Property Matters – Sandals MoU?

Adam Stewart, CEO Sandals

This is a continuation of my 8 March 2018 article on the Sandals MoU. That MoU was declared as no secret by our PM to the Parliament on 12 October 2017 and that was confirmed by the then CEO of the Sandals group, Adam Stewart, as reported on 27 February 2018 in the T&T press.

My 27 February 2018 request for that MoU under the Freedom of Information Act (embedded below) was therefore made against that background of both parties’ declaration that there was no secret. The Office of the Prime Minister responded on 22 March 2018 to refuse my request, citing that the MoU contained a confidentiality clause which prevented its disclosure at this time. I have since written to the OPM to request a reply in conformity with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act – I am still awaiting a reply to that letter.

I have now written to Mr Adam Stewart of Sandals Resorts International to request from him a copy of the MoU. (See below)

This is a proposal of high public importance as it is being advanced as an important part of our country’s diversification strategy, so the correspondence is set out in this article.

From: Afra Raymond
Date: Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 3:41 PM
Subject: Request for Memorandum of Understanding with Sandals Resorts
To: Adam Stewart

Dear Mr Stewart,

I am writing to request a copy of the signed Memorandum of Understanding between Sandals Resorts International and the Government of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago – it was recently reported that this MoU was signed on 10th October 2017.

There is no doubt that the proposed 750-room Sandals/Beaches Resort for Tobago will be a large-scale, high-impact development, so there an understandable public interest in those proposals. I was therefore greatly encouraged by your emphatic statements that there is no secrecy in relation to the business arrangement or the MoU and that you refuted any secret deals – as reported in the Trinidad & Tobago press on 27th February 2018.

I was therefore astonished that the Office of the Prime Minister replied on 22nd March 2018 to my request for that MoU by citing a confidentiality clause to refuse its disclosure at this time. I wrote to the OPM on 11th April 2018 requesting a clarification and their reply is still awaited. In the interim, I am requesting from you a copy of the MoU in the public interest of transparency in this large-scale development proposal.

For your information, my earlier article on the Sandals MoU was published in the Express Business on 8th March 2018 and can be accessed here. The related correspondence is attached for ease of reference.

Please let me have your reply in due course.

Afra Raymond

afraraymond.net

 

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8 thoughts on “Property Matters – Sandals MoU?

  1. Someone indeed needs to pick up the metaphorical gauntlet thrown down by the PM and insist on unearthing the details of this Sandals issue. As a member of the tourism community I am aware that little if any consultation was had with stakeholders. In fact, to date the Stewarts have provided more details than Dr. Rowley! Given the stated (negative) experiences of tourism partners in the region who have entered into arrangements with Sandals similar to what is being proposed for Trinidad and Tobago, I think we need to push as hard as we can to get all of the relevant information – before the fact..

  2. Reblogged this on dennise demming and commented:
    Afra Raymond continues to gnaw at the roots of the “Scandals” oops “Sandals” Agreement because citizens have a right to know the details.
    I applaud him. Crafting a strong future will only be done if today’s actions are open, honest and transparent. It takes courage to be an Afra Raymond!

    1. Yes, Indra…that is going to be in next week’s edition…together with the fuller response from the OPM

  3. Dear Mr Raymond
    Are we the only people who are not drinking the cool aid?I am a Trini living in the US, and I work as an accountant for a hotel management company.

    I was recently in conversation with some Trini friends and they think Sandals Tobago is a great ideA. What!

    As an accountant, I researched what hard number info was available. Assuming 750 rooms, and estimated annual revenue of us$80M, I calculated that every room would have to generate Us$292. This implies daily occupancy rate of 100%. ThAt is a mission impossible. Your numbers are pretty close mine, so it confirms that this info the government is feeding us is not good news

    Back in the day I was an analyst with A major Bank In Trinidad, a major player in Project Finance. The sponsor for Tobago Hilton approached Us for financing. We turned it down. The spreadsheets indicated some crazy high occupancy rates would have to be sustained to operate hotel and repay the debt. The sponsor built hotel inspite of us. I then lived to visit Tobago as a private citizen and see how the completed hotel was struggling to stay a float in 2007 I was there. It was a ghost town. They never had 100% occupancy. Poor location, not enough flights into Tobago, insufficient contracts with overseas travel agents.

    So in my own basic/amateur way, I have a sense of what it takes for a hotel to be successful. Does the Prime Minister have enough research as to what it takes for a hotel succeed. Does Tobago hAve what it takes? Will contract in Sandals favor T&T?

    Keep speaking up Mr Raymond. There is a hint of madness here.

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