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Updated: 400 Jobs To Go At Memories

Sunwing pulls out after failing to reach deal with landlord

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

Hundreds of hotel workers will be made redundant at the Memories Resort in Grand Bahama after the hotel operator, Sunwing, and its landlord, Hutchison Whampoa, failed to reach an agreement over hurricane restoration at the beachfront resort in Lucaya.

In January, Sunwing and the Government had agreed to co-invest sums to restore the damaged Memories property for reopening. However, Sunwing reported that after it had “sought consent by the hotel owners for restoration, regrettably the owner attempted to impose exorbitant conditions that were totally unacceptable to Sunwing”.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Sunwing said that it was required to vacate the Memories Resort premises on January 29, and is now making arrangements to pay out applicable redundancy pay for its employees in the coming days. Informed sources suggested the number of jobs to go was around 400.

The Sunwing statement in full reads:

"In 2013, the Sunwing Travel Group forged a partnership with the Government of The Bahamas and in 2014 began to operate the Memories Grand Bahama Beach & Casino Resort on Grand Bahama Island. Concurrently with Sunwing’s opening of the Memories Resort, Sunwing began weekly flight service from eight cities in Canada and daily flights from a variety of US cities in the ensuing summer.

"The opening of the 492-room Resort coupled with Sunwing’s tour operator and airlift support, led to the revitalization of the Grand Bahama tourist economy, over 100,000 incremental tourists annually arriving on new flying programs from Canada and the Eastern United States, the creation of over 1500 jobs on the Island, and an annual economic contribution exceeding US $140 Million.

"On October 6th of 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused significant damage to the Memories Resort and forced its closure. Despite an immediate response from Sunwing Travel Group and the Government of The Bahamas to secure alternative accommodations, protect flying, and expedite the necessary repairs, the Hotel’s owner, Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, did not agree to requests to restore the Memories.

"Since this event, the Sunwing Travel Group has taken on the significant financial burden of compensating and re-protecting customers as well as running an air program with limited accommodation options as a demonstration of goodwill and commitment to the people of Grand Bahama Island. In January, it was reported in the Bahamian press that the Government and Sunwing had agreed to co-invest sums to restore the Memories and secure its earliest reopening. Sunwing sought the hotel Owner’s consent for such restoration but regrettably, the Owner attempted to impose exorbitant conditions that were totally unacceptable to Sunwing and would be to any other potential tenant.

"The Sunwing Travel Group is very proud of the partnership it has forged with the Government and the people of Grand Bahama and very saddened to report that we were required to vacate the Memories Resort premises on January 29, 2017. Accordingly, we are making arrangements to pay out applicable redundancy pay for our employees and will be reaching out to our employees in the coming days.

"Sunwing intends to continue supporting Grand Bahama Island and its tourism economy, including its hotels, through its tour operators, Sunwing Vacations and US-based Vacation Express as well as by continuing its airlift programs from Canada and from the United States in the summer, subject to conditions we are discussing with Government.

"We are also pleased to advise that as part of our ongoing commitment to Grand Bahama and its people, we are already developing plans in concert with the Government to return to Grand Bahama Island as a hotel operator and are optimistic that we will be in a position to announce details shortly. We are very appreciative for the support we’ve received from the Government and the wonderful people of Grand Bahama. Thank you for your continued support and understanding."

Comments

jackbnimble 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Think the PLP made a mistake when they bragged about creating 32,000 jobs in this last term. They should have said Bahamians have LOST over 32,000 jobs since we took over. But you know what? We don't read the headlines and as voters we are stupid enough to believe them.

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themessenger 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Weren't Obie Wilchcombe and Michael Darville just waffling on at the convention about how good things were in Grand Bahama? Help & Hope on the way, the PLP believes in Bahamians aint you know?

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BMW 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Dr. D said that Grand Bahama booming, hell he must be talking bout the gun shots on Logwood road! We have got to get better governance some how some way!! Don't let your vote be bought!!

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jujutreeclub 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Hutchinson is a chinese/Hong Kong based company and they want that for themselves so they can own more estate here in this country. The airport and seaport is owned by them. This is the same thing they did to Sarkis with Baha Mar.

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TalRussell 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrades! If Freeport is not allowed to avoid full insolvency if it is not quickly returned back to the full sovereignty of The Bahamaland - then why not sell it to Bahamalanders to be established as a new and totally separate Independent nation for the initial 25,444 persons - who want get on with the running of a progressive, good, safe and prosperous country - under their own National Flag and National Anthem?

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banker 8 months, 2 weeks ago

This is a sign of things to come for our tourism industry. Sunwing is a travel group and a cheap airlines that brings budget-concious, but winter-weary Canadians to sun-filled destinations. Sunwing also bought a UK travel group Signature Vacations -- a big player in Europe, and they also bought SellOffVacations.com. Now they bring thousands of international visitors to the resorts they operate. Then they bought Atlanta based Vacation Express to open themselves to the American market. They recently bought 737-800 jets for their airlines to provide their own airlift. They have thousands of tourists in a captive market, and where are they taking them? To jurisdictions where it is more business-friendly.

The jazz-playing CEO of Sunwing (he even opened his own jazz bistro in Toronto to give himself a venue to play) is spending $400 million to open a new 500-room resort in Antigua, and they are opening a 600 room resort in Jamaica -- where incidentally, ScotiaBank is transferring more back-office Bahamian jobs.

The trickle is becoming a torrent.

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B_I_D___ 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Wonder if they discussed the layoffs first with the PM and the Labour Board as per the stupid law they are working on with laying off more than 10 people...

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Publius 8 months, 2 weeks ago

The Memories brand in Freeport was problematic business-wise from day 1. The handling of the properties by Hutchison has been problematic for years. The point is, this recent development has a history that it seems few people are willing to rise above trite political jabs to discuss productively.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 8 months, 2 weeks ago

AND AS USUAL WE WILL NOT HEAR A PEEP FROM OUR COWARDLY PM ABOUT RISING UNEMPLOYMENT BECAUSE OF HIS FAILED NATIONAL SECURITY, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS POLICIES THAT HAVE LEFT SO MANY BAHAMIANS IMPOVERISHED AND SUFFERING WITH NO WHERE TO TURN. MEANWHILE CROOKED CHRISTIE LIVES HIGH OFF THE HOG ONLY GIVING VERY OCCASIONAL LIP SERVICE TO HIS MOST INSINCERE CONCERNS ABOUT THE POVERTY AND GREAT HARDSHIP HE HAS SINGLE HANDEDLY INFLICTED ON MOST BAHAMIANS EXCEPT HIS CHOSEN FEW ELITIST POLITICAL FRIENDS AND BUSINESS CRONIES.

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banker 8 months, 2 weeks ago

And to top it all off, the Bahamian president of Baha Mar is on a media tour, saying that the Baha Mar deal is not yet closed. Sandy Sands is trying to get out of this one by saying -- "of course it een closed, it will close once the construction company finishes the hotel". Can you believe this BS?

Excuse me? I for one, would like to know the real situation. So apparently Chow Tow Fook can tell everyone to Fook off and not open the hotel, cuz they een buy it yet.

It is apparent that Crisco Butt needed a public Potemkin Village for the election, but we still gat squat.

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TalRussell 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrades! The PLP Cabinet should have sprung to the opportunity to withdraw the give-a-way of the people's prime beachfront lands on Cable Beach - opting to offer the new pending purchasers of Baha Mar - up to a maximum 99-year lease - not outright land ownership. If there is a change of government in a few weeks to months - the people's mandate to govern - must include a comprehensive and publicly transparent review of all to do wit Baha Mar and associated projects and contracts - including to revert to leasing, and not sign over ownership to the people's lands. The land must be forever owned and controlled by the people.....period!!
And, the lands at Baha Mar, must not be the only lands to revert ownership back to the people - including a public review of all crown lands signed over for the past 20 years.

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sealice 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Seems everything the chingros get into in the Bahamas winds up closed down and fucked up? What's the definition of insanity doing the same dumb ass thing over and over again and expecting different answer?? Try again Perry....

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birdiestrachan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

That is a whole lot of people in Grand Bahama out of work.This situation is not good We must all pray that the good Lord will make a way for them. Grand Bahama is not looking good.. All should seek to find out What is wrong with Grand Bahama.??

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banker 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Aww, it's so cute when you try to talk about things you don't understand. We know what is wrong with Grand Bahama.

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realfreethinker 8 months, 2 weeks ago

birdie you really think praying will work. You are so misguided. You are being preyed on by you lovely plp gangsters

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MonkeeDoo 8 months, 2 weeks ago

The Bahamas invented offshore Tourism & Offshore Banking and Trust Administration but one by one the PLP have managed to destroy these either overtly or covertly. The competition has caught up and has overtaken us in everything now. The PLP Members, Friends and Lovers have looked after themselves very nicely though and when it all collapses they with move with their foreign bloated bank accounts to live the good like away from the unwashed Bahamians. But that same unwashed have elected this crooked all for me bunch of sinners so many time that truly they deserve what is coming.

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