The media in St. Vincent and the Grenadines were invited and also as quickly uninvited to an event that Sandals Resort International is having today (Monday) to explain its vision for former Buccament Bay Resort.
One of the questions that the media might have had at the event is whether Sandals has paid the balance for the resort, the 90-day period having expired on Oct. 22.
On July 22, when the government signed a deal with Sandals for the take over of the resort, the government announced that Sandals had paid down 10% of the US$17.5 million (about EC$47 million) for the resort.
The balance was expected to be paid within 90 days, Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves had told the media then.
That 90-day period expired on Oct. 22.
The Unity Labour Party government has acquired the resort, which has been closed since December 2016, and is selling it to Sandals, which would operate a Beaches Resort there.
On Thursday, Invest SVG sent an email inviting the media “to provide coverage of a special presentation by a delegation from the Sandals/Beaches group from Jamaica”.
The email said Sandals would be “presenting their vision for the Buccament Bay site” and that the event would take place at Buccament Bay today, from noon to around 2 p.m.
“We would greatly appreciate it if your media house would send representatives. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me. We would also appreciate it if you can confirm whether you will be in attendance or not,” the email said.
However, on Friday, Invest SVG sent a second email, saying, “… we unfortunately will not be able to accommodate the media (and several other previously invited persons) at this event because of time constraints and a shift in focus of the event.
“We apologise for this inconvenience, and we do appreciate your usual cooperation in providing us with media coverage!”
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told the launch of the ULP’s manifesto on Sunday that Sandals has paid the deposit and will present to the Cabinet, at noon today, “their more detailed physical proposals”.
He said the project is US$100 million but did not say whether Sandals had paid in full for the resort.
The US$17.5 million that Sandals is paying the government is for the former Buccament Bay Resort as well as additional land in the area, including those that the state is taking from farmers and selling to the resort.
In July, after the deal was announced, Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday welcomed the announcement but said he would like to know the details of the deal.
“There is some, too much opaqueness, not enough transparency about it,” he said, adding that his New Democratic party would like to see the reopening of the resort.
Also in July, Gonsalves told iWitness News that Sandals had asked the government not to disclose its timeline for opening the new property.
“Sandals has shared a timeline with us. But they have asked us not to disclose it at this time, given the uncertainties related to COVID,” the minister said.
He, however, said that the Beaches Resort will employ 700 Vincentians and purchase 700,000 pounds of produce locally.