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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

RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure



#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.

Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.

The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.

Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe.  In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm.  I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

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List of Demands for UK, presented by Overseas Territories at May 4-6 meetings



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#UnitedKingdom, May 19, 2022 – Speakers of the House from Overseas Territories in the Caribbean met with the UK House of Commons in the first ever Speaker-led conference to discuss issues relating to governance, climate and visibility in the House of Commons and provide the UK with an idea of what they say is necessary for OTs to survive.

The meeting held on May 4th to 6th was attended by Speakers from Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, the UK House of Commons and a representative from Gibraltar.

A communique released after the event made it clear that democracy was of utmost import to the small island states.

“We reaffirmed the central role played by legislatures in democratic life, our commitment to the principles of democracy in our legislatures, the sacredness of democracy and the need for partnership to sustain it. As our legislatures bring together all components of society, they are the cornerstones of democratic governance; they represent the wills and expressions of the people through scrutiny and democratic process,” it said.


In order to support the legislature the OTs requested that the UK government provide funding for them to have a ‘dedicated building in which to carry out its activities and duties’ as well as investment in the training of officials and sharing of best practices. The Speakers also requested that funding be provided for any constitutional reviews should the issue arise.

To ensure that the overseas territories have a voice in legislation in the UK that affects them the UK Speaker promised to explore opportunities for OTs to scrutinise these laws . Additionally the UK Speaker said the house of commons was willing to help facilitate parliamentary representation of the Overseas Territories at the UK Parliament if the territories decided they wanted to.

The Speakers requested that outside of this the UK provide detailed Impact Assessments for any bill that would affect them

Climate Change 

Aptly described as a climate emergency in the communique the speakers noted that while the OTs were bastions of nature  the volatility with which climate change was occurring would directly impact overseas territories first and worst.

“The Overseas Territories are custodians of internationally important habitats, which span the globe from the Antarctic to the Caribbean, the South Atlantic to the Pacific and the Indian Oceans with different geographical challenges…We recognise that the Overseas Territories have multiple levels of vulnerability including economic constraints and challenges of infrastructure which mean the impacts of the climate emergency can result in huge environmental disasters and economic impacts” it said.

Thus the countries called for long term, strategic action by the UK including dedicated and transparent funding to replace lost EU funding caused by Brexit. They also thanked the UK for their commitment to biodiversity.

The territories ended on a firm note emphasising their right to self-determination saying, “We reiterate our shared belief that the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, as enshrined in the UN Charter, applies to the peoples of the Overseas Territories.”

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JAMAICA: Bust of Labour Movement Activist Agnes Bernard Unveiled



#Jamaica, May 19, 2022 – A bust of Agnes “Aggie” Bernard, a stalwart in Jamaica’s labour movement, has been erected at the Kingston Craft Market located downtown.

The sculpture, which rests atop an existing monument in her honour, was commissioned in partnership between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

It was unveiled during a ceremony on Wednesday (May 18) to kick off Workers’ Week from May 15 to 23 under the theme ‘Repositioning Jamaica’s Labour Market post COVID-19’.

Speaking at the unveiling, Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, said that Ms. Bernard was one of the foremost pioneering women activists in Jamaica’s labour movement during the 1938 labour riots that were pivotal in Jamaica’s political development.

“We honour one of the truly outstanding women of Jamaica, a heroine in her own right. Aggie was truly one of the great and faithful servants of the labour movement in Jamaica,” she said.

“At the age of 28 in 1938, she was there when Alexander Bustamante, who had decided to lead the workers, and Garveyite, St. William Grant, were arrested fighting for the cause of striking workers. Seeing all of this, Aggie was moved to lend a hand to the cause and what a mighty hand that was,” Ms. Grange recounted.

The Minster said that the decision not only changed Aggie’s life, but it had a signal effect on the labour movement in Jamaica.

“She used up all the money she had at the time, the grand sum of five shillings and sixpence to buy bread, coffee and sugar for the hungry strikers. Admiring and supporting her move, sympathisers stepped in and gave money for food,” Ms. Grange said.

In 1976, Aggie was honoured with the Order of Distinction in recognition of her outstanding service to the trade union movement and her contribution to nationhood. The Organization of American States (OAS) also awarded her a special certificate of merit. She died on October 7, 1980 and was given an official funeral and buried at National Heroes Park.

Ms. Grange said that the bust of Aggie Bernard is a tribute to the workers of Jamaica and is one of the Legacy Projects for the country’s diamond jubilee.

For his part, Labour Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, in a speech read by Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Dione Jennings, said Workers’ Week recognises workers across Jamaica for their unwavering contribution to the economic growth and development of the society.

He said that this year’s theme recognises that “if Jamaica is to recover lost ground and continue on the road to economic prosperity, it will be the Jamaican worker who will have to redouble our efforts, in every sector, to improve our productivity and increase our earning power”.

The Minister noted that Jamaica has come a long way since the devastating labour riots in 1938, when the workers took action all over the island to press for improved working conditions.

Those actions, he said, led to the establishment of the Minimum Wage Act and a Labour Department, which was the precursor to the current Ministry of Labour, both in 1938.

“No longer do we, as a people, have to resort to rioting, strikes and other counter-productive measures to have our voices heard. We now settle our grievances by engaging an established conciliatory process,” Mr. Samuda said.

“In spite of the recent cases of unrest, the peace and industrial harmony which we generally enjoy has come at great cost. And so, we gather here, at this, the Monument to the Workers of 1938, which stands as a reminder of the bravery and tenacity of the workers and leaders, who risked their lives to [improve] the condition of labour in Jamaica. The nation salutes you, our unsung heroes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said the Government respects and appreciates the rights of “every single Jamaican to advocate for better and improved working conditions”.

“The Government is not lost as to the concerns of the workers. The Government is committed in every way to ensure that the workers are rewarded in a meaningful way,” Mr. McKenzie said.


Release: Latonya Linton

Release: JIS

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