Sandals investing US$100 million in new Grenada resort
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Thursday, November 15, 2012 – The Jamaica hotel chain Sandals is benefiting from a healthy tax holiday following its purchase of the 100-room LaSource Resort, a Grenada family-owned business that ceased operations on October 15.
While the purchase price for the resort has not been disclosed, official sources have said that the deal will bring an injection of US$100 million into the local economy and the hiring of up to 425 workers.
Sandals Resorts was established in 1981 by Jamaican businessman, Gordon “Butch’’ Stewart. The formal takeover of LaSource was announced at a ceremony in St. George’s attended by Stewart and other executives of Sandals Resort International.
Speaking at the ceremony, Finance Minister Nazim Burke disclosed that the Grenada government agreed to waive the company’s payment of corporate taxes for 25 years, place a cap on Sandals’ property taxes for 25 years, waive all import duties for 25 years and waive the value added tax for 15 years on consumer goods.
Burke stressed that none of these incentives were new and that other corporations entering Grenada have benefitted in similar ways.
“In taking these steps, we recognize that we were doing something that was special but we felt we had to do it. We did it because we recognize the enormous benefit that the presence of Sandals can have, and will have, for Grenada,’’ said Burke.
Among other guests present were Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, Tourism Minister Dr George Vincent, and opposition leader, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Prime Minister Thomas said the arrival of Sandals in Grenada was a “strategic addition to the hotel sector and a potential game-changer for our tourism industry. For these reasons we have facilitated their investment with a package of incentives.’’
Thomas noted the possibility of Sandals LaSource attracting additional visitors to Grenada; in helping with the marketing of the country; and in assisting stakeholders in tourism-related sectors.
“We want to encourage Sandals to purchase as much of its supplies as possible from local suppliers, especially the farming community, and in this way maximize the macro-economic impact of its presence in Grenada,’’ he said.
Stewart said for more than a dozen years, he had been searching for a business opportunity in Grenada.
“What a lot of people don't realize is that I've been trying to come to Grenada, not Grenada coming to me. It’s me trying to come to Grenada. It never worked out,’’ he said.
While government officials had earlier announced that LaSource would have reopened under the Sandals brand on December 15, Sandals Resort Chief Executive Officer, Adam Stewart, told the those gathered at the ceremony that the opening would take at least two months longer, as work proceeded on phase one of renovation to LaSource.
He said 100 workers would be hired for the renovation, and about US$30 million will be invested, in phase one of the project.
Sandals also promises to begin screening for the rehiring of the 225 employees who were retrenched with the closure of LaSource.
Phase two, which is estimated to cost US$25 million, will see an additional 65 rooms added to the resort by December 2013, and an opportunity for 225 construction jobs.
On completion of the third and final project phase, Sandals LaSource Grenada is expected to have a 265-room resort and a staff of 425.