By YOURI KEMP
SAN Salvador’s Club Med resort will generate 250 jobs when it reopens on October 22, with the Prime Minister yesterday disclosing that the resort chain has invested “north of $5m” in renovating the property.
Philip Davis KC hailed the hotel’s return after a two-year COVID-enforced closure as an “historic day” for his constituents given that Club Med has traditionally provided the main economic engine and lifeblood for the island.
Speaking at the Heads of Agreement signing with the resort chain, he added that Club Med has invested “north of $100m to date” in San Salvador. “I want to indicate that just for this reopening they have invested north of $5m for renovations and prepping for the opening of Club Med,” the Prime Minister added.
The Government has itself invested $3.5m in upgrading San Salvador’s public health clinic, in addition to water and electricity infrastructure. The perceived inability of the island’s healthcare facilities to cope with an influx of COVID-19 patients was cited as a key factor in Club Med’s decision to shutter its Columbus Isle resort at the pandemic’s height.
Meanwhile, the utilities upgrades are designed to benefit both Club Med and the island’s businesses and other residents. “Work that had been stopped at the airport has to be continued, and all of those will be ready for the reopening of Club Med,” Mr Davis said.
Eileen Kett, Club Med’s senior vice-president for development and general counsel, said it broke her heart to see the San Salvador resort close in September 2020 but said the group was “grateful” for the investments made in the clinics.
“The new X-ray machines, the new ambulance, the tele-health medicine that’s needed on the island, the investment in the airport, will allow Club Med to bring in weekly charter flights from Europe, Canada and the US on Bahamasair. And we expect to bring over 15,000 international clients to the island each year,” she said. Club Med plans to bring back 70 percent of its Bahamian workforce, Ms Kett added. “We expect more than 250 Bahamians to be employed either directly with Club Med, or through third party suppliers like landscape providers and security companies,” she said. Club Med’s reopening is timed for the “ramp up” to Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays, with the date giving it several weeks to address any operational issues that may emerge. San Salvador businesses reacted positively to the confirmed reopening date.
Beverley Laramore, owner of Paradis Restaurant and Bar, said: “We are very excited that Club Med is reopening. They were the major employers besides the Government on the island, and it is much needed after two-and-a-half years of the pandemic. The travel economy has taken a downturn so this is great news.”
Ms Laramore expects other spin-off jobs will be created as a result. “Since Club Med was closed business has been really slow. We’ve been trying to be very creative to keep the doors open. Now that there’s some activity going with the renovations at Club Med, we see a significant increase in business because of that. It’s all positive news all around,” she added.
Alison Mortimer, owner of Tiny’s Beauty and Drug Supply, said: “We are happy that we are bouncing back. We are super excited, especially for the businesses, to be able to bounce back. We hope it all goes well and there are no weather interruptions. The locals up there are doing a fantastic job of renovating the whole grounds of Club Med.
“The main thing is getting people back to work now. For the past two-and-a-half years without a job, and businesses having gone down, people had to leave the island in search for better work, so this is a God-sent blessing.”
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