At a press briefing following Cabinet on 8 March 2016, Minister of Agriculture Roland Bhola made a number of statements pertaining to the Grenadian by Rex Resorts and Government’s attempt to unilaterally seize the property. While the Honorable Minister is certainly entitled to his opinion, some of his remarks run counter to the actual lease agreement (attached) between Rex Resorts and the Government of Grenada. Below we take a closer look at a few claims made by Minister Bhola during yesterday’s press briefing:
Bhola Claim: “The concessions that was given to them [Rex Resorts] during the construction phase and for operation of the facility indicated that it must be run – and as a matter of fact – the initial argument would be that it would be a five star hotel. It is maybe a two and a half stars, but not five, so they have not done that.”
•FACT: The lease agreement between Rex and Government, signed on 29 July, 1991, states 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 managements and staff.
•FACT: Less than two years later, 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.
•FACT: Year after year, the Grenadian by Rex has been recognized by Trip Advisor, Monarch Travel and international newspapers as a quality resort destination for international travelers.
The United Kingdom’s largest newspaper, The Daily Mirror, calls The Grenadian “a perfect Caribbean experience:” “This beachfront hotel has a relaxed, colonial feel with long verandas, wicker chairs and plenty of rum punches! Near St George’s, you’ll be able to play croquet on the lawn, sunbathe under a palm tree and go snorkeling – a perfect Caribbean experience.”
•FACT: In an exclusive partnership with Rex, 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.
•FACT: While we are proud of our facility and work diligently to provide our guests with an affordable all-inclusive experience, at no point in the lease agreement is there a requirement to maintain a five star resort. We take great pride in offering our guests an affordable experience and have brought thousands of tourists to Grenada that otherwise may not have traveled great distances for not a reasonably priced accommodations.
Bhola Claim: “They basically operate the facility as a hostel, now you hardly have any tourists or anything going, it’s just students from SGU, so as dorms, they just use it as dorms. The entire facility is rundown.”
•FACT: The Grenadian is currently at 88 percent occupancy.
•FACT: 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.
Victoria Dean, High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, commenting on a recent visit by the British Prime Minister, which included events at The Grenadian:
“Thank you for your assistance in ensuring that these elements of the Prime Minister’s visit ran smoothly and for working with my team to ensure that all of our requirements were met. Please pass on my particular thanks to Tessa Richardson who assisted us with our numerous requirements, and to all other members of your team who helped to make our stay enjoyable.”
Elizabeth Henry-Greenidge, Organizer of the UK-Caribbean Forum: “Your exemplary service contributed to the overall success of this Conference and our Special Guests went away with special memories of the warm hospitality of the Spice Isle.”
•FACT: The Grenadian has become the resort of choice for a number of world-famous individuals and organizations, 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.
•FACT: It is true that the Grenadian by Rex hosts medical doctors each year from St. George’s University – a partnership that has benefitted both the hotel and Grenada’s most prominent educational institution. It is also true that for a six month period in 2015 (August-December), due to the fact that St. George’s Medical School overbooked their incoming class of first year students, we provided accommodations to some of these students at the University’s request. The Medical School is a vital part of the Grenadian economy and we were happy to assist them on this occasion. Bhola Claim: “This is the hotel, if you do the research, that has had the most turnover more frequently of staff, the staff members that are totally dissatisfied. The unions have been crying out. The hotel association has been saying that if this facility continues to operate as a hotel, it is an embarrassment to Grenada.”
•FACT: Government recently recognized the Grenadian’s outstanding apprenticeship program: “Since the beginning of the New Imani Programme, the Grenadian by Rex Resorts has trained more than 60 young people. Human Resource manager, Joan Gilbert says participants have been trained in a variety of areas including: bartending, serving and delivering excellent customer service. Gilbert says she is happy that the company could assist in training young people and enabling them to compete anywhere in the world.”
•FACT: The Grenadian by Rex has been a long-standing member of the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA), with one member of the hotel’s management team sitting on the Board of Directors. No such public claims have been made by the GHTA, and the Rex Grenadian is confident in its standing and commitment to the association and proud of the Rex Resort’s legacy as the first international investor in hotel’s since it opened its doors in 1993. Bhola Claim: “This same managers and hotel Rex has facilities in Antigua as well as St. Lucia. And they have been experiencing very similar things like what we have been experiencing here in Grenada.”
•FACT: Dr. Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of St. Lucia commenting on a recent Rex Resort hotel renovation in St. Lucia: “I am indeed exceedingly pleased at this development, the renovation and reopening of the Papillon property. And I am pleased, not merely because it reflects the confidence that Rex Resorts repose in the future of tourism, but also because this is good news for the dozens of St. Lucians who are employed at the Papillon.”
Bhola Claim: “Years has elapsed and passed, nothing has happened. As a matter of fact, instead of improving, they continue to deteriorate, yes? So the government then said to them, we have to do something, this is a prime facility and here is what we do.”
•FACT: Since 2013, Rex has invested more than $4 million to renovate and improve the property.
•FACT: In 2013, Rex completed a $1.3 million enhancement to the resort’s swimming pool complex and outdoor restaurant facility. This project generated dozens of local jobs and was led by local contractor TVA Consultants. Additional renovation and enhancement projects are currently under consideration.
•FACT: 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. Under the terms of the lease agreement, the landlord (Government) has the right to enter and inspect the property. If the landlord determines the facility is not being maintained in accordance with the lease, they have the right, under the terms of the lease agreement, to require the tenant (Rex Resorts) to make the required repairs. To-date, Government has not, in writing, as required by the lease, specified any repairs to the property. From the lease agreement: •To permit the Landlord during the term herby granted at all reasonable times to enter upon the Demised Premises and every part thereof to examine the state and condition of the same and thereupon the Landlord may serve
upon the Tenant’s notice in writing specifying any repairs necessary to be done to keep or put the Demised Premises in tenantable repair and require the Tenant to execute the same and if the Tenant shall not within One Hundred and Eighty (180) days after the service of such notice commence and thereafter proceed diligently with the execution of such repairs then to permit the Landlord to enter upon the Demised Premises and execute such repairs and the cost thereof shall be a debt due from the Tenant to the Landlord and be forthwith recoverable by action.
Importantly, and as demonstrated above, Rex is committed to enhancing The Grenadian, has invested significant capital in the property over the past 25 years and is in full-compliance with the terms of the lease agreement with Government. Like our commitment to Grenada in 1987 when we began discussions with the Government to build this beautiful all- inclusive resort, we remain committed to this island and hope the current government will honor the lease agreement in the same spirit that Rex has for the past 25 years.