A bitter legal battle is in the making between the Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s and the owners of The Grenadian by Rex Resorts at Point Salines.
In an unprecedented move, Mitchell’s 3-year old New National Party (NNP) administration has reportedly served notice in the Government Gazette that it had revoked the 99-year old lease given to the hotel to operate on crown land.
The Rex filed legal papers in the Supreme Court Registry on Friday seeking to challenge the decision of government which is also locked in a bitter battle with a local group over its intention to hand over the Camerhogne Park to a hotel developer.
Speculation is rife that the Mitchell-led government is planning to give the lands occupied by Rex to a foreign concern based in Canada.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that the owners of the Rex are putting together a high-powered team to engage the administration in St. George’s in what could be a long and protracted legal and Public Relations battle.
“We are deeply disappointed by the government’s stated attempt to unilaterally seize the Grenadian, especially when we are in full-compliance with the terms of our lease and up-to-date on all payments and taxes owed to the government”, said Richard Bryson, CEO of Rex Resorts, while commenting on an affidavit filed Friday by the hotel in connection with the upcoming court battle.
He also said: “On behalf of our unionised workforce, loyal customers, international airline partners and owners, we intend to fight this deeply misguided action using all remedies and recourse available.
“Our firm was the first international hotel operator to invest in Grenada, an investment that was made 25 years ago at a difficult time in this country’s history, and long before others saw the tremendous beauty and opportunity that we did then, and still do today”, he added.
The Rex came to Grenada during the 1990-95 rule of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite.
As part of its public relations campaign, the hotel has issued the following statement on its operations in Grenada:
*The hotel currently employs over 100 people and has paid every lease payment due to the government.
*The hotel is also current on all taxes and has contributed millions to the local economy.
*Rex Resorts has been a sound corporate citizen and neighbour since opening our doors in 1993. We continue to invest significant resources in modernising the property and fully intend to fight this action so that we can continue to serve our guests and the community at large for decades to come.”
*Lease payments, taxes and fees paid to the government since 2013: $4.9 million
*Amount invested to renovate and improve the property since 2013: $4 million
*Wages, salaries, staff meals and benefits: $2.4 million per year
*Expenditures to local vendors for food, beverages and operating supplies: $4.7 million per year
*Current amount in back- or past-due taxes owed to the government: $0.00
*Until the arrival of Sandals, Rex Resorts was the only foreign hotel investor in Grenada. We invested $45.4 million to build an all-inclusive resort and opened our doors for the first time in December 1993.
*The Grenadian employs over 100 unionized 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.
*The Grenadian by Rex has settled every lease payment due to the government since opening, and is currently up to date on all tax and fee obligations.
*The government recently certified in writing that the hotel currently owes nothing in back- or past-due taxes.
*The Rex Grenadian will pay $540,000 to the Grenadian government this year as rent for the property on which the hotel resides.
*In an exclusive partnership with Rex Resorts, Air Canada began year-round flights to Grenada in 2015, bringing thousands of new tourists to the island and generating significant economic activity during the off-season months.
*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.
*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 locals 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 students from St. George’s University, a partnership that has benefitted both the hotel and Grenada’s most prominent educational institution.
*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 locals.