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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

Caribbean, world’s first Blue Justice Hub, convenes first meeting & training to advance regional action on fisheries crime



#Jamaica, December 5, 2023 – The Caribbean, location of the world’s first Blue Justice Hub, scored another first in its efforts to advance regional cooperation to address organized crime in the fisheries sector, with an inaugural regional meeting and first workshop training in Kingston last week.

Supported by the Government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Blue Justice Initiative, Blue Justice Hubs help vulnerable regions build effective inter-agency cooperation on organized transnational fisheries crime in-country and regionally.

The inaugural meeting and workshop, also marked by a regional launch, follows an international launch in Copenhagen in March, and brought together fisheries analysts, senior government ministers and officials for national updates, introduction to the community’s online digital portal and other important discussions.

Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Hon. Floyd Green said the Government is committed to providing the requisite resources to support the regional Hub to create impact. He noted that the Hub’s access to the digitally powered Blue Justice Community enables Jamaica to “use the digital tools afforded through automatic identification systems, radar and satellite technologies to support a wide array of open-source resources to … detect and analyse suspicious activities that are in contravention of our laws.” He said the Hub will also support the detection identification, interdiction, and prosecution of fisheries crimes.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, underscored the importance of initiatives like the Blue Justice Caribbean Hub for securing the prospects of a sustainable ocean economy. The Minister said that the ocean provides an amazing opportunity, through the right mix of protection, policies, oversight, and enforcement which promises to yield significant economic gains for Jamaica. He pointed out that Jamaica’s key economic drivers – tourism, fisheries, shipping, and logistics services – are dependent on a healthy ocean and committed to working with the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) to ensure that protection targets with respect to Jamaica’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) are met by 2030.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hon. Saboto Caesar said now that the Hub has been established, the region is called to action. He commended the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the Government of Jamaica as the Hub-host, and the Norwegian Government for their leadership and committed to tabling the issue within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) grouping with a view to full participation in the Blue Justice Initiative.

Deputy Director General, Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Olav Norheim said members of the Blue Justice Initiative (BJI) have a common understanding that transnational organized crime in the global fishing economy has a serious effect on the economy, distorts markets, harms the environment, and undermines human rights. He congratulated the Caribbean on its latest milestone in convening its inaugural meeting and training and stressed the importance of working together through common understanding as the path to success.

Through intelligence sharing, knowledge adoption, improved awareness and coordinated law-enforcement efforts, the region will create a “formidable force” against those who seek to exploit Caribbean oceans and its resources unlawfully, declared Executive Director, CRFM, Milton Haughton. “The establishment of this hub underscores the regional determination to address these challenges head on with a united front and a comprehensive, coordinated approach,” Mr. Haughton stated.

Ava Whyte-Anderson, Officer in Charge/Assistant Resident Representative from UNDP Jamaica, emphasized the importance of bolstering capacities to address fisheries crime in order to reinforce strategic interests in harnessing the Blue Economy for sustainable economic growth and livelihoods. She called the Blue Justice Initiative’s digitally powered Blue Justice Community a stellar example of how UNDP intends to leverage digital transformation to underpin transformative actions that improve the quality of people’s lives and livelihoods.

UNDP Regional Technical Specialist for Water, Oceans, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, AnaMaria Nunez said the Blue Justice Hub in the Caribbean is pivotal to underscoring UNDP’s support for interventions that enable sustainable use of natural resources. She said Small Island Developing States (SIDS) remain a priority of the UNDP as fisheries play a leading role in supporting lives and livelihoods and are critical to advancing human development through a sustainable and fair blue economy.

“The creation of the Blue Justice Caribbean Hub is a testament to our shared commitment to address food security and the growth of the Blue Economy in the region. Our collaboration with the Norwegian Blue Justice Initiative and UNDP’s Blue Resilience project is essential for fostering strategic inter-agency collaborations that benefit all Member States, in addressing crime that threatens the fishing industry” said Dr Gavin Bellamy, CEO of the NFA Jamaica.

The Blue Justice Caribbean Hub (BJCH) emerges as a direct response to the CRFM Ministerial Resolution No. MC 15(6) of 2021 which emphasizes regional support for the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (Copenhagen Declaration) and the Norwegian Blue Justice Initiative. These collective efforts underscore the urgency of cooperative action to safeguard food security, marine ecosystems, and uphold the rule of law amidst challenges posed by illegal fishing and fisheries crime in the Caribbean region.

Jamaica serves as the host of the Blue Justice Caribbean Hub, with the National Fisheries Authority as its focal point.

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Caribbean News

JCPD Launches Accessibility Checklist to Remove Barriers for Persons with Disabilities



#Kingston, December 5, 2023 – The Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) has launched the Accessibility Checklist, which is designed to identify architectural and communication barriers encountered by persons with disabilities in private and public facilities.

It is a valuable tool to assist in the removal of barriers, as it can be used to survey an entire facility or specific areas and components of the facility.

The checklist is not a replacement for the appropriate national building codes.

In his remarks at the launch, held today (December 4) at the AC Hotel by Marriott Kingston, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., said the checklist is a show of the Government’s commitment that “we are putting in place the framework and the environment to allow accessibility to be a reality”.

“This Accessibility Checklist is just one element of a range of things that the Government has been doing and will continue to do to ensure that accessibility is for all. We started two years ago with the legislation that was pivotal in creating that framework – the Disabilities Act and the accompanying Regulations, he noted.

“That Act is a very important cornerstone in terms of our social development strategy,” Mr. Charles Jr. added.

The Minister argued that the checklist is not a solution to all things, adding that “it is complementary, and it is not a replacement for compliance with the national building codes”.

“Instead, it is to serve as a guiding beacon for us to raise awareness and dispel ignorance amongst those who are entrusted with the planning and developing of buildings [and] facilities for individuals with disabilities across Jamaica,” Mr. Charles Jr. said.

For his part, Minister of State in the Ministry, Dr. the Hon. Norman Dunn, said the Accessibility Checklist is an instrument for change and is a testament to the Government’s commitment to inclusivity within Jamaica.

“The launch of the Accessibility Checklist is not just an event; it is a beacon illuminating our journey towards a more inclusive society and the Jamaica that we all want. Let me express my heartfelt commendation to JCPD for their tireless effort in orchestrating this momentous launch,” Dr. Dunn said.

He noted the Accessibility Checklist, crafted in collaboration with the JCPD and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, is more than a document.

“It is a tool designed to pave the way for society where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can navigate structures and systems with much ease. It stands as a reminder that our commitment to inclusivity is not confined to rhetoric, but translates into tangible instruments that bring about change,” Dr. Dunn said.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the JCPD, Dr. Christine Hendricks, reiterated that the checklist is not a replacement for the building codes but that it will work in tandem to ensure that specific access is made to persons with disabilities.

She informed that the accessibility checklist speaks to issues such as signage that gives information and direction.

“There is a section that speaks to parking, and the parking that we are talking about includes facility parking, entrance to parking lots [and] the number of accessibility spaces,” Dr. Hendricks said.

The accessibility checklist also covers topics such as public restrooms, public telephones and water fountains, meeting rooms, restaurants, guest rooms, hazards and emergency, elevators and automated teller machines and accessibility for the worldwide web.

For more information on the accessibility checklist, persons may visit the JCPD website at


Contact: Latonya Linton

Release: JIS

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Caribbean News

CARPHA Remembers Former PAHO Director Emeritus – Dr. Carissa Etienne as a “Tireless Advocate for Regional Solidarity”



December 5, 2023 – It is with profound sadness and shock that I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends, people of Dominica, the Caribbean Community and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on the untimely passing of PAHO Director Emeritus, Dr. Carissa Etienne.

Dr. Etienne’s contributions to public health in the Americas were not only significant, but also transformative.  Her leadership and unwavering commitment to our Caribbean Community’s collective pursuit of healthier people, healthier spaces and a healthier Caribbean were a source of inspiration to many.  Dr. Etienne was a tireless advocate for The Americas’ regional solidarity, for she knew that was the only way to address the glaring inequalities that exist here.

She was the Director at PAHO for most of the life of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and under her leadership, CARPHA graduated from the PAHO Biennial Work Programme (BWP) arrangement to having framework agreements.

PAHO funded many of the programmes that are difficult to attract support, like the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) and the Medicines Quality Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD), which are important services for the Region to ensure the quality of medicines.  Under Dr. Etienne’s leadership, PAHO also funded non-communicable disease interventions, another area that does not attract large pots of funding, although the number one cause of deaths in the Caribbean region.

During the Pandemic, CARPHA worked with PAHO to fund the down payments to give 12 Member States access to COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX to the tune of US$2.6 million.

Dr. Etienne will be remembered as a true Caribbean lady who worked with great dedication and focus throughout the horrible COVID-19 period and right up to her last working day at PAHO.

During this challenging time, we pray that God will give strength to Dr. Etienne’s family, friends, and colleagues.  CARPHA cherishes the memories of her remarkable contributions to the well-being of individuals and communities throughout the Americas, but especially the Caribbean.

The CARPHA Executive Management and staff stand in solidarity with our Caribbean Community as we mourn the loss of a visionary leader.


Dr. Joy St. John

Executive Director, CARPHA

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