By Demion McTair. Updated 4:27 p.m., Wednesday, July 22, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Sandals Resort International has signed an agreement with the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the establishment of a Beaches Resort brand at Buccament.
The agreement was signed today (July 22), at the property on which the now disused Buccament Bay Resort is located and where Beaches Resort will be established.
The project is expected to be completed in 18-months.
The Government of St. Vincent is transferring the 40 acres of land it owns to Sandals Resorts International for the USD $100 million investment.
Deputy Chairman of Sandals Resort International, Mr. Adam Stewart, says the property “will be transformed” and “will look a lot different”.
He says some 330 to 350 suites ranging from one bedroom to five bedrooms will be built and will offer a “multi-generational family experience”.
Mr. Stewart says St. Vincent and the Grenadines will mark the eight island in the Caribbean with a Sandals-branded resort.
He says the project will add 1,000 persons to the existing 14,000 team members it has. He says the project will bring accelerated airlift, training and development.
Finance minister, Camillo Gonsalves, says the Sandals deal was about four years in the making. He said that in 2016, he wrote a letter inviting Mr. Stewart, the deputy chairman of Sandals Resorts International to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
At the time, the Buccament Bay Resort was still operational but Mr. Stewart had inquired about the resort. Years after the resort was closed and after repeated investors backed off due to complexities surrounding the closed property, Sandals was approached again and negotiations began.
Gonsalves said based on the contract signed with Sandals and Beaches, more than 700 Vincentians will be employed when the resort becomes operational.
He said also that the contract opens the way for locally procured agriculture and fisheries products, so long as they are available in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 700,000 pounds of which are local fruits and vegetables needed annually.
The finance minister says that over 800 locals will be employed in the construction phase of the facility, and over 900 Vincentians will be employed when the facility is finished.
He says the facility will house 1,400 guests when full and Sandals and Beaches marketing will ensure some 10 billion references to St. Vincent and the Grenadines from international advertising.
The finance minister says that the resort will be the largest resort on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, one of the largest in the eastern Caribbean, and one of the largest revenue generator for the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Tourism Minister, Cecil McKie, says the investment is valued at some USD $100 million dollars.
He says Sandals is home grown in the Caribbean region and their investors “understand the issues and culture of the Caribbean”.
CEO of the SVG Tourism Authority, Glen Beache says that without the Argyle International Airport, “this would not take place”.
HARLEQUIN HOTELS AND RESORTS’ BUCCAMENT BAY RESORT
In December 2016, the privately-owned Buccament Bay resort, owned by Harlequin, was closed and went into receivership.
Finance minister, Camillo Gonsalves says that for the more than three and a half years during which the resort has been closed, several investors expressed an interest in acquiring the property.
He says that “all of the investors ran away when they realized the legal complexities involved” with the property.
He says that there were 51 villas and apartments individually owned by British investors, lands belonged to private individuals, there were no registered deeds for some lands, and title discrepancies, which made the situation complicated.
Hey says that by October 2019, the bankruptcy trustee for the project began to despair and were running out of funds to maintain the property. At the time, the government then got involved. Sandal’s team visited in January and Feburary 2020, several times and negotiations were advanced.
The negotiations period took four (4) years.
The project is estimated to take 18-months to complete.
Gonsalves thanked land owners and other stakeholders for their cooperation in the process.