There are too many times in our country where history is being rewritten with errors. IF one does not know the facts, one takes the revised history as the truth. Therefore I am going to document Sean’s involvement in the Ritz Carlton Project in this medium. In my opinion, his involvement was so significant and should not be overlooked. He is the local person that deserves the most credit and recognition for the Ritz Carlton Project.
Before I proceed further with this article, I must mention that bona fide investors do not care about the political party that is in Government. Investors want three main things from a Government, 1) favourableConcessions/Exemptions on imported goods, 2) the ability to import labourers without major restrictions on labour clearances and work permits and 3) A clear and straightforward development process that allows them to complete their project within the timeframe without unnecessary delays.
I believe credit for projects should only be given to a government if the government was proactive in arranging and inviting developers face to face to our country, or the government introduces investment policies to incentivize investors or if the Govt. spends a significant amount of dollars on the marketing or promotion of TCI so they can attract investors and tourists to these islands. Governments should not be like lazy salespersons that do not initiate or convince someone to make a sale but rather just taking a sales order from a client. There are salespersons who want to take a credit for a sale simply because someone came in the store to purchase an item and it so happens that, the sales person was the one on duty when the client came in. The salesperson did not encourage and convince the customer to get any other thing but just waited until the client finish shopping for that item and now wants to take credit for the sale. This is a lazy sales clerk. The sale for that particular item would have happen no matter who the salesperson was on duty because the client wanted that item. On the other hand, an aggressive or proactive sales person would attempt to convince the client to buy other products or services while in the store. A pro active salesperson would also do road shows, meeting potential clients and inviting them in the store to buy products or even taking the products with them to sell them while on the road. If a sale takes place, the credit for the sale of the items rightly should be rewarded to that aggressive or proactive sales person.
There were so many hurdles and setbacks that the developers and promoters of the Ritz Carlton project encountered and in my opinion, it was a complete disincentive for this developer and future developers. (Of course, I am by no means suggesting that opponents to this project should have not use the judicial system as it was their rights to do so) Therefore, I must highlight and recognize the important role that Mr. Walter Sean Gardiner played in bringing this project to fruition.
Like the start up of most businesses, everything starts with an idea. The Ritz Carlton for TCI started with an idea in 2010 when one of the Consultants for the Dessarollos Group was embarking on a plan to expand in the Caribbean. Mr. Walter Sean Gardiner made contact with the consultant and was able to convince the group to purchase the land in Grace Bay, Providenciales. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 2016 after receiving a development agreement from the government.
The Dessarollos Group had planned to build an 8 storey JW Marriot Brand which would have been the same height as the Seven Stars Resort. However, after the new developers of the West Caicos Project at that time decided not to pursue the Ritz Carlton brand , the Dessarollos group decided to move away from the JW Marriot Brand to Ritz Carlton.In 2013, under the Hon. Rufus Ewing Administration, the Govt decided they would increase the height from 7 storey to 12 storey to maximize the use of the and in order to make major resort development more economically viable for investors.
After the Govt changed its policy, the Desarollos Group increased its original 8 storey plans to 12 storey. In April 2015, the TCIG signed the revised development agreement with the Desarollos Group for the 12 storey project.
As a result in the change in policy by TCIG, there were a few persons or groups opposing this policy primarily based on environmental reasons. Many people felt that the environment was an excuse and that some opposed it for selfish reasons. As a result of this opposition, the Govt and the developers were faced with legal battles in the court for many years . The court ruled in the favour of the opposers stating that there was inadequate consultation on the 12 storey. The Govt appealed the case and sometime later the govt held a town hall meeting in which the majority of people particularly the locals supported the project. The matter was referred back to the court and the judge was satisfied that the Govt complied with the consultation aspect and thus provided the Government with the green light to proceed. However, the court required that the Govt. to commit future developers to perform extensive Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) followed by consultation.This was the last hurdle for the Ritz Carlton project.
In November 2017, under the administration of Hon. Sharlene Cartwright Robinson, the EIA public consultation took place. At the town hall meeting, the majority of people supported the findings of EIA consultation. Planning was satisfied and issued a building permit to the developers of the Ritz Carlton project.
The official ground breaking for the 124 hotel rooms and 64 condos was on February 26th 2018. I end by thanking and crediting Mr. Walter Gardiner, a son of the soil for his tremendous part he played in this project by not only convincing the developers to invest in the TCI while the country was going through a challenging time economically and politically (we were Governed by the interim Government) but by also encouraging the developers to remain committed to the project despite several years of delays and legal setbacks.
Walter Sean Gardiner, you were truly proactive and therefore as a local deserves the most credit for the Ritz Carlton Project.
In conclusion, one of the reasons we have not been able to get the other islands develop is because we have not been pro active in getting investors (local or international) to those islands. Yes the stamp duty is lower which is an incentive but we need to take the islands to potential developers rather than just hoping and waiting for something to happen. This is what Walter did with the Ritz Carlton project. The ideal thing to do of course is for a group of us to team up and form companies and develop the islands ourselves. He who pays the piper calls the tune.