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Ritz-Carlton Opened; Walter Gardiner Jr knew it would be great for TCI, now is assured that it is



#TurksandCaicos, June 24, 2021 – It is literally a towering example of a project of perseverance with its genesis dating back to 2010 when Turks and Caicos struggled under unkind headlines about a government charged with corruption; its international reputation had lost its sizzle, doused in doubt but for those who could see past the gray skies.

Walter Gardiner Jr is one such person and today, he is a very, very happy man. 

His dream of attracting and establishing a world class hotel brand in his home country, the Turks and Caicos is fulfilled and the magnitude of the moment is not lost on the 45-year-old real estate developer.

Ahead of schedule, the Ritz-Carlton Turks and Caicos was opened on Tuesday June 22, 2021.

“It’s been a journey of faith through the various challenges, disappointments and obstacles,” he reflects as today June 23, 2021 the Ritz-Carlton Turks and Caicos welcomes its very first international guests to the 4,900 acres property on World’s Leading Beach, Grace Bay Beach.

“I have always thought it was important to have in the portfolio of the Turks and Caicos, an internationally branded hotel.  Hotels provide more residual income to the country than the regular condo and the standard of the Ritz-Carlton is only going to help the other resorts and bring the standard up,” said Mr. Gardiner this morning in a phone interview.

The island-wide benefit of the Ritz-Carlton is a key point.  There were resorts and residents who rejected the idea of a 12-storey hotel and were less than welcoming of a Ritz-Carlton hotel.  The push back became more than casual commentary and mushroomed to a string of law suits; all of which were won by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government.  TCIG and many of its citizens valiantly defended the project and incorrigibly held onto the notion that this investment would be a benefit to the Turks and Caicos.

There was no fear about a taller hotel or an overcrowded beach.  Islanders, in the main, were ready for a project of this nature and size.  Consultations and public meetings confirmed it; the Ritz-Carlton would get the green light for construction to begin.

The development agreement was signed between Desarrollos Hotelco and the Rufus Ewing-led government administration.  The project was furthered under the Sharlene Robinson-led government administration.  Today, it is opened under the Washington Misick-led government administration and ushers in a new level of tourism for the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

The Ritz-Carlton is a subsidiary of Marriott International, which not only assures the gold standard in hotel hospitality but a rewards program of 110 million members.

Turks and Caicos has already benefitted from the celebrated training of Ritz-Carlton; the instruction being equally as famous as the globally renowned brand.  Hundreds have been exposed to that training which transforms hospitality hopefuls to Ladies and Gentlemen.

“It is indescribable.  It is a dream come true.  I know many high level executives at Ritz-Carlton that started off as busboys; now they are at the top because of that high standard of training.  I am also very happy that the hotel has employed 70 per cent local, I think that rate is record setting for a resort opening of this caliber in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

Walter Gardiner was among those thanked by the Ritz-Carlton, naturally.  In 2010 the journey began with Gardiner on the front-line, fighting stealthily to have the hotel in Providenciales; he showed uncommon grit.  With investors, Desarrollos Hotelco, the development which had been fraught with controversial accusations and misplaced fears, gave way to the lofty property and long-standing dream of this Grand Turk native.

“It was very gratifying, it was surreal.  I have thought about this day many times and to actually get to see it, it was phenomenal.  I remember walking to the opening and being greeted by the Ladies and Gentlemen and feeling really proud.  These are my people; we did it,” said Gardiner of the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony held on June 22, 2021 in the lobby of the hotel.

Walter Gardiner Jr, was one of five individuals cutting that ribbon.

At the opening ceremony, Mr. Gardiner said:  “Today is a great day in the history Turks and Caicos, it commemorates not just the completion of the construction and the opening of this Grand Resort and residences, but it also commemorates the beginning of many great things for these Islands.

This opening represents the introduction of our first Five Star International branded hotel. This alone will open the flood gates for thousands of new visitors and solidify the position of the Turks & Caicos as the premier destination in the Caribbean.

This opening will start the process of exposing our local ladies and gentlemen who work at this resort to a hospitality culture that is known for its unsurpassed service and exceptional training opportunities. And, this opening will create many opportunities for spill off business for Turks & Caicos Islanders to capitalize on. If you think the island is busy now, wait and see the difference the Ritz Makes.

First and foremost, I would like to thank God who is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Without his grace, mercy and favor his project would not have been possible.”

Mr. Gardiner has also been enriched by the project; his company, Regency Christie’s International Real Estate inked out the deal which gave it the exclusive on brokerage and sales of the Ritz-Carlton Residences.   The Residences are priced from $2M.

“There are only four residences left, it has been phenomenal, it is a powerful brand which a lot of people are attracted to and that we were able to get it here is just a testament to the Turks and Caicos,” said Gardiner.

Turks and Caicos as a regional tourism destination is accomplishing the exceptional, in Walter Gardiner’s view. 

“We are coming out of this (pandemic) and performing really strong.  There is really nothing like this happening in the Caribbean, tourism on this level is just great.”

Gardiner, tried getting Ritz-Carlton for West Caicos but that project flopped under the weight of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.  Successfully, he brought the Somerset on Grace Bay and the Windsong Resort to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

“After working on this for ten years, now I won’t have anything to do.  So I guess for me, I will be looking for my next project.  I am a realtor, but I am truly a developer at heart.  I want to see development for the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

Caribbean News

Branch out and Tap in to greater Financial Opportunities says Robert Hall 



By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer    



#TurksandCaicos, March 24, 2023 – Teachers in The Turks and Caicos need to be allowed to market their skills to the private sector, broadening their earning potential and likely enhancing their tenure as teachers, also attached to the Turks and Caicos Islands Government. 

Robert Hall, a former Minister of Education made the edgy suggestion at an Education Week Symposium which was carried live on the TCIG’s Facebook page. 

“For instance, a good music teacher, rather than simply training voices why not get into the entertainment field?” 

Home Economics teachers and Technical Drawing teachers and similarly talented individuals should break into the industry and tap into the Turks and Caicos’ multi-million-dollar clientele. 

“Why not offer the service and you can do that at a cheaper rate.  In each case whether it is the Home Ec teacher, the TD teacher or woodworking teacher; pull some of your students along with you into those areas,” he urged. 

The presence of local job experience programs aside, what Hall is suggesting, should it be carried out, could put local teachers and students in the direct path of mega successful hoteliers, architects, artistes and more.  Some of the most successful people in the world frequent the Turks and Caicos and there have been several occasions where residents have their talents recognized and honed by investors.  

It is well known that the late Prince, a multi-award-winning singer, songwriter and producer, gave unique opportunities to Quinton Dean in music and Frank Forbes in culinary arts; one touring with him and the other his personal chef.  Forbes was also a personal chef to music and movie star, Tyrese.   More recently, recording artist Jenardo Laporte was handed a whopping $20,000 by global music mogul, Drake, when he demonstrated undeniable talent.   

Robert Hall is a firm believer.  He says that through branching out, educators would be able to seriously help themselves financially.  

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Caribbean News

Illegal immigration, still a real threat in TCI



#TurksandCaicos, March 24, 2023 – Immigration reform is perhaps the most complex policy to enact, let alone enforce without stepping on individuals human rights or on the toes of a certain group of people.  I realize there is an undercurrent of tension right now as it relates to this delicate topic, but it’s important to discuss. This is why in my opinion, no one has the perfect solution or answers, not even major developed countries.  Nevertheless, elected politicians have an obligation and a duty to come up with a comprehensive approach and viable solutions in the best interest of our the Turks and Caicos.
The impact of the recent pandemic have created even more of a nightmare for many countries around the world.  As a result, many people are suffering and in dire straits of basic needs.  Amid the fears and instability in our neighboring country like Haiti, it’s pretty evident. As we can see, without intervention, it is forcing hundreds, if not thousands of illegal migrants to risk theirs lives to reach our shores.
Years ago, political pundits were taken  back when the former premier stated that she cannot stop the illegal Haitian sloops from coming. Although, not politically correct, it has proven to be factual. Despite their tireless efforts, with some progress being made in recent months, which political party has yet to show they can?
For decades our country has dealt with illegal immigration, primarily Haitian and Dominican nationals and there seems to be no real solutions or end in sight.  Recently, many other nationalities are seizing on the opportunities and taking advantage of the loopholes in our immigration system and porous boarders.
I’m inclined to believe we literally have thousands of undocumented immigrants living in our country under the shadows, be it from undetected illegal boats coming ashore or persons who have overstayed their visas.
The recent voters list published by Tci Sun, which showed only 9,034 registered voters out of a population of approximately 45k, could be indicative of the magnitude of our illegal immigration problems.
Currently, there are ongoing discussions of enlarging our franchise through a legal framework with descendants of TCI. Looking at it through this prism, although noteworthy, we ought to be careful not to rush this initiative. In doing so, it could be consequential. In the interim, why not deal with the problem at hand?
In a small island nation like TCI, unchecked immigration could threaten the very fabric of our society in terms of our culture, the burden on our existing welfare system, etc.  What we need is zero tolerance for illegal immigration. Although we are advocates for human rights, our country has a rule of law that must be adhered too.
In order to properly enforce our current laws and bring about real change, the government will need to have stronger checks and balances in place, in addition to implementing more aggressive deterrent tactics.
Such as, a better tracking system for overstayed visas under the “Operation Guardian programme”.
-Imposing hefty fines for hiring illegals or aiding and abetting illegal entry.
-Housing enforcement of make-shift shacks erected on vacant properties, be it government or private.
-Investing heavily in border control and protecting our sovereign water ways.
-Increasing unannounced worksite immigration inspections, etc.
It’s unfortunate, but given the rapid decline of our indigenous population over the years and the construction boom, the country cannot continue to thrive and survive without foreign workers.  The reality is, our country does not have sufficient local labor force to meet the construction demands and the growing need for workers in the service industry.
The question is, at what point are we willing to accept this reality? I also believe there is a broader appetite by the public for the government to make some necessary amendments to our current immigration policies.  It’s evident, the British government who is ultimately responsible for our external security, is only spoon feeding us when we cry out.   I’m afraid, the road we are currently on, its putting the country in a very precarious position which will be difficult to rebound.
With that being said, there are other options the government should also consider to help mitigate the internal and external impending threats.  The first option: Whilst developing bilateral security partnerships is great, let’s ramp up the pressure on the British government to station their own coastguard ship in our waters on a semi-permanent basis. This will help to deal with the constant interceptions of illegal vessels and less reliance on the US and Bahamian Coastguard.
With our limited Marine resources, why are we processing hundreds of illegal migrants on our shores? Our system was not designed to house and support such levels of immigration.   The high cost of repatriation is draining our already strapped fiscal budget, which in turn creates other economic shortfalls for the country.
The second option: Consider passing an amnesty bill with a path to citizenship for those without criminal records who can prove they have entered the country prior to XYZ date.   For eligibility, such persons would have to provide some form of legal documentation, work history, passport and credible references.
Obviously, this will need to be a well thought out process and will require some kind of “Think Tank” committee to brainstorm this to see what the legal ramifications may be. It will also need to include our census bureau embarking on a countrywide effort for a more accurate headcount.
By doing this, we may accomplish a number of things, for one, it will decrease what I would characterize as the “slave labor pool” in our country. In addition, it will allow those who were once illegal to pay into our NHIB, NIB health and retirement system rather then draining it at our own expense.
“ The bottom line is, it’s a broken system and we cannot continue to kick the can down the road. If we operate the same way we will get the same results”.
As we have seen over the years, even though many of these voyages could be very treacherous, these migrants are undeterred by the seemingly odds of dying to get to TCI.
Therefore, it is futile to just sit back, complain and think it will magically go away. Because, at the end of the day, they are here, living and working among us undetected and have been for years. Something unprecedented must be done.
Illegal immigration is a matter that should concern all of us. Whether or not we choose to confront the problem, or just put a bandaid on it, it’s definitely something we need to tackle head on.
Ed Forbes,
Concerned citizen of Grand Turk 

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Caribbean News

Tenders Published for Credit Union, South Caicos Port, K-9 Unit and Public Sector Pay Raise 



By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 


#TurkandCaicos, March 24, 2023 – Contracts are now up for grabs as some long-awaited projects are poised to get started with funding allotted, and projects in need of companies to execute them; they include, the investigation into another pay increase for public servants, the new credit union, and development in South Caicos. 

A suite of tender documents was officially published earlier this year for upgrades including the South Caicos Port Dredging Project. 

The South Caicos Channel has not been properly maintained since it was initially constructed. The project aims to restore navigability to the port and increase the vessel, and barge sizes (tonnage capacity) with access to the port according to the government’s tender.

The TCIG says this is to reduce the costs of imports as the fully loaded barges reduce costs of goods and materials to residents, local businesses, and existing and future commercial development interests at South Caicos.

The Office of the Deputy Governor has also opened a tender to reassess payment for all public servants. 

A consultant is being sought to do a grading review for the entire sector of which the Deputy Governor is in charge.  The Government introduced a pay increase of 10 percent for public servants last year.  However, most of that was not cash in hand as it went to a new retirement fund. 

The tender follows the increase of the minimum wage in February, to 8 dollars an hour.

Next up is the new National Credit Union which the Ministry of Finance, Investment and Trade is hoping a consultant will step up to establish.  The Credit Union is aimed at expanding financing options for residents beyond commercial lenders. 

Customised vehicles are also being brought in for a brand-new K-9 unit at the Department of Customs. Late last year, K-9 Units were used at the nation’s ports and were successful in detecting and thwarting efforts to smuggle illicit drugs into the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

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