STATEMENT BY SANDALS – Following a report in the media today quoting the Prime Minister regarding developments at Sandals Emerald Bay, Sandals Resorts International takes this opportunity to clear the air on the matter, in order to avoid any misunderstanding.
It is a fact that the hotel is facing severe difficulty in continuing operations at Emerald Bay because of the multitude of high costs associated with operating from the Family Islands of the Bahamas. Some of these costs could never have been anticipated and make the Emerald Bay resort unlike any other we operate.
We have made an enormous investment in developing Sandals Emerald Bay into a Five Star Plus hotel which sits on 500 acres of land and includes a Greg Norman designed Championship Golf Course. Because of the nature of the destination, we cannot and will not short change our customers who expect a high level of service.
However, the cost to operate the facility is proving to be unsustainable. The highest utility costs we face as a hotel chain, limited airlifts to the island, the continuing need to subsidize airlifts, high fuel and transportation costs added to a series of costs associated with overcoming the limited pool of trained professionals on the island, are some of the factors which have made the resort unsustainable.
We firmly believe that the Family Islands of the Bahamas are the future of Bahamian tourism. However, the unusual level of input costs make doing business there almost impossible, especially during a time of economic downturn.
We are by no means seeking a bailout. What we have done is to put the situation squarely to the Government and asked them to investigate ways in which they can work with us to bring some respite to the impossible economic environment we are facing in the Family Islands.
So far, we have been encouraged by the response of the Government which recognizes the problems as well as the need for Government and investors, such as Sandals, to work together to arrive at a model to enable quality sustainable tourism to operate and grow in The Bahamas.
We view the future of Sandals in the Bahamas with great enthusiasm. In partnership with Government, over the past 17 years, we have been able to do great things to benefit the economy and people of the Bahamas and the over 1400 full time employees at our resorts at Sandals Royal Bahamian, Fowl Cay and Sandals Emerald Bay. In addition, we have quietly impacted the lives of hundreds of other Bahamians through the work of the Sandals Foundation. In addition, our Island Routes Tours has also provided employment and opportunities for business owners.
We have invested heavily in airlifts including the introduction of the first scheduled jet service to the Exumas, as well as enormous marketing of a little known destination. We have brought tremendous innovation in the design and development of our resorts which have become the envy of the Caribbean. Indeed, for the 19th consecutive year Sandals has been voted the Top all-inclusive Chain by the World Travel Awards.
The Exumas and the people, are among the most beautiful on earth, with little or no crime and an atmosphere next to paradise. The difficulties we are facing can be solved with a determined resolve and a prompt and creative approach to ensure sustainability.
Sandals Resorts International