Jolly Beach Resort reopening schedule extended to Christmas

The station has fallen into a state of disrepair since it closed in March 2020 (Observer File Photos)

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By Carlena Knight

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The 60-day deadline announced seven weeks ago for the reopening of the Jolly Beach Resort has now been extended until Christmas.

Information Minister Melford Nicholas told the post-Cabinet press conference yesterday that the estimated reopening date had to be postponed following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the holiday company American Apple Vacations and reassessments of upcoming work.

“The Memorandum of Understanding sets out a 90-day window that will allow us to achieve all of these goals and once we have completed this we can of course enter into part of the operationalization of the occupation at Jolly Beach . ,” he said.

“That’s why I would have said that we probably wouldn’t be able by the first of October to have the services available, but certainly in that period before Christmas we would expect some type of operationalization of the project comes into force,” explained Nicholas.

Founded in 2001, Apple Vacations is considered North America’s fastest growing leisure resort company, with properties in the Caribbean, Central America and Europe.

Despite the revised schedule, Nicholas was optimistic about the latest developments surrounding the property.

In fact, he revealed that a sum of 200,000 US dollars had been made available to the Department of Public Works to begin the cleaning and renovations.

Following this government work, Nicholas explained, Apple Vacations will do its part by providing technical support and assistance for key areas of the project.

He said it was imperative that the hotel be operational so that the country can derive the “maximum benefit” from it during the tourist season.

Hopes were high that the resort would regain its former glory when news broke in May that prominent hotelier Rob Barrett was set to invest millions in the resort and take over management.

Those hopes were dashed last month when the Cabinet revealed that Barrett, whose Elite Island Resorts chain includes the Verandah and St James’s Club, had “refused further participation”.

In early June, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that under the deal with Elite, $10 million would be invested in the property as part of a government loan.

The money would have gone towards repairing and rebuilding several of the hotel’s structures, according to Browne, as well as helping to compensate former resort workers who collectively owe more than $7 million. EC in severance pay and salary arrears.

Efforts to sell the property have also hit a snag in recent months after it was revealed there was a US$15million charge on it by a creditor.

This case is still before the courts and the government is awaiting a decision.

But with Apple Vacations reportedly firmly on board, and money earmarked to get essential work started, hopes once dashed for the resort appear to be rebounding.

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