At (last) week’s post-Cabinet press briefing on Tuesday, 17 January, Minister for Health Nickolas Steele made a number of misleading statements pertaining to the Grenadian by Rex Resorts and the requirements outlined in our 99-year lease with the Government.
The Minister’s most recent comments suggest he may not be familiar with the terms of the agreement. In fact, we remain current on all obligations and in many cases have exceeded other requirements outlined in the lease agreement.
Rex Resort’s continued commitment to the people of Grenada, our valued employees, and our new and returning guests remains as strong today as it was when we signed our lease with the Government a quarter-century ago.
Rex Resorts has outlined in specific detail to the Government a US$12 million property enhancement plan on which we are prepared to commence immediately – further demonstrating our commitment to this property and the people of Grenada.
This plan was conducted by an expert, third-party consultancy that visited Grenada on several occasions over the past few months.
Below we take a closer look at and respond in turn to some of (the) claims made by the Minister:
Minister Steele Claim: “The first step is in the acquisition. It’s not one that we wanted to take, you do remember I came forward to say that we wanted them to come to the table. The first moves to threaten, or bring acquisition on to the table, was in an effort to bring them to the table, to do the necessary development work, to meet the conditions of their contract to continually expand.”
Rex Resorts is current on all terms outlined in the lease agreement signed with the Government on 29 July, 1991.
That agreement reads in part the following:
* The Tenant hereby COVENANTS with the Landlord as follows: at its own cost to erect upon the Demised Premises a Complex which shall comprise in phase 1 an Hotel of not less than One Hundred (100) guest bedrooms served by ancillary facilities including lobby areas banquet and dining facilities bars lounges offices kitchen and service areas and which may include at the option of the Tenant swimming pools tennis courts motor vehicle parking areas landscaping and any other buildings and facilities required by the Tenant for the efficient operation of an international hotel and the comfort convenience and use of its guests management and staff.
In December 1993, Rex opened a 212 room hotel with all of the amenities of an international hotel including: swimming pool, gym, tennis courts, water sports, three restaurants, three bars, conference facilities, and a vendor’s market – exceeding the terms set by the lease.
While Rex Resorts has made a number of subsequent investments in the property, at no point in the lease agreement with Government does it state that Rex Resorts must “continually expand,” though Rex continuously evaluates the market for expansion opportunities to meet our guests needs.
Guests who have stayed at the Grenadian by Rex Resorts rate the hotel with four out of five stars onTripAdvisor, an internationally recognised hotel review forum. Air Canada Vacations – an important airlift partner for Grenada – also rates the Grenadian with four out of five stars.
Minster Steele Claim: That property needs a lot more than $12 million to upgrade… we can all see with our own eyes that the property needs a lot more than $12 million.
Rex Resorts retained an expert, third-party international real estate consultancy to perform a top-to-bottom review of the Grenadian hotel. After several trips to Grenada, a plan was developed and communicated to Government.
That plan includes the following:
*Doubling of the size of the conference and banqueting facilities (Architectural plans are already finalized);
*Refurbishing all guest bedrooms to a high-end 4-star standard;
*Renovating public areas, including lobby, main restaurant, lounge area, and courtyard café;
*Construction of a new spa, gym and wellness centre; and a
*New kids club area.
Over the past few years, Rex has invested more than US$4 million in property enhancements, including a US$1.3 million enhancement to the resort’s swimming pool complex and outdoor restaurant facility. This project generated local jobs and was led by local contractor TVA Consultants.
The Grenadian is one of only two resorts on the island capable of hosting large events and international conferences, and is much more accommodating to local residents on the Island than other resorts.
*In the past few years, The Grenadian has hosted over 75 conferences and groups on-site, with over 3,000 rooms booked to service these events. Representatives of the United Nations have contracted with Rex to hold several prominent regional conferences and meetings at the hotel.
*The Grenadian has become the resort of choice for a number of world-famous individuals and organisations, including recently hosting the English National Cricket Team in April 2015 and the Grenada Cricket Association’s award ceremony in February 2016, an event attended by Prime Minister Mitchell.
*Year after year, the Grenadian hosts medical professionals from St. George’s University during their annual medical and veterinarian conferences, a partnership that has benefitted both the hotel and Grenada’s most prominent educational institution.
Minster Steele Claim: I can say that Government’s initiative to acquire the property is to ensure that the property serves the public interest to maximum benefit of the people of Grenada.
The Grenadian by Rex has always maintained a policy of extending special rate discounts to Grenadian citizens when possible, making events and conferences at the resort more affordable and accessible to local citizens.
The Grenadian employs over 100 unionised staff, the vast majority of whom are Grenadian, and was recently recognised by the government for being the most outstanding apprenticeship provider in the private sector on the Island. During the construction phase, 230 Grenadians were hired to build the resort.
Since the beginning of the Grenadian Government’s New IMANI Programme, the Grenadian by Rex Resorts has trained more than 60 young Grenadians through its apprenticeship programme in a variety of areas including: front office, accounting, food & beverage, housekeeping and have employed 25 of them on a full time basis.
The Grenadian maintains close working relationships with a number of local suppliers, including CK’s Supermarket, Jonas Brown, George F Huggins, and the Grenada Breweries; spending more than $4.7 million annually on local food, beverages and operating supplies.
As demonstrated above, Rex Resorts is committed to enhancing the Grenadian, has invested significant capital in the property over the past 25 years, with plans to invest US$12 million more this year; and is in full-compliance with the terms of the lease agreement with Government.
Like the commitment we made to Grenada in 1987 when we began discussions with the Government to build this beautiful resort, we remain committed to this island and hope the current Government will honour the lease agreement in the same spirit that Rex has for the past 25 years.