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Buccament Bay Resort guests forced to leave

Buccament Bay Resort guests forced to leave


Guests at the Buccament Bay Resort were forced off the property on Wednesday evening, after the St Vincent Electricity Services Limited (VINLEC) cut the power at the once five-star resort.

At around 9.30 a.m. Wednesday, the electricity at the hotel went off and guests who had paid around US$395 a night were told that it was a maintenance problem.

However, sometime later, hotel front office staff informed guests that they would have to leave the resort because there was no electricity.{{more}}

SEARCHLIGHT has been informed by a well placed source that while the resort’s monthly electricity bill is about XCD$300,000, the facility presently owes VINLEC approximately XCD $1.5 million. According to the source, in an effort to assist the cash strapped resort, VINLEC had set up a payment plan that saw the Resort paying XCD$100,000 weekly, but the resort had missed a number of payments and the electricity supply was cut off.

SEARCHLIGHT visited the resort on Wednesday evening and spoke to a number of stranded guests, who said they had no idea where they were going after being forced to leave accommodations they had paid thousands of dollars to stay at.

“Today we were told absolutely nothing about the power going down and we have had to come and find information for ourselves.

“We don’t know where we are going, we don’t know when we are going and we have been left clueless, really,” said United Kingdom resident Carol Banks, who had come to the resort with her husband Ron, expecting a two-week stay.

According to the couple, they arrived at Buccament last Monday, December 12, having paid £4,000 for the privilege, but feared that they had lost their money, as the cash strapped Harlequin property buckles from financial issues.

“We just don’t know where we are going to end up tonight,” said Carol, who revealed that a staff member had told them that they were planning to get them a hotel in Barbados, but then later told them that they would have to find their own hotel.

“So, we can end up at the airport in Barbados. We were not given a refund and nothing said about a refund,” said Carol, who told SEARCHLIGHT that they had planned their vacation since April and were really excited about it.

She said that they received three days notice that something was wrong at the resort and when they enquired, they were told the only problem was the weather.

Workers at the resort have been striking since December 2, demanding they be paid the almost three months’ wages they are owed, but Carol said she and her husband only found out about the strike when they got to the hotel and were only told that the restaurants were not open.

The Banks, however praised the workers with whom they had interacted, stating that they had done a very good job in spite of the circumstances. She noted, that they had not travelled off the resort, so they are not sure what the country is like.

A United States couple, Marton Browne and Cherry Vogt-Ward, said that they were totally disgusted by the Buccament Bay Resort.

Browne said that they came to SVG last Monday, only to find out that the resort was operating with a skeleton staff and only 21 per cent occupancy, with only one of four restaurants being operational.

He said that when they woke up on Wednesday morning, they found the electricity off and enquiries led to them being told that the persons responsible for paying the power bill had not done so.

Browne said that they are now forced to leave the island, less the US$2,000 they had paid for their vacation.

“He just ripped off a group of nice people and left a bad taste in their mouth and it looks bad on St Vincent and the Grenadines when the country had nothing to do with it,” said Browne, who, like the Banks, agreed that the staff tried their best, but they were eventually crippled by the lack of electricity.

The angry man said that he had asked someone from the resort to put something in writing explaining what had happened and that person agreed, but later disappeared without writing the letter.

To make matters worse, Browne said that they were told that they would have to pay to change their flight if they wanted to leave.

“This is insane, somebody had to know about it,” said Browne, who is hoping that Harlequin boss Dave Ames is found responsible and prosecuted for what happened. Harlequin Hotels & Resorts is the parent company of the Buccament Bay Resort.

“We were at the wrong place at the wrong time and something needs to be done so this can’t happen again. I would never come back here and it’s not fair to the people,” stressed Browne, who was supposed to leave SVG on Monday, December 19. The couple said they would be pursuing the matter legally.

Steve and Michelle Culombe said that they had booked their trip using Expedia and they have travelled extensively and have never had an experience like what they encountered at Buccament.

The Alberta, Canada couple wanted to spend two weeks here and while they described the facility as beautiful, noted that they were now out Cdn $5,000.

The couple said that while they will try to get a refund from Expedia, they doubt that they will. They revealed that they work seven days a week and to come here and have an experience like this, “hurts”.

“We would never come back here,” commented Steve.

Two Swedish couples said that they spent US$2,500 each to be at the resort, but they did not know what was happening here and were planning to leave on Saturday, December 17.

They said that when they arrived they were told of some of the issues and decided that they would rough it out, but that did not work out.

“We were hoping that it would work once we got food, but they say they are closing and they don’t take any responsibility; they just dumped us. They must have known this was going to happen,” said Herman Krapf, who was there with his wife Kristina and their friends Mark and Camilla Carlson. Mark and Camilla celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on Wednesday, the same day they were booted from the resort they paid to stay at.

“The lights were turned off 9.30 and until 4 p.m. we did not know what was happening and was hoping that it would come back. The staff is doing the best, but the owners just fooling people,” said Herman, who revealed that they would be taking legal action to see how much of their money can be retrieved.

Stewart and Catherine Henrick of Boston had their honeymoon cut short. They arrived last Sunday night and were scheduled to leave Saturday, December 17.

The newlyweds said that their trip began badly, as their bags were lost and when they came to check in, they were told that three-quarters of the services were not available.

Catherine said that they had no idea what was happening before they came here when they booked the trip with Travelzoo.

“We love the island, but we wouldn’t come back to Harlequin, but the island is beautiful,” said Catherine, who would also be taking legal action to get their money back.

Some 37 persons were forced off the resort when the plug was pulled on the electricity.

When contacted on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that the Government is looking at a number of options and has been engaged in discussions on the legal way forward with other persons.