Nearly two years ago, there was talk that an Egyptian billionaire, Naguib Sawairis was planning to build three five-star hotels along the world famous Grand Anse beach in the south of the island.
The hotels were being lined up for the Silver Sands area of the beach, another at the compound owned by St. George’s University (SGU) on the beach and the other at the beach front property once controlled by the Nyack family of St. Patrick.
It appears that Sawairis is serious about building on the Silver Sands area that once had a hotel owned and operated by the late Eversley Gittens.
Last Monday, a ceremony was held to launch a luxury 70-room hotel at Silver Sands and those in attendance included Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and the Egyptian businessman himself.
Sawairis said that a team of world class professionals have been assembled to create a world class hotel to offer a world class experience “in what is becoming and will become a world class destination”.
He stated that the intention of the project is to make Grenada become one of the more desired islands to visit in the Caribbean and by extension the world.
“What we want to do with the hotel is first of all not to compete with any of the hotels that exist here because we are making friends with most of the hotel owners here especially the owner of Spice Island (Sir Royston Hopkin)”, he said.
“… What we try to do here, we try to do something very modern, very different for visiting clients – clients that go to St Barths or Barbados that think there’s nothing like this in Grenada”, he added.
According to the Egyptian business tycoon, he want to build a hotel that can be referred to as “ the luxury of luxuries” for the guests.
Referring to Grenada as “this nature blessed island”, Sawairis praised the Spice Isle for having kept its “safety and its originality” because this “is worthwhile” for the growth of the industry.
Don’t think we are only here to make a lot of money … we hope we wouldn’t lose money but it was not really the intention,” he remarked.
An elated Prime Minister Mitchell who was voted back into office nearly two years ago on a platform of jobs and foreign investors said that Grenada needed investment like the new Silver Sands project as this can only mean benefits for the country and its people.
“This is about developing our country, welcoming people who are serious about making this country a place desirous of everybody and that is what this Government is determined to do…”, he said.
“…Whatever we have to do we will do it and that is why … it is time we settle down. It’s time we unite our forces and bring some serious development to the country and when we unite our forces here, others will come because they realise this country is a country of a united people and that attraction with the stability and the peace that is prevailing in this country … we are seeing the difference…we have nothing to fear,” he added.
PM Mitchell was apparently reacting to those critics who are taking pot shots at his new relationship with old enemies like former Congress member, Peter David and veteran trade unionist, Chester Humphrey under a plan called “Project Grenada”.
The former expelled members of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that ruled the island from 2008 to 2013 have said they wanted to be “counted in” the plans unveiled by Mitchell’s ruling New National Party (NNP) to rebuild Grenada.
The current civil works being undertaken to prepare for construction of the Silver Sands hotel is to end by the middle of February.
Approximately 200 Grenadians are expected to be hired for construction work that is scheduled to begin in mid-April.
Sawairis has given assurances that the hotel would be built and ready “in the fastest way possible”.
“I am not a patient person. I’m a person who doesn’t like to wait for things in life so you can be assured that as fast as possible we will build this hotel…”, he said.
“…We want to build a hotel that will vanish in the nature, that will not stick four or five floors outside and look ugly. We want to build a hotel that people will feel that this is an addition to the island and is not taking from the value of the island and I promise you that we will do this as fast as it is possible,” he added.
The Egyptian billionaire confirmed reports circulating on the island that some luxury villas would also be built on the property.
He said the planned resort will have nine 9 villas in order to make the property stand out from the other hotels in Grenada.
Five of the villas will be erected along the beach front and the remaining four around the back, immersed among the vegetation.
The island’s leading hotelier, Sir Royston Hopkin, Owner of Spice Island Beach Resort who was at the launch of the new hotel welcomed the Egyptian investor to the island.
“I am very happy that they have launched this project…like everything else it takes some time – a lot of preparations but I am happy to have such a project here in Grenada and I think it’s going to be a tremendous benefit to all of us Grenadians”, he told THE NEW TODAY newspaper.
“…We need more hotel rooms and we need more hotel rooms of a high standard and they are pitching for a high standard … which will bring in the people with money into the country and people that come in with money, they have friends and associates…”, he said.
Newly appointed Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation, Yolande Bain-Horsford was also looking forward to the start of the physical construction of the hotel since she understands what a hotel of this magnitude can do for Grenada.
“I am very happy. This is an improvement on our tourism sector because we are looking at improving airlift so we have to have rooms, we have to have the environment developed so that we get the people coming to our shores”, she said.
“…I know that this project will bring about a number of jobs for our people and even our local farmers,” she told the newspaper.
THE NEW TODAY also spoke to Trade Union representative in the Upper house, Senator Ray Roberts about his optimism for the building of the Silver Sands Hotel under the Mitchell-led government.
He said: “It is a fact that this government seemingly have had more sod- turning ceremony maybe second to only La Qua in burying the dead. I believe that this one looks like it have some seriousness in it – the gentleman ( Sawairis) was very articulate, he wasn’t hiding as the others, so we get a sense that he is on the ground, he seems to be touching base with local people so it looks like something that will happen – whether it happens three months from now or six months from now I get the impression that there is some sincerity in what he is saying.
“…I am optimistic that unlike Ritz Carlton, the Four Seasons that never occurred and we had the same kind of ceremony, I get a feeling that this one will become a guarantee,” he added.
Speculation is rife that the cost of a room at the Silver Sands Hotel will be more than double the rates of existing hotels on the island as they try and target ”the elite of the elites”.