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

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#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.”

Bahamas News

Over 68,000 STAYED HOME in Bahamas Elections; We have BEST and WORST for Voter Participation

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – The just-concluded General Election in Bahamas has presented a new shift in governance.  The former ruling part, Free National Movement, lost nearly all the electoral seats it secured in the 2017 general elections.  However, this seems a swap of the Progressive Liberal party’s score in the 2017 general elections in which the former ruling party (FNM) won nearly all the parliamentary seats.

68,000 STAYED AWAY

While the FNM secured 35 out of 39 seats in the 2017 ballot, leaving only four slots for the Opposition, the 2021 elections presented “new day” with the Opposition clinching 32 parliamentary seats, leaving the former ruling party FNM with only seven slots.

However, the election results showed a significant drop in voter turnout compared to the 2017 election results. Out of 194,494 registered voters in The Bahamas, only 126,414 voted, translating to 65 per cent voter turnout.

PREVIOUS ELECTION HIGHER

This was different from the previous election in which 160,407 out of 181,543 registered voters cast their ballots, translating to a remarkable 88.36 per cent voter turnout.

Being the first election in the island nation since the Covid-19 struck the Caribbean; the dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and the current countermeasures taken by individuals to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

It could also be voter apathy.

BEST IN SHOW

Despite coronavirus prevalence in the country, North Andros & Berry Islands, Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and Mangrove Cay & South Andros constituencies recorded an impressive voter turnout of 77.99 per cent, 76.11 per cent and 73.06 per cent respectively.

North Andros & Berry Islands had 2,126 out of 2,569 registered voters cast their ballots, followed by 1,255 out of 1,622 in Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and 1,706 out of 2,164 registered voters in Mangrove Cay & South Andros.

VERY LOW SHOW

The bottom three constituencies in terms of voter turnout include Bamboo Town, which had 3,436 out of 5,838 (58.63 per cent) registered voters cast their ballot, followed by Garden Hills with 3,033 out of 5,287 (57.09 per cent), and   Central & South Abaco falling at the bottom of the list with 1,844 out of 3,271 (55.96 per cent).

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Bahamas News

BAHAMAS: Nine new Cabinet ministers sworn-in

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis today introduced the first set of new Cabinet ministers with portfolios covering the Attorney General, Foreign Affairs, Education, Works and Public Utilities, Health and Wellness, Government Affairs, Agriculture, National Security and Legal Affairs.

The nine ministers were sworn-in on Monday 20 September 2021 by Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith during ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Center.

“They are the initial members of a Cabinet which will reflect the breadth and depth of the competencies and characteristics of our team: experience combined with innovation; expertise combined with a willingness to see things anew; integrity and a strong sense of purpose,” said Prime Minister Davis.

“They are receiving these appointments because of their determination to get things done.”

Among the new Ministers sworn-in on Monday were:

  • Senator the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, Attorney General;
  • Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service;
  • Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education, and Technical and Vocational Training;
  • Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities;
  • Dr. Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness;
  • Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Government Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate;
  • Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs;
  • Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; and
  • Hon. Jomo Campbell, Minister of State for Legal Affairs.

“I am confident that these first-appointed members of our Cabinet team are ready to deliver on the promise of a New Day for our Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Davis pledged to move with urgency to address the economic and health crises that are faced by The Bahamas.

Many thousands of Bahamians are out of work, people are losing too many loved ones to the COVID-19 virus and Bahamian schoolchildren are falling behind, said Prime Minister Davis.

“I want to be clear: we are not here to tinker at the edges of these problems,” said the Prime Minister.

“We are here to meet them head on.”

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Caribbean News

Sandals Resorts International Offers a Travel Industry-First with New Sandals Vacation Assurance Program Included in All Reservations

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Guests of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts Book Worry-Free with new Flight Protection,
a Free Trip Replacement For the Unexpected and more 

MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA, September 21, 2021 – Sandals Resorts International (SRI), the parent company of the Caribbean’s leading luxury all-inclusive resort brands Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, announces the introduction of Sandals Vacation Assurance, the industry’s most comprehensive vacation protection program featuring an industry-first guarantee of a free replacement vacation including airfare for guests impacted by COVID-19 related travel interruptions.

According to SRI Executive Chairman Adam Stewart, the new Sandals Vacation Assurance Program is designed to take the worry out of travel, giving guests certainty that their investment in an all-inclusive luxury vacation is safeguarded from interruptions outside of their control. “We want to put the fun and joy of planning and anticipating a great vacation back into travel. While we recognize the real concerns that may weigh on our guests’ minds, we’re taking extraordinary measures to remove worry from the equation so travelers can delight in the entire travel journey – from booking to departure,” said Stewart.

All current and new reservations made now through December 31, 2021, for travel until December 31, 2022, will automatically receive the Sandals and Beaches Vacation Assurance Protection at no charge.

Benefits of the Sandals and Beaches Vacation Assurance Program:

  • Replacement Vacation if a trip is interrupted while on vacation – INCLUDED
  • Replacement airfare credit for US travelers, up to $500 per person on the replacement vacation – INCLUDED
  • Quarantine stays of up to 14 nights at no charge if required – INCLUDED
  • COVID-19 testing to meet any government requirement from the comfort of the resort – INCLUDED
  • Comprehensive Travel Protection Plan – Insurance is on US – INCLUDED
  • Cancel anytime reservation policy, without penalties or added fees – 31 days or more for a 100% refund or within 30 days for a future travel date
  • A Vacation Assurance Hotline should guests or travel advisors have any questions related to travel protocols or anything else related to COVID-19
  • Assurance of industry-leading Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness, implemented at all Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, to ensure heightened health and safety measures throughout their stay

The Sandals Vacation Assurance protection program complements the health and wellbeing procedures of the Sandals Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness which were introduced last year and detail the hundreds of daily actions taken to fully safeguard the entire guest journey. Stewart added, “Throughout our 40-year history, and especially during difficult times, we have always put guests first. Combined with our proven track record of health and safety, our new Sandals Vacation Assurance Program is the guarantee our guests can count on. It’s another example that we will do whatever it takes to continue to earn their trust so they can focus on what truly matters: quality time in our beautiful Caribbean with the ones they love most.”

Certain restrictions apply. For more information, visit https://www.sandals.com/book-with-confidence/.

 

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