Dear Editor: When will government level with us about this Sandals business?

“[…] So where are we going to put Sandals and why the smoke and mirrors?

“Unpatriotic and foolish? I guess I am. But every citizen has the duty to oppose its government when being misled…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the issue of the ever-changing information regarding the Sandals project was submitted to Wired868 by Orson Rogers of Belmont:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters, on 27 September 2019.
(Copyright AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

Four years ago in Tobago, (29 October, 2017), Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley described those against the Sandals project as unpatriotic. Now, on Tuesday 17 August 2021, those against Sandals were ‘downright foolish’.

Based on the facts, I guess I am foolish and unpatriotic. But FACTS don’t change.

First, Sandals was going to purchase land (the location kept changing) and build the hotel. Then my tax dollars were going to purchase the land and build the hotel (I guess according to Sandals’ specs) and have the Sandals brand name on it.

Then on October 23 2018, Dr Rowley stated that the ‘resort will be owned by the government but operated and marketed by the Sandals brand’. This sounded like Sandals is taking no risk except to its name which, I am sure, it can withdraw if T&T does not live up to the contract arrangements.

Now, it has been reported that Sandals Resorts International ‘is exploring options to accelerate the company’s long-term growth and development plans’, including selling the company to a new owner. Reuters has reported that the Caribbean resort operator has hired investment bank Deutsche Bank AG to ‘explore several options, including a sale of a majority stake in the company’.

Photo: Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young (centre) with Sandals deputy chairman Adam Stewart and CEO Gebhard Rainer.

In addition, hospitality heavyweights Sandals Resorts International and Marriott International will soon team up to bring boutique lifestyle brand AC Hotels by Marriott to the Caribbean. Sandals has announced that the partnership will begin with the 220-room AC Kingston.

In fact, far from looking for a buyer, it has been searching for favourable financing on Wall Street to expand its brand name product. According to chief executive officer Adam Stewart, Sandals is now looking to build as many as a dozen new hotels, the biggest expansion in its history.

“We’re open to taking on more debt to build more than one hotel at a time. We want to build three or four hotels a year,” Stewart told Bloomberg. “We are trying to look for bigger capital to grow. We know exactly what to do and how to do it. But up until now, we’ve been restricted by the balance sheet of regional banks.”

And guess what? T&T plans to contribute to that capital. Sandals will be paid a fee for branding and marketing without taking any risk. Most of the airlift is into Trinidad and we have a less than reliable air bridge.

Guess what happens when clients cannot get to Tobago the same day? Maybe we will expand/improve the air bridge (pipe dreams?).

Photo: The Sandals Resort in Antigua.

Government should also let the populace know that the state enterprise which has responsibility for both the Trinidad Hilton & Conference Centre and the Magdalena Grand is e Teck; its line ministry is Trade & Industry. Also, the state enterprise which has responsibility for the Hyatt Regency is UDECOTT; its line ministry is NOT Trade & Industry but Housing & Urban Development!

So where are we going to put Sandals and why the smoke and mirrors?

Unpatriotic and foolish? I guess I am. But every citizen has the duty to oppose its government when being misled.

“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

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  1. I spoke about Sandals seeking funding for an IPO years ago. I spoke about the unique geological issues of the proposed Sandals site. I spoke about the off-shore currents and how “floating” bungalows would affect the west coast of Tobago and the viability of the Buccoo Reef. I spoke on the curious inconsistencies of the first presser and the last MOU and the lack of detail in the MOU. I spoke on how No Man’s Land is a very particular type of geological formation and how any interference with it is likely to lead to its destruction.
    How did I know all these things?
    I paid attention to what is going on in the published media and have the ability to apply simple mathematical logic: 1+1 will not give you 11
    Time to stop the politics of mamaguy and change the game to one of transparency ad accountability.

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