‘Setting the standards on the South Coast’
This was the bold mission statement and stated justification behind the formation and operation of Hotels and Resorts Ltd or commonly known at GEMS.
Recently at the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s annual general meeting, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace urged hoteliers to use the worlds’ most travel reference website, TripAdvisor, to monitor how their guests rated the individual property’s performance.
82 hotels on Barbados are rated by TripAdvisor. 55 on the South and east coast and 27 on the west coast!
The remaining three GEMS hotels are rated as follows:
Savannah (the flagship) No.49
Blue Horizon No. 62
Time Out at the Gap No. 75
The ratings are entirely based on actual guests that have stayed at the hotels and responded online, following a strict uniform criteria of grading comments.
It would appear, even after the near decade of operation, that GEMS have not reached their stated mission objective.
Would this be allowed to happen in a normal commercial environment?
Somehow I think not!
The Chairman, Board of Directors and other policymakers would have been replaced with more competent ones.
And here we are the poor taxpayer, still not knowing the extent of the losses and accumulated debt.
We know of the $37 million yet unpaid interest to Government.
We know of the sale of Eastry House and Silver Rock.
But we don’t know where the proceeds of these sales went.
When challenged during what became a notorious call-in programme, the Barbados Minister of Tourism steadfastly refused to ask the moderators questions regarding GEMS.
It’s our money, we have to keep asking.
11 June 2007