Ladies and gentlemen,
Yesterday, senior managers of Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, one of the leading hotel properties in the British Virgin Islands, informed me that on May 1, 2016 the hotel will begin a complete resort renovation, marking the most extensive renovation and beautification project in its more than 52-year history.
I am saddened to learn that in order to ensure that the renovation is undertaken with greatest efficiency and to the highest possible standards, the hotel will have to be closed for approximately 18 months.
Although it is the right of Rosewood Hotels and Little Dix Bay Hotel’s principals to determine how best to serve their clients, their decision was taken without any consultation with this Government.
Closing one of the island’s most popular and iconic resorts for this lengthy period of time is unfortunate.
I am heavily burdened by the impact of the closure on its staffers, their families, businesses and the entire Virgin Gorda community.
As a matter of fact my entire Government deeply regrets and empathises with you.
My Government and I remain committed to your economic and social well-being and will support you in every possible way.
I understand that the redesign and modernisation of the plant was needed. However the welfare of the workers of Little Dix Bay is paramount.
We must never lose sight of the fact that it is the 52 years of excellent service to our visitors that has enabled that hotel to remain one of this Territory’s signature hotels.
I have seen a copy of the letter circulated to employees that among other things sets out benefits to them.
I expect that certain aspects of the letter as it pertains to seeking employment and severance will be negotiated further.
But more importantly, my Government will be holding Little Dix Bay accountable for all promises made verbally as well as in writing and to keeping of the deadline for reopening.
To this end, as the Minister of Tourism, I will personally lead all efforts to navigate and mitigate the impact of this significant development on all of us.
Senior Managers from my office as well as other Ministries will be instructed to give priority to the needs of those impacted.
My Ministers and I visited the property shortly after the announcement was made by Little Dix Bay principals. We have already arranged to hold a meeting early next week with employees to decide on the best way forward.
I want to take this opportunity to also reach out to our tourism industry partners and the business community to provide new opportunities for the affected workers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for over 50 years, Rosewood Little Dix Bay has been a signature luxury resort that defines the BVI Tourism industry. It has contributed to significant growth in the number of visitors to our Territory, and has also provided immense benefits for the people who live and work on Virgin Gorda, as well as our economy. I am confident that this will continue in the future.
I have been assured by the owners that throughout the construction phases, job opportunities will arise for the people of Virgin Gorda and that millions of dollars will be injected into the local economy. This promise is another to which I will hold them accountable.
Again, I share your pain at this sudden announcement that in the short term will undoubtedly impact the livelihood of our people. However, as Premier and Minister of Tourism your welfare remains my number one priority.