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Sandals 2

By Observer

“… and if you catch them broken, you can get it all for nothing…” — Mighty Sparrow

The matter surrounding Sandals Resort has been making the rounds and may prove to be slightly more controversial in the long run, than we anticipate. It is compounded by what we see happening in Canouan.

Luke Boyea is right when he asked, more than once, on Hot97’s morning “chop up”, why haven’t the government confronted this issue up front and head on “like a man” and take the people intoi its confidence? Why was that not done? What local or foreign investor would invest in any project, only for it to attract the wrong attention, or be at the centre of controversy? No investor anywhere wants that; not when it could affect investment returns and damage an international brand like Sandals.

It is also potentially bad business for the country and the government. It certainly won’t be a welcoming sign for any potential investor looking on. What then could be the reason why the government has not met with the people for an understanding? The issue of beach access in front of the resort should have been addressed by the government with the people of the surrounding community, and the country by and large.

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Now, one may argue that there is nothing to discuss since all beaches are public; but it is clear from the images we’ve seen of the resort that it would be a challenge for locals to enter that portion of the beach though legally, they can. The fact that they can do so legally, is reason enough why it should have been addressed by the government one way or the other.

Canouan is enough of an example. Are we waiting for such an issue to flare up on Sandals’ white sands, only to have police drag relentless protesters off to jail in front of guests who would have paid thousands for an exclusive and tranquil experience? Maybe then SVG would get the attention that it’s seemingly craving. One witnessing guest might just be an international journalist, pissed off at the disturbance and disruption of an expensive getaway.  Perhaps this is the international acclaim that SVG is looking for.

Other thoughts:
For those guests who might be racially conscious and attentive; it might be interesting to see how they react to the fact that a native black sand beach was covered with white sand to present a more appealing product to visitors. That will be interesting when and if that revelation gets recorded. Those reviews should make for interesting read should word get out.

Anyone else noticing the depiction of the resort by the images presented and marketed to visitors? If you are not familiar with the South Leeward valley of Buccament, the impression you may gather from those images might be one of an exclusive and somewhat remote location. You might not gather that the resort compound borders the nearby village, which the images do not quite portray. If you look to the left of the river on these images, you might not gather that there is a village there. In case you have not checked, a seven-night stay in the opening month of the resort runs from about US$7,500 to over US$22,500 depending on the class of accommodation, and this is after discounts, which are more than half off. This also does not include airfare. 

No one pays this amount of money for what is supposed to be an exclusive and tranquil stay, to possibly listen to screaming kids at a nearby school, or to be awakened and entertained by good old early morning Vincy cuss out between neighbours; not to mention a good puff of smoke from a nearby coal pit. Who pays these kinds of prices to experience these things? Perhaps this is all part of the marketing strategy to depict the facility in such a way, but it would be very interesting to read the web reviews from persons who would be greeted by a surrounding that might be different from what is portrayed in a marketed sway.

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Economic gain:
Some questions are also being asked about the economic gain and the spill offs in the wider community; and those are fair questions. For those who may not know, the fees that we listed above include almost everything a guest would need, without having to leave the resort: “Unlimited fine dining at 12 restaurants”; “Breakfast, lunch, dinner and anytime snacks”; Unlimited wines and liquors; “5 bars, including swim-up bar”; “Stocked bars in every room”; fees include “all tips, taxes and gratuities”; “Non-Stop roundtrip airport transfers”; “Fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment”; “Day and night entertainment including live shows”; “Free WiFi (in room and all common areas)”; and more in-room inclusive offers.  

Clearly there is no need for any of the guests to leave the facility. They don’t even need a taxi from the airport. Resort workers may not even receive the level of tips that workers at other hotels receive. With 12 restaurants, and food already paid for, would there be appetite for local food outside of the resort? Let’s hope the bars would at least serve local drinks.

It is now left for the government and its tourism arm to be creative in the enticement of guests to engage in the local organic experience, but that is left to be seen.

Let’s hope Sparrow’s lyrics are not proving true for SVG. I would hate to think that an investor is having his/her way with SVG, having caught it broken. The questions Luke Boyea have been asking should be answered. Why haven’t the government met with the people? What exactly is the agreement between the government and the resort owners? Is Canouan not a convincing learning experience, or is it that there is nothing there to see?

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

9 replies on “Sandals  — Why I agree with Luke Boyea”

  1. I whole heartedly agree with your comments. Sandals are not publishing when they are keeping community meetings, and it would appear it is the same ole, same ole people who are privileged to know are the ones that get invited. I have tried to find out when meetings are taking place to no avail.  Because being a local resident there are a few questions I would like to raise. 

    I live spitting distance from the resort, and have seen the Sandals brochure, and you are correct the layout takes into account the main public beach. Even the way the have placed the boulders and curved them around the sea water, it is almost like they are locking off the beach access from foot, or by swimming across or around to that main beach area. 

    I recall when moving to this island 8 years ago, The then Buccament resort at one stage, had security placed on the local side of the beach.  On 2 occasions I was stopped, and questioned has to where I was going? Are you a guest? Are you visiting a guest etc,.

    Suffice to say I had to run the man with a flea inner him ears, and remind him that those intimidation tactics would not stop me from going on a public beach. The beach is open to one and all.

    I do hope and trust that Sandals will not be undertaking, any such foolishness? in an attempt to intimidate locals into not using the main beach. After all we are not living in segregation times? 

  2. I looked at the realized that the so call public except for the few individuals cannot cross the bridge to the beach without permission or a so call day pass which will cost them some money. So I would ask again how is the locals going to have access to the beach area

  3. I love what they did with the river but they stop the locals from their beach front. Widen the beach more put a small bridge and mark their beach front from the shore line and give the locals the watet rides and spots that they can rent to the guest at the hotel and every one will be happy story dun

  4. Augustas Carr says:

    This is a very good article but it have not captured the immense benefits from this new hotel. This is the best hotel investment SVG would ever have. Nothing would even come close.

    Sandals is known to have increase air lift. Because of Sandals you would have more flights to SVG, which would result in more visitor arrivals and departure tax. Sandals have been known to embrace purchasing local produce. Farmers that can steadily produce whole Chicken, Pork, Leafy vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, parsley, Arugula etc and fruits such as pineapples, mangoes, limes, Five Fingers, passion fruit, guavas, avocados, other vegetables like sweet peppers, hot peppers, scallion tomatoes, and spices such as fresh mint, Tyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, Bayleaf, tumeric,  fresh basil, would enjoy a substantial livelihood. Fresh fishes like dolphin, Red Snapper and yellow fin Tuna would be in demand.

    You would also have opportunities available for the tour companies, sailing, waters sports, day trips to the Grenadines etc. More than likely the taxi service would be sub contracted to a local company. A nearby Fish fry Like Gris Islet in St. Lucia, Potter’s Cay in Nassau or street party would be a very good attraction where local can serve local drinks and food.

    This is a great opportunity. Please look at it more positively. Don’t forget the many persons who would be employed and the disposable income they would now have to spend in the local economy. Don’t forget the value added tax for food and beverages 

    I have two concerns about Sandals. I think there work is too regimented and fire’s  their employees to easily. I have stayed at Beaches and visit there  for multiple occasion for work and business. 

  5. Donald De Riggs says:

    This is an opportunitistic capitalist venture on a trajectory to sell out St. Vincent and Vincentians.

    If only we had an understanding group of leaders who have this country and it’s residents at heart, the outcomes would have been different.

    From the outset, it would appear that Vincentians will only get the menial jobs like, waiters, bell boys, house keepers and gardeners to serve rich white people, while management positions and other top paying jobs like chefs, event managers and supervisors will go to foreigners…..this has also happened in Canouan and Mustique.

    On the current trajectory, our farmers will be marginalized and most of the meats and vegetables will be imported. If this isgovernment was serious about empowering the small man, farmers should have already had green houses constructed and different crops planted to see which varieties offer the best yields under our climatic conditions, so that on the opening day, we could be proud that the majority of the food used at this hotel is of international quality, also organic and locally produced…..don’t you agree ?

    This is our country, this is our critical mass. If investors did not see the potential, they would NEVER invest here. Therefore who ought to be the primary beneficiary from this investment, not necessarily the investor, but the country in which the investment is made. All Vincentians need to understand that ! We need to occupy the majority of the jobs, because we have Vincentians with the skills, yes we are qualified to do all the jobs at that hotel.

    If this does not happen, we will be relegated as house slaves in a modern economy. Servants to the rich white class. When they come and they mess in the rooms, we have the duty to clean it up. Is that all we are good for as Vincentians . Where is our national pride ? This is nothing more than modern day slavery and neo colonial opportunistic capitalism at its WORST !

    VINCENTIANS WAKE UP, TAKE THE SCALES OFF YOUR EYES AND SEE FOR YOURSELF THAT the current investment is not going to be of benefit to us unless we control the narrative, occupy the majority of the management positions, and are in command of the supply chain for food, beverage and entertainment, otherwise locals will always be the servants to the white investor…. slavery all over again…..NAH, we nah allow dat to happen this time !

    Small Axe say so !

  6. @Agustus Car you said ” You would also have opportunities available for the tour companies, sailing, waters sports, day trips to the Grenadines etc”….do you know that is owned by Adam Stewart? All of their tours are done by their staff, so nothing would be available to third-party tour operators.

  7. Augustas Carr says:

    I am sure the Government was sensible enough to tell Sandals during the negotiations that it has to open some of the opportunities to local tour operators. If this is not the case that must be done. Agreements can always be renegotiated. 

  8. Leonard Glasgow says:

    The writer of the article have expressed legitimate concerns re beach access for locals. Companies build resorts near to local beach access then “expand” just to take up local beech access which I believe was something on their agenda all along. Beaches TCI had similar encounter in that island. So SVG needs to be on the alert. Hence Luke is on target.
    Yes local farmers will benefit. Tour opporators/taxi drivers cannot look foward to any big business as the ” brand” also provide those services.
    The people’s beach access should be secured and government needs to ensure that, that is so.

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