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Three Turks & Caicos Islanders, with Bahamian Roots promoted at Grace Bay Resorts, among them a new hotel manager

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 25, 2022 – Another promotion announcement from Grace Bay Resorts cements their reputation as being welcoming of local Turks and Caicos Islanders at the executive level of the company, which manages award winning, luxury properties across the island of Providenciales.

For the Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas, there is a cause for rejoicing as the trio of elevated staffers have heritage in both nations.

“One of our values and mission for the organization is a brand that we can all be proud of.  We provide employment in the local community, we invest in our people and we give back in terms of educational opportunities as well as ensuring that we not only employ Turks and Caicos islanders but that we employ them at every level in our organization,” said Sheba Wilson, HR Director the Grace Bay Resorts Group of resorts.

Wilson, native to South Caicos is among the first Turks and Caicos Islanders to have been promoted to an executive level at the Grace Bay Resort, she is the HR Director for the group and easily agreed that the company’s culture embraces a hands on approach which has opened the door wide to local talent.

Making the spectacular leap is again Lindy Rigby, who is also a TCHTA Star Award winner.  Rigby is now on a second significant promotion with Grace Bay Resorts.

Having always been interested in the hospitality industry Lindy took the plunge around 12 years ago and worked at Beaches Resort Turks & Caicos before migrating to Grace Bay Resorts. In seven short years, Lindy was promoted from Executive Assistant Manager – Rooms at Grace Bay Club to now, the new General Manager at West Bay Club.

Rigby, at the age of 43 years old has been entrusted with one of the more celebrated boutique properties in the country’s tourism mecca, Providenciales.  Described as “subtly sophisticated”, the resort has 46 studios and suites settled sweetly on Grace Bay Beach in the Lower Bight.

“I’m excited that Grace Bay Club has allowed me to take over one of their properties, as a local it is always humbling. It puts more pressure on you to be the GM of a property because you’re on stage and people are looking to you to see if you can do this,” said Lindy, his voice brimming with pride as he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity and congratulations to others who have been advanced.

Lindy added, “I’m also excited for my two colleagues.  My best friend and brother, Almando Rigby for his new step in him being the director of rooms at the new Rock HOuse and for Kendi, as new director of HR at South Bank. I can say that Grace Bay Resorts believes in locals and promoting talent from within and that is such a unique thing…”

Lindy Rigby is a founding team member of Magnetic Media which started in 2008, officially.  While mass media was a passion for him, his heart belonged to hospitality and with anticipation we saw him pursue the dream with impressive zeal.  Therefore his appointment and refreshing humility at this feat, for a boy who went from running around in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama to now running a world class resort brings our organization tremendous joy.  He shared how he continues to achieve such towering accomplishments.

“I also want to thank persons like yourself.  Persons like you for always believing in me, you were always telling me that I’m a leader, even when I wasn’t leading people and telling me you have something to offer this world.  Those types of encouragements from people like you, Sammy Williams, (the late) Peter Stubbs – all persons who believed in me, all persons who gave me opportunities to lead and who allowed me to display my personality and who I am.  I want to say Thank you.”

Almando Rigby and Kendi Jones are also enjoying very successful careers at Grace Bay Resorts.  They both leave the anchor property for newer developments.

Almando was moved up from Executive Housekeeper at Grace Bay Club to Director of Rooms and Senior Leader at the Rock House which is explained as a majestic 14-acre oceanfront site with 600 feet of frontage and peaks soaring up to 95 feet above sea level.  It’s considered Capri in the Caribbean.

“I’m excited about the new opportunity given to me by a company that I can say definitely believes in locals, believes in promoting locals.  Even before my promotion, as I sat around the table at the mangers’ meetings at Grace Bay Club as I looked around the table, I would always see people that looked like me.  And for a company like Grace Bay Club, that runs a luxury five star resort to see that locals are in key positions, it was always appealing to me,” said Almando.

He explained to us, the positions were not token, but given with the expectation that these individuals could support decision making and influence the direction of the company in meaningful ways.

“That pushes you and propels you to want to do good because when you do good, you pave the way for others behind you.”

Also raised in the western side of Grand Bahama Island in The Bahamas, specifically Jones Town, Eight Mile Rock, Almando is Lindy’s older brother and has been planted in the land of his heritage – Turks and Caicos Islands – for nearly two decades now.

Seven years ago, Kendi Jones tells us she was just starting out at Grace Bay Resorts.  Today, the young woman who is connected by birth to the Jolly and Hamilton families of the Turks and Caicos and the famous Jones Communications family in The Bahamas is living a dream come true.

Kendi Jones is the new Director of Human Resources at new South Bank, which is a luxury waterfront development offering oceanfront and beachfront homes on the market for up to $7 million.  Ms. Jones manages the team that manages the three intimate neighborhoods: The Ocean Estate, the Lagoon, and the Launch.

“I’m very excited about this new chapter in my life,” Kendi, a Johnson & Wales University graduate shared with us in a phone interview.

“I’ve been with the Grace Bay Club for the last seven years and I’ve been able to grow and develop with them from internships, straight up to this stage in my career.  I am excited for the new opportunities, new challenges and new victories I am about to embark upon and I am very thankful to the organization for giving me this opportunity.”

Kendi believes this promotion is another stepping stone, noting that she is looking to even more heights being reached with the company.

It is a glowing string of testaments for the resort group. And make no mistake, driving this enviable corporate culture is Sheba Wilson, who was also hailed for her leadership by the newly promoted team.  In fact, 12 years ago Wilson was the only local senior manager at the table.

Wilson explained that as a growing business Grace Bay Resorts was already looking for shining stars in the country’s high schools and the community college to take up positions across their companies.

“It is a part of our strategic HR plan— we have a very robust training plan in house” she explained. “We do a lot of facilitation especially in terms of leadership development and also developing emerging leaders in the organization to prepare them for promotions.”

Wilson maintained it was all about building a legacy of creating and developing leaders and empowering and equipping others so that the company’s legacy continues.

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U.S. Supports the RBPF With Additional Crime Fighting Vehicles on The Bahamas’ “Road to 50”

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#TheBahamas, January 31, 2023 – Since 1973, the United States and The Bahamas have enjoyed a long-lasting security partnership.  To mark this valued friendship, the United States Government, on January 31, 2023, renewed its support for the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) with 20 new Ford Police Inceptor Hybrid SUVs valuing nearly $1.4 million.  The United States’ Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts; Prime Minister, the Hon. Philip Davis; Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne Munroe and RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander were on hand for the donation at RBPF East Hill Street Headquarters.

The 20 hybrid vehicles will be added to the 32 vehicles previously donated to the RBPF by the US government to help replace crucial infrastructure lost during Hurricane Dorian.  Recovering from a hurricane is an arduous process that requires support at many levels, from roads and housing to mental health services.  The U.S. government hopes these vehicles will contribute to one key step in the process: citizen security.  These vehicles will not only assist the RBPF’s efforts to combat crime but will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the islands.

In her remarks Chargé Pitts noted, “these vehicles are just one example of the United States’ continued efforts to help for The Bahamas’ keep its citizens and visitors safe.”

Prime Minister Philip Davis showed his appreciation for this timely vehicle donation as it will assist with added capacity and increased saturation patrols on the streets.  The Prime Minister added that residents will notice an increased police presence and the police will have new capacity to respond quickly to any criminal activity.

RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander highlighted that “we have noticeably taken more illegal firearms and ammunition off our streets in 2022.  We have also seized more illegal drugs including marijuana and marijuana plants than in [previous] years.  Suffice to say, we have efficiently utilized all 32 vehicles previously donated by the U.S. government in our crime fighting efforts.”

In recent years, the U.S. Government, through U.S. Embassy Nassau, has delivered more than $25 million to assist The Bahamas with efforts to fight crime.  On behalf of the Bahamian people, Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe extended his gratitude for the U.S. government’s assistance noting “It seems that when we’re together there [is] always an occasion where they [U.S. government] have helped us and assisted us substantially.”

Captions: Credited to U.S. Embassy Nassau

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Minister of Health & Wellness thanks Cuban nurses for their service during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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#TheBahamas, January 31, 2023 – An appreciation ceremony was held at SuperClubs Breezes resort, January 30, 2023, to thank the remaining cohort of nurses from the Republic of Cuba who joined the cadre of healthcare workers at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) to assist in the delivery of hospital services and patient care in face of the impact of COVID-19.
The cohort originally comprised 42 nurses who started their duties on Monday, January 24, 2022. The ceremony was attended by some 25 remaining nurses.
 
Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville thanked the Cuban Ambassador, His Excellency Julio Cesar Gonzalez Marchante, on behalf of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues, for Cuba’s response to the call for help from the Bahamas Government.
 
“You came to us in one of our most dangerous moments. You came to us in the heat of the Delta Variant when many of our brothers and sisters lost their lives as a result of COVID,” Minister Darville said.
“At the time that I went to Cuba, we had about 100 nurses in our healthcare system who were out as a result of COVID, while the developed world was recruiting our nurses left, right and centre.”
 
He also noted that at that time The Bahamas could not even get vaccines.
 
“We are a Small Island Developing State. The world was hoarding the vaccines to developed countries and our population was very vulnerable because we did not have access to what the developed world had.”
 
Minister Darville said, “But we had a friend 100 miles to the south of us who came to our rescue. You came to us at our most vulnerable moment. For that as a country, Your Excellency, we will forever be grateful to the Republic of Cuba.”
 
The Minister noted that the nurses’ services were so exemplary and needed, the contract, which was originally for three months, was extended to one-year. Despite this, he said it was time for the nurses to return home to their loved ones.
However, he explained that the relationship between the two countries has not ended as he is in negotiations with the Republic of Cuba for bringing in some additional biomedical engineers, physicians, respiratory therapists and HVAC specialists.
 
 
PHOTO CAPTION – Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville thanked the nurses from the Republic of Cuba for bolstering the country’s healthcare system during the COVID-19 Pandemic, during an appreciation ceremony at SuperClubs Breezes, Monday, January 30, 2023.
 
(BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

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The Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation on Visitor Arrivals

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#TheBahamas, January 30, 2023 – The Ministry of Tourism is extremely excited to announce that visitor arrivals to The Bahamas eclipsed seven million in 2022, signaling a return to pre-pandemic tourism numbers.
In total 7,000,706 visitors came to The Bahamas in 2022.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation Chester Cooper praised The Bahamas’ performance and the work put in by industry professionals across the board.

“The fact that we have exceeded expectations and attracted more than 7 million visitors to our country in 2022, something only done once before in a single year was no accident,” he said.

“Countless stakeholders in the Bahamian tourism industry, including our international partners, worked tirelessly to achieve this. We sought to strengthen relationships to open new air routes. We sought to make travel to The Bahamas easier, more accessible, and affordable and took the message that we were open for business during our Missions and provided insight on our wonderful offerings to the world.”

DPM Cooper forecasted that 2023 promises to shatter even pre-pandemic numbers as interest in the Bahamas and our brand reputation have never been stronger.

“According to statistics the second half of 2022 outperformed the second half of 2019,” he said. In 2022, 1,470,244 visitors came to our shores by air; another 5,530,462 visitors arrived by sea.

Nassau and Grand Bahama remained our most popular destinations by air, while Nassau and The Berry Islands remained our most popular destinations by sea.  Foreign air and sea arrivals for 2022 were up by 233 percent over the same period in 2021 and just 3.4 percent shy of record arrivals in 2019.  December 2022 saw total arrivals eclipse 900,000 visitors, more than any month in our history.  Cruise arrivals in 2022 increased by nearly 400 percent over 2021 and were less than 1 percent below 2019 cruise arrivals.

Air and cruise arrivals monthly from July to December 2022 surpassed the corresponding month in 2019.
Occupancy rates for 2022 eclipsed occupancy rates for every corresponding month in 2021.

The average daily room rate in 2022 outperformed that category for every corresponding month in 2021. The Bahamas carved out new ground with more than 55 percent of first-time arrivals to The Bahamas, with increases in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

DPM Cooper confirmed that the last six months are the strongest The Bahamas has ever seen.  He firmly concluded by saying; “What the Ministry of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation are forecasting so far and what forward bookings indicate, is that we are on track to break records in 2023. We don’t see this slowing down anytime soon.”

Mrs. Latia Duncombe, Director General of Tourism added that everyone should understand that tourism is critical to our economy and all Bahamians, even those who do not directly work in the tourism industry, should always seek to lift the industry up.

“We are all in the tourism business in The Bahamas. And it’s a great business to be in. We want to keep our brand fresh and evergreen. And that’s everyone’s job, especially mine. I have a great, hardworking team at our ministry and we have some incredible things in store this year.”

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