribbean Sea gently lap on the shores of Villa Beach. The hotel opened its doors for business in February 1973. Five years later, a fresh water pool was added to the courtyard. In 1989, the hotel added 12 rooms, bringing the total to 32, plus a facility for conferences. In 1998, two peaked terraces were built on top of the original pool bar and poolside showers, and the roof of the dining area was extended to allow for outside dining. The bar was relocated to one of the terraces to overlook the pool courtyard and sea.
At its inception, the hotel was managed by a Canadian couple, who were experienced hoteliers. By year two, they had established a good foundation upon which the business would grow. At that time, the youngest daughter of the family and her husband decided to return to St Vincent to manage the family business. They did this for 18 years. It was during this period that Sunset Shores earned the reputation of being one of the best hotels in St Vincent.
In 1998, when the hotel celebrated its 25th anniversary, the familyâs eldest sonâs nephew and wife were managing the business. At that time, the hotel was a favourite among repeat business travellers, but its beachfront location and charm also appealed to the vacationer. Fifty per cent of its guests were tourists and 50 per cent were business people.
The hotel was also a favourite weekend drop-in place for locals, where live poolside entertainment could be enjoyed on a regular basis.