At a recent post-cabinet press briefing, Grenada’s Minister for Health Nickolas Steele has yet again made a number of misleading statements related to The Grenadian by Rex Resorts and its 99-year lease with the government, which the government is seeking to terminate unilaterally and effectively expropriate the property.
It seems clear from the minister’s most recent comments that he is still not familiar with the terms of the lease agreement, as Rex Resorts remains current on all terms and has met or exceeded the requirements outlined in the lease agreement.
In particular, here are some of claims made by Steele:
Steele Claim: “It took three years, three years of us begging and asking and pleading. And then we have seen within those three years other hotels of similar size open with a five star rating, high
• FACT. Steele’s statement is completely false. No new hotel has opened in Grenada in the last three years. In fact, at least one hotel that operated on land leased from the government has failed and closed. The Flamboyant hotel closed in 2016. There is no indication that the government has sought to acquire that hotel.
• FACT. Rex Resorts had already commenced refurbishing the hotel and has completed an upgrade of the pool complex and adjoining restaurant.
Following this, in 2015 Rex Resorts engaged an architect, Nigel Renwick, to work on plans for the rest of the hotel, with the conference facilities being the next phase. The upgrading has therefore long been underway.
• FACT. Also contrary to Minister’s comments, Grenadian by Rex Resorts had not received any official notice from the government in the last three years regarding the condition of the hotel, prior to the attempt to acquire the hotel under the Land Acquisition Act in early 2016. Rex Resorts is current on all terms outlined in the lease agreement signed with the government on 29 July 1991:
*The Landlord hereby COVENANTS with the Tenant as follows: that the Tenant paying the rent herein before reserved and performing and observing the covenants conditions and agreements on the part of the Tenant herein before contained shall peaceably hold and enjoy the Demised Premises for the term hereby granted without any interruption by the Landlord or any person lawfully claiming through under or in trust for the Landlord or by title paramount.
*This very point was recently highlighted in the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal judgment, where Justice Baptiste stated, “An interim conservatory order is hereby granted directing that the applicant (Rex Resorts) be permitted to continue to remain in possession of and to continue to operate the hotel known as the Grenadian by Rex Resorts, which the applicant built and owns, until the hearing and determination of the applicant’s appeal against the decision of Adrien-Roberts J delivered on 20th December 2016.”
• FACT. The Grenadian by Rex Resorts has a plan in place to enhance the property to a four-star standard and it has retained an international real estate consultancy to perform a top-to-bottom review of the hotel. That plan, which has been communicated to the government, includes a US$12 million investment:
*Doubling of the size of the conference and banqueting facilities.
Architectural plans are already finalised.
*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.
*New kids club area.
• FACT: 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.
Steele Claim: “And if you look at the TripAdvisor now, it’s positive, but it is talking about the staff – the Grenadian people that are there.”
• FACT. Guests of the Grenadian are greeted and serviced by a first-class staff. Rex Resorts said it takes great pride in hiring, training and retaining exceptional staff – it’s part of the company’s core values and culture. Additionally, as part of the Grenadian government’s New IMANI Programme, Rex Resorts has trained more than 60 young Grenadians through its apprenticeship programme in a variety of areas including: front office, accounting, food and beverage, housekeeping and has employed 25 of them on a full time basis.
• FACT. Rex Resorts said it places a high value on the quality of its service, while keeping rates affordable for guests, many of whom return to the resort year-after-year.
• FACT. Many of the reviews on TripAdvisor extensively detail guests’ satisfaction with the hotel’s accommodations and services including:
*“Just got back from the REX, with my wife and daughter – loved everything about this resort, please don’t change a thing. We stayed for 4 weeks and could not have been happier with our stay. We will be back soon bringing another family with us. Thank you REX for outstanding visit.” – Moe Howard, USA, January 2017
*“This resort is very beautiful, the surroundings are well kept, clean, lots of walking space and family oriented. This is the second time I have stayed at a Rex Resort hotel and they never provided anything less than wonder service.” – Trini – Karri, Trinidad & Tobago, January 2017
Steele Claim: “When a hotel moves from a three star hotel or two star hotel to a five star hotel, one of the first things they must do is increase the guests to employee ratio –first thing they must do. That is what we want them to do, that is what we have been begging them to do since we first came into government.”
• FACT. The Grenadian by Rex Resorts employs an award winning staff of about 100 unionised employees that service its 212 rooms with all of the amenities of an international hotel – exceeding the terms set by the lease with the government of Grenada in 1993. In other words, the Grenadian currently has about one employee for every two rooms and this quality of ervice does not go unnoticed by our guests, whom many will recognise and name in their reviews on TripAdvisor including:
*“The staff made you feel right at home. They are always smiling and treat you like family. As far as the bartenders, Charlene and Yolanda (they are) our favorites. They always take the best care of their guests. Also, Deslin who works in the restaurant was awesome, we love her. These three are irreplaceable, we received the best customer service at the Rex than any other hotel we have been to. We will definitely be back. Dont change a thing – it was perfect! We look forward to seeing our friends we met on our trip next year. All the best!” – TripAdvisor Contributor, January 2017
*“The hotel is managed by the excellent Arlene Marsh, who is very approachable and will move heaven and earth to sort out any issues you may have.” – TripAdvisor Contributor, England, December 2016
• FACT. The Grenadian by Rex Resorts was designed to attract guests who are seeking all the surroundings and service of a world class accommodation at an affordable rate. While its service certainly rivals any five-star resort on the island, its accommodations were built and have been maintained at a three to four-star standard.
Steele fails to recognise that many guests to Grenada prefer this hotel to others on the island because of the affordability that the hotel offers them at a five-star service level. We cater to a certain demographic but the high return rates of guests prove that guests appreciate and celebrate the Grenadian by Rex Resorts.
Steele Claim: “When you read those TripAdvisor reviews about the Rex, they are talking about value for money. That implies to me that ‘based upon what I paid, I’m okay with the accommodations. That’s not what we want in Grenada, that’s not what the Grenadian people deserve, they deserve much better.”
• FACT. Steele’s statements fail to acknowledge that not all tourists visiting Grenada are on the same budgetary allowances necessary to stay at the most expensive hotel. The Grenadian by Rex Resorts offers guests a valuable experience at a price point that attracts middle class guests to Grenada. Our guests continuously voice their support and satisfaction for our hotel’s accommodations and service, which ultimately led the hotel to win the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and have a partnership with Air Canada Vacations.
The Grenadian tourism industry should welcome guests of all income levels and not systematically discriminate against those who may not be able to afford the most expensive hotels on the island.
• FACT. Tourism Minister Dr. Clarice Modeste – at the same post-cabinet briefing as Steele – issued the following statement regarding the Grenadian by Rex Resorts, and its place on the Spice Isle:
*“Rex Grenadian also received an award for excellence in services. And so, this is not just a reflection of infrastructure, it is a reflection of our people, of the friendliness and the quality of services that they provide – and so I say commendations to those who would have provided the excellent service so that we can have that recognition as well.”