The government says it is confident that the Elite Group, with whom it has signed a contract to manage the Jolly Beach Hotel, will make a success of the venture.
Government sources say the Elite Group has already begun refurbishing approximately 100 rooms at the hotel with the goal of having them ready for service before the end of December.
According to inside sources, the management contract was signed with the Elite Group while the government contemplates its long-term plan for the recently acquired property.
Until that is settled, however, the government wished to ensure that as many rooms as possible are available during the winter tourist season’s pinnacle.
“We saw an immediate benefit in getting a portion of the hotel in service-ready mode at the peak part of the winter tourist season.
“We have in the Elite Group of hotel companies, under the stewardship of Mr. Rob Barrett, a well-known hotel operator, who has demonstrated season after season his ability to put warm bodies into beds.
“We don’t think there’s a better option than for him to do that for this December,” Information Minister, Melford Nicholas, stated.
Nicholas confirmed that the renovations are moving apace and added that the rooms will be available next month as promised.
Because the hotel has been idle for some time, the work that is required to restore the rooms to their former splendor has been described as “quite extensive”.
Despite this, Nicholas expressed confidence that filling the 100 refurbished rooms will be an easy task for the Elite Group.
“My information is that the MOU that the government signed with the Elite Group that they had already contacted Air Canada negotiating additional flights as a result in order to fill the rooms at Jolly Beach.
“The government is confident that with Mr. Barrett’s well-established track record, it will achieve the objectives of getting parts of the hotel back in service while providing employment for nationals,” Nicholas said.
Meanwhile, severance payments owed to ex-Jolly Beach staff has been agreed upon between the union representing the workers and the government.
Nicholas disclosed that the money is secure in an escrow account and will be disbursed once some details are finalised with the union.
In the meantime, the Elite Group is now recruiting employees for both the construction phase that is underway and to man the resort once it is reopened in December.