Keeping an eye on the people’s business: saluting tourism stalwarts

by Sandra CA Ferguson

In less than 2 months, Grenada has lost two well-known tourism stalwarts, Andre Cherman of Coyaba Beach Resort, and Sir Royston Hopkin of Spice Island Beach Resort.

These two gentlemen belong to two local pioneering tourism families who have done Grenada proud. Both establishments have a reputation for excellence, in Grenada and further afield. The Spice Island Beach Resort has been consecutively winning annual awards for the last umpteen years, the latest being 2019. While Coyaba is less decorated, the annual returning visitor numbers speak for itself in respect of customer satisfaction with that hotel. It is no mean feat that while the most of the local hotel sector was collapsing during the period of the global financial, fuel and food crisis (2009–2012), Coyaba weathered the crisis very well since their visitor numbers were not significantly affected (as was reported by one of the Department Managers at Cherman’s Thanksgiving Service). I also commend Coyaba’s management for moving the hotel’s fence about a foot during the post-Ivan rebuilding process, giving a little bit more beach area to we the people. It is also interesting how the hotel organised its beachfront garden space post-Ivan. Visitors have the option of lounging on beach chairs within the fence, away from we the people, or actually coming onto the beach and being among, we the people.

The significance of the loss of these two local tourism giants should not be lost upon we the people. They were the only two LOCAL hotel operators on the Grand Anse beachfront. For some time, there were rumours of pressures to sell being exerted on both operators. Last year, speaking to the press, Sir Royston confirmed that there was interest in purchasing his property but he had advised that his property was not for sale. Will pressure to sell again rear its head given the departure of this (these) gentleman (gentlemen)?

We the people are aware of the ambitions of a certain foreign billionaire to apparently own the entire Grand Anse beachfront. It is alleged that he not only has control of the northern end but has also bought property on the southern end. Those to whom we the people have entrusted the management of our affairs seem to have given the impression to “developers and investors” that Grenada is for Sale and if they have no money to put out, they could also sell OUR passports, as is happening with the Kimpton Kawana!!! There is NO RESPECT for we the people. In the view of those whom we have entrusted to oversee our affairs, we are merely irritants and obstacles to be swept out of the way of “developers and development”(?). There is also the unwelcome trend of government giving away beachfront property freehold instead of the leasehold arrangements that formerly prevailed. This, therefore, gives the occupants of the property the opportunities to exclude or render access to the beachfront very difficult. We must guard against this.

Not that there have not been tensions! But these two local operators, being Grenadians, appreciated and respected the unwritten understanding between themselves as hoteliers and we the people – us BOTH being prime users of the beach.

Their loss saddens me. I salute their contribution to the tourism sector and to national development in general. I take the opportunity to offer my condolences to their family and friends and to the Directors, Management and staff of both hotels. I trust that those to whom their respective legacies have been entrusted will be motivated and inspired to carry on and grow their legacies. I wish them courage and Supreme guidance.

Rest in peace Cherman! Rest in peace, Sir Royston!

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