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Buccament Bay Resorts project in final phase

Buccament Bay Resorts project in final phase

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To date, US$40 million has been spent on the construction of the lavish resort at Buccama Bay, which is being established by Harlequin Hotels and Resorts to provide destinations and resorts with an emphasis on a five star experience.{{more}}

David Campion, Development Director of Harlequin Developments, the company with responsibility for constructing the resort, made the disclosure to SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, June 8, during an exclusive interview.

Mark Sawkins, Vice President of Operations, who sat in on the interview, noted that since August last year, Harlequin Hotels and Resorts has been pumping US$1 million a month into the resort to operate it and deliver the 5-star standards, which it promised.

On Wednesday, workers were seen making finishing touches to the Bay Beach Bar, which completes the Retail Village section of the resort. Six weeks ago, the resort opened a set of retail outlets, a plaza, and swimming pools, which provide one of the most exquisite views one can behold.

The work on this section of the resort was carried out by 30 sub-contractors and approximately 300 labourers, with 95 per cent of them from St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

The level of construction work produced by the local workforce on the multi million dollar resort thus far has paved the way for the next phases of the project and has allowed Harlequin Developments to have a level of confidence in the Vincentian workforce that it can deliver five star standards, said Campion.

“It has been a difficult journey at times, because we are asking the local workforce to produce standards that they would not have aspired to previously. This is five star standards, so we’re dealing with high quality products, …some of those products are new to the workforce and we’ve had instances where we’ve had to pull tiles off walls and start again,” said Campion, noting that the local workers have risen to the challenge.

The resort employs approximately 400 operation staff, of which 30 employees are expatriates, ranging from experienced chefs to managers.

Campion said the hotel has restructured its employment model and now has seven employees directly from Harlequin.

Sawkins used the opportunity to refute claims that owners of villas and guests were not satisfied with the quality of the rooms.

“No! It’s to the contrary. The quality and finishing of the villas have been very positive. The only challenge we had is with the construction work. Noise of the work, the level of the work, the heavy machinery work in that time, which we had to do to finish this phase. But from the quality of the rooms, never,” said Sawkins.

The completion of the Retail Village section of the resort marks the end of the third phase of the project. Harlequin Developments will now proceed to the fourth and final phase of the project, which constitutes additional restaurant facilities, amenities, and hotel blocks.

As a result of the heavy construction that has been taking place at the resort over the past nine months, and with scheduled visits of international guests, the management has decided to slowdown the work a bit, especially work involving heavy machinery, and concentrate mainly on finishing touches and upgrade work for a period which will span two to four months.

Since the soft opening in April, this year, the resort has accomodated approximately 1,100 guests, who each spent an average of 10 nights.

On the benefits of the resort to the local economy, Sawkins said: “It provides a lot of opportunity. We employ on the hotel side 400 staff. We buy from the local farmers. We support a lot of local businesses. So from the financial side it’s very good for the island.

“Opportunities exist for the young talent. A lot of the talent working for us came from cruiselines, and they’re all coming back home again. So we’re bringing them back home,” said Sawkins.

He said the resort is working closely with Minister of Tourism, Saboto Caesar, on the hotel academy that is being developed. Sawkins noted that the resort has a succession plan for every expatriate manager that is employed with the company, which will see them being replaced eventually by a local manager.

Sawkins further disclosed that there is also a plan in place to develop a Harlequin Hotels and Resorts culture here, to have Vincentians managing other properties in the region that are being bought or taken over by resort.

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