Canadian travel group to begin operating six Caribbean resorts as part of new strategic alliance

TORONTO, Canada — Sunwing Travel Group’s hotel division will begin operating six of Rex Resorts’ Caribbean hotels as part of a newly formed strategic alliance, effective December 1, 2018. As part of this landmark agreement, Sunwing’s growing hotel division plans to make significant improvements to each of the resorts over the coming years.

“We are excited to be entering into this partnership which reflects our commitment to the CARICOM countries of the Lesser Antilles.” said Stephen Hunter, president and CEO of Sunwing Travel Group.

He added, “We look forward to increasing tourism in Grenada, Tobago and Barbados as we have recently done in St Lucia and Antigua.”

Alison Palin of Rex Resorts also welcomed the news, “This strategic alliance will enable us to rejuvenate and further enhance these popular resorts which are all situated in prime beach locations. Leveraging Sunwing’s distribution and scale will allow us to boost our occupancy and tighten our operational costs and ultimately position these properties to provide even more value to our guests. We look forward to the continued support of our valued employees, local suppliers and tour operators as we finalize this exciting and transformational agreement.”

The six Rex Resorts will be absorbed within two of the hotel division’s brands: the new luxury boutique hotel collection, Mystique Resorts and the popular mid-market chain, Starfish Resorts. Mystique Royal St Lucia will be the second addition to the Mystique Resorts brand, with the first opening later this month in Holbox, Mexico. The Starfish Resorts brand will see five new additions: Starfish Discovery Bay Resort, Barbados; Starfish Halcyon Cove Resort, Antigua; Starfish St Lucia Resort, St Lucia; Starfish Grenada Resort, Grenada, and Starfish Tobago Resort, Tobago.

Ironically, Sunwing Travel Group, the largest integrated travel company in North America, was initially said to be the potential beneficiary of a so far unsuccessful attempt by the Grenada government to compulsorily acquire the property leased to The Grenadian by Rex Resorts.

The Grenadian by Rex Resorts, a 172-room hotel located on the island’s southern tip, has a 99-year lease of the land in question with the government, with which it is in full compliance but which the government is seeking to terminate unilaterally, and thus effectively expropriate the property.

In December 2017, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a judgment dismissing an appeal by the Grenada government against an earlier Supreme Court order on February 22, 2017, temporarily preventing the government from taking further steps under the Land Acquisition Act to compulsorily acquire the property in question.

The Grenada’ government’s campaign to take over the resort has been characterised by numerous false and misleading statements from health minister, Nickolas Steele, as well as prime minister, Dr Keith Mitchell.

After the initial speculation that the driving force behind the government’s attempt to seize the fully operating hotel may have been Sunwing, according to local sources, Mitchell is working with Sandals Resorts International to redevelop the property.