Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen has announced that the Grenadian by Rex Resort has been sold to Sunwing Travel Group of Canada.
Speaking to reporters at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministerial Complex at the Botanical Gardens, the minister dropped hints that the legal battle between the Government of Grenada and the Rex Resort has seemingly come to an end with the sale of the property.
There has been no statement made by the operators of Rex about the sale of the hotel.
Proprietors of the 172-room Resort took the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government to court to prevent them from acquiring the property which was operating under a 99-year lease agreement.
Government moved to take over the hotel after complaining that the property was not being fully maximized.
In 2016, the Rex owners filed an injunction to prevent the acquisition from going through and the matter is still listed as being before the high court for adjudication.
In announcing the sale of the hotel property, Modeste-Curwen told reporters that the legal matter “no longer exists”.
When asked if there was an amicable solution between government and the proprietors, she was very cautious with her response.
She said: “That is my interpretation, I haven’t asked the legal people, they might prove me wrong but I am just looking at logic. Our matter in the court was that government was not satisfied that that location was being used to its maximum. There have been quality hotels that have been asking for that property and so it was not about government against Rex, it was government looking for the best solution, the best management of that property.”
“The matter went to court and it has been delayed for years…so I am happy that it’s over and the issue was whether government would acquire that property and Rex did not want that. So, now that the property is no longer in question, is sold, I would like to think that the legal issue has been put to rest but I must say that the legal people did not tell me that, I used my judgment, I could be wrong”.
A well-placed government legal source told this newspaper that as far as he is aware the Rex matter is still pending before the high court.
Minister Modeste-Curwen was unable to give information to reporters on the purchase agreement between Rex and Sunwing.
However, she said that she was looking forward to the number of rooms that will be built and the job opportunities that will be provided for Grenadians.
“The arrangement is between the owners of Rex and the purchasers who are Sunwing. We are not privy to this information. What I was sent was a press release to say that Sunwing has purchased and that was confirmed by persons who are involved with Sunwing but the details of how much and so on, I am not privy to. What interested me more though would be to know what brand we’re getting, how many rooms we’re getting”, she said.
“I called someone that I knew was involved with Sunwing and they have assured me that the owner, the senior person, will be coming into Grenada within the next week so that we can discuss…”, she added.
The minister went on: “We’re looking for that star rating, the higher the star, the better the jobs. We’re willing to work with them and they will be coming to meet with the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and myself”.
An article on sunwingtravelgroup.com dated October 2nd alluded only to a partnership concerning the Rex property at Point Salines along with five other properties in the Caribbean.
The article said that the Grenadian by Rex Resort will be trademarked as “Starfish Grenada Resort.”
It quoted “Sunwing Travel Group as saying that the Group’s hotel division would begin operating six of Rex Resorts’ Caribbean hotels as part of a newly formed strategic alliance, effective December 01, 2018.
“As part of this landmark agreement, Sunwing’s growing hotel division plans to make significant improvements to each of the resorts over the coming years”, the release said.
It continued, “The six Rex Resorts will be absorbed within two of the hotel division’s brands: the new luxury boutique hotel collection, Mystique Resorts and the popular mid-market chain, Starfish Resorts.
Mystique Royal St. Lucia will be the second addition to the Mystique Resorts brand, with the first opening later this month in Holbox, Mexico. The Starfish Resorts brand will see five new additions: Starfish Discovery Bay Resort, Barbados; Starfish Halcyon Cove Resort, Antigua, Starfish St. Lucia Resort, St. Lucia, Starfish Grenada Resort, Grenada and Starfish Tobago Resort, Tobago”.