#TheBahamas – January 5, 2020 – I was shocked and saddened this morning to learn of the passing of the late great pioneering Caribbean tourism champion, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart. Only then did I recall that I had not received my usual Christmas telephone call from the always warm, cheerful and upbeat hotelier.
Butch had made it his custom to telephone Christmas cheer to me every year since our first meeting in St. Lucia in 1992 shortly after my election to office as prime minister for the first time. There, he gave me the grand tour of his new hotel acquisition “La Toc” and outlined how he proposed to transform the resort into one of his signature five-star all-inclusive hotels.
It was early days in the creation of his highly acclaimed all-inclusive hotel chain. I encouraged him to come to The Bahamas where he already owned land in my constituency and where he purportedly proposed to develop a Sandals Resort.
He promised to come. I was to learn that Butch’s word was his bond.
He came to The Bahamas. He never built that resort in Abaco but he acquired the then Government-owned and money-losing Balmoral Beach Hotel in Cable Beach. He transformed the dog-eared property into the Royal Bahamian Balmoral Hotel Resort and Spa investing almost twice what he had undertaken to do. He expanded the room count, restaurants and beach amenities including an exclusive off-shore beach experience on neighbouring Balmoral Island and he doubled the number of employees at the resort.
Later he expanded the Sandals branch to include his five-star resort on Fowl Cay in the Exumas and later still he acquired the troubled property operated by the Four Seasons chain of hotels at Emerald Bay, Exuma saving an important employment engine in the central Bahamas.
In all my years of contact with him, whether in office or out, he never over-promised and he always fulfilled his commitments.
He was an astute tourism businessman. I valued his views and advice on tourism in our region.
Butch was, in my estimation the preeminent Caribbean hotelier. His success in competing successfully with some of the largest international hotel brands is testimony to that achievement.
Still, some of my fondest memories of him include time spent over lazy meals at George Myers’ home and of days spent with him in Jamaica and on the waters of The Bahamas doing one of the things that I love best – fishing.
I think that Butch qualifies as one of Jamaica’s best exports to the Caribbean. Always a Jamaican at heart, he loved all of the Caribbean. His death is a devastating loss to the Caribbean region.
He was a good friend to The Bahamas and a reliable corporate citizen. I sometimes felt that we in The Bahamas held a special place in his heart.
I am honoured to have counted him among my friends. He will be greatly missed.
I offer sincere condolences to all of Butch’s family, to all the employees and associates of Sandals Hotels in The Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean and to the nation of Jamaica which has lost a national hero.
May he Rest in Peace.
TWO SEXUAL Assault Cases begin in Providenciales Supreme Court
Freelance Court Reporter
#TurksandCaicos, September 26, 2023 – On Monday 25th September 2023 in the Providenciales Supreme Court before her Ladyship Ms. Tanya Lobban Jackson and a seven member Jury to be empaneled, there are TWO sexual assault/rape cases are listed to commence.
TRIAL 1: NICHOLL PRUDHOMME allegation date is on January 17th, 2022. The defendant is represented by Ms. Sheena Mair, who is also on bail.
The reported virtual complainant in this case is an adult in her 20’s.
TRIAL 2: DARROL FORBES allegations totaling six counts linked to alleged sexual abuse of one of his underage daughters.
The incidents, for which Forbes is being tried, range in dates from June 1st to August 31st in 2020.
Forbes is represented by Keith James and is on bail.
Finance minister not worried about Q1 negative growth
#TurksandCaicos, September 26, 2023 – E Jay Saunders, TCI Finance Minister, isn’t worried about an economic downturn following a quarter of negative growth in Q1 of 2023.
Speaking to Magnetic Media on Tuesday September 19th, the country’s Deputy Premier said: “Revenues don’t grow forever— you will have declines— but I am not nervous.”
During the recent Throne Speech, it was revealed that revenues were down and spending, too had decreased for the first quarter of TCIG’s fiscal year.
Saunders explained that with any country or even business, there were quarterly dips and spikes in economic performance but what mattered was the overall picture, which for the Turks and Caicos keeps climbing.
He also explained what could have caused the dip.
Saunders said that over the past two years the sale of luxury condominiums from places like the Ritz Carlton and post pandemic traveling boom, had rocketed the country’s income pumping up the cash brought in from stamp duties and other related taxes.
With less travel predicted and the country in a sort of in-between stage of construction with major buildings in the process of being finished but not as much new inventory on the market, Saunders said a drop in profits was not far-fetched.
He stressed though that this was not a reflection on ‘Brand TCI,’ rather the expected rise and fall of the economy. With the introduction of new real estate and the prime tourism season, revenues are expected to rebound.
The dip does however highlight an issue in the Turks and Caicos, that is its heavy dependence on tourism to buoy the economy and how quickly that can turn, as evidenced by the recent pandemic.
The Government says it has clocked the issue and is working to diversify the economy to isolate residents from economic shocks. The question is whether those reported efforts to build other significant revenue streams for the TCI happening quickly enough.
Royal TCI Police Briefs
#TurksandCaicos, September 26, 2023 –
A 30-year-old male suspect remains in police custody assisting detectives of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force with investigations, after the seizure of an AR15 Assault Rifle and several rounds of ammunition.
Preliminary reports state, that around 1.37 a.m. today, information was obtained regarding a suspicious vehicle that was intercepted by Police Officers.
This led to the arrest of the suspect, who was in the vehicle when officers intercepted it in the vicinity of Rock Plaza, Millennium Highway. A search of the vehicle resulted in the assault rifle and ammunition being found.
In a separate incident today at 8.25 a.m., Marine Branch officers acting on information proceeded to an area off Sapodilla Bay, South Dock, and noticed several packages floating in the sea. Eighteen packages were retrieved from the sea.
Upon inspection, the packages contained cocaine with an estimated street value of $250,000. Both incidents remain under active police investigations.
Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting said today, “This arrest and drug find was a result of information obtained from members of the public and great teamwork between different sections of the Force on the land and at sea. We remain grateful for your assistance and trust in the Police Force as we continue our partnership to ensure the TCI remains a safe place to live work and visit.
“This is the second assault rifle seized within the last two weeks and these successes are the result of hard work and commitment by my officers to pushing back on criminals intent on causing harm to our communities.
“I wish to again thank and encourage the public to continue working alongside us, if you see something, say something, there are options available for sharing information with us”.
The public is being asked to contact 911, the closest police station, the RTCIPF Serious Crime Unit at 232-8752, or call TCI Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 and give any information on illegal activities.
Additionally, persons are encouraged to contact the Miami-Dade & Florida Keys Crime Stoppers at 1-305-471-8477 and give any information anonymously.
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