MINISTER for Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation Guy Joseph says there is no way the Sandals Hotel Chain can hold Saint Lucia to ransom.
In fact, as far as the minister is concerned, when it comes to Sandals and its associated Beaches brand – ‘the more the merrier’.
Minister Joseph made his position clear while responding to concerns that Sandals Resorts, which recently broke ground to build a fourth hotel here, could hold Saint Lucia to ransom.
He did so while also defending his earlier suggestion that Saint Lucia should have a fifth Sandals property.
“How can Sandals hold the country to ransom?” Joseph asked, when the question was raised at a news conference.
“What will Sandals do? If you have a billion-dollar investment in a country, you are just going to… He cannot put the hotels on his back and go with it,” he explained.
“What can he do? Close it indefinitely and walk away?”
The minister declared that Saint Lucia has to be realistic in its approach towards development and described Sandals as a company with a proven track record.
“If track record means nothing to other people, it means something to me. So, when I look at all of the hotels that have operated in Saint Lucia – come and go, change of management, change of this, change of that…
“I mean, look at what happened with Smugglers. You know how much money the banks lost in loans that were given to Smugglers?”
“[Do] You know how much money the previous government wrote off for Smugglers?” the minister asked as he asserted that the company eventually folded.
He observed that all during that time and for the past 25 years, Sandals has continued to expand in Saint Lucia and throughout the Caribbean.
Joseph also mentioned the Sandals occupancy level and consistency of quality service.
“Why I believe we should have a fifth Sandals is because we do not have a ‘Beaches’ in Saint Lucia and anyone who goes to a ‘Beaches’ property would understand the value of that property in terms of the family chain, because Sandals is a hotel for couples.”
Sandals Resorts International owns and operates the ‘Beaches’ brand.
Joseph said a Beaches property will be a new type of resort that will cater to the entire family.
“I am not afraid of development,” the minister asserted.