By Monique Washington
The Four Seasons Resort Nevis will close for four months next summer for a $40 million refurbishment and update, leaving 400 employees unemployed.
The Premier of Nevis, Hon Mark Brantley announced the resort’s closure on during the sitting of the Nevis Island Assembly. The Premier noted that the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) “negotiated in good faith” with the new owners that the workers continued employment was paramount and that the Resort must remain operational during the renovation. Brantley said that it was agreed that the hotel remained open during the first phase of massive construction work this year.
The Resort is scheduled to close from June 1, 2019. The refurbishing work will continue through July, August and September. The reopening would take place in October, 2019. Brantley noted that despite the NIA and the Four Seasons’ best intentions not to close the resort during construction, negative reviews from guests made the owners reconsider.
“I am advised that the guests who stayed at the hotel during this past year whilst construction has been ongoing have complained bitterly and have written many negative reviews on the hotel. This has caused considerable reputational damage to the hotel, its luxury brand and to the island of Nevis. The construction planned in 2019 involves even greater work in terms of demolition and reconstruction in the central areas of the hotel.”
The $40 million upgrade will include refurbishing all rooms, developing new parking, a new reception area, a new entrance, new restaurants, a new pool, extension to the pier, beach protection work and several other significant back-of-house improvements.
The premier said approximately 400 hotel employees of 730 will be impacted.
Brantley said the NIA has negotiated with Four Seasons to agree that during the closure they (FS) will pay to affected workers 25 percent of their normal salaries while the resort is closed. The money will be paid regardless of whether workers obtain temporary work elsewhere during that period.
Brantley said that from December 2018 to May, 2019 will have the highest occupancy and the highest room rates in the hotel’s history and workers should save during their ‘period of plenty.’
“That means that workers will see considerable earnings over the next several months as they benefit from significant service charges,” Brantley explained.” I am asking workers to save their money. That ensure that the windfall that they will get over this tourism season is not wasted as they now know that come June, 2019 there will be a closure for four months. I urge them to work as many hours as they can to ensure they maximize their earnings during this period of plenty.”
Brantley said his Cabinet plans to meet with the Chamber of Commerce to urge them to expand their employment offerings to affected workers during this period. He said they plan to meet with banks to negotiate a reprieve for affected workers on car loans, mortgage and other commitments during this period.
Brantley noted that the closure will cause a great hit to the Nevis economy.
“This is nevertheless unwelcome news for the workers, their families and for all of Nevis,” Brantley said. “Our Ministry of Finance has calculated conservatively that we are likely to lose $1.76 million in 2019.
“My government is committed to ensuring that the negative impact of this four-month closure is minimized and our people are protected. We say that our ‘People Matter Most’ and intend to continue our commitment to our people at all times and in all that we do,” he concluded.