By Carlena Knight
The dilapidated Jolly Beach Resort could once again welcome guests later this year.
News of this latest development in the long-running saga affecting the resort – which has been closed as a vacation spot for more than two years – came via yesterday’s Cabinet notes. Late October was cited as the proposed timeframe for the hotel to reopen following a series of refurbishments.
The hotel will not only have new furnishings, but also a new waste treatment plant and a new reverse osmosis water plant, government pledged.
“What the developer is saying to us is that within 150 days, if we get started on the first of June, we should be able to have as many as 200 of those rooms at Jolly Beach being made available, and before the winter tourism season in March of next year we should be able to add another 160 rooms to that stock,” Information Minister Melford Nicholas explained.
“So, if we move with [haste], we should be able to get the benefits of that.”
He explained that it would be more beneficial to refurbish the 400-plus rooms than to opt for new investment as previously touted.
“If we went the route of the new investment it will probably take us maybe three and a half years before those rooms can be effectively built and added to the room stock for our tourism product.
“There is a guest service charge the government earns and that gets into the Inland Revenue Department which eventually finds its way to the Treasury.
“So, you can understand to have 400-plus rooms not attracting any tourists, well, we are actually sitting … on a gold mine, so we want to ensure we get those rooms in service,” Nicholas added.
Earlier this month, the government announced that it had encountered a hurdle in its quest to sell the property when it was discovered that there’s a US$15 million charge on it by a creditor.
A resolution to this matter, according to top government officials, would take more than two years.
In turn, Cabinet revealed plans to refurbish hundreds of rooms at the resort through a temporary lease to an unnamed hotelier.
Those plans now seem to be surging ahead with the developer also agreeing to assist in securing a loan to the government.
Whether or not that loan would specifically deal with compensating the resort’s former workers or for the refurbishment works remains unclear.
Cabinet did however reiterate its intent to compensate the hundreds of former employees who are collectively owed more than EC$7 million in severance and outstanding payments.
Government took over the property in 2020 due to the business owing millions of dollars to the state, including in outstanding Medical Benefits and Social Security contributions.
The 464-room resort has been closed since March 2020 when travel to the twin island nation came to a halt as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.