News

‘Black eye’ for Grand Bahama

by: Ashley Penn, Reporter

Today’s planned opening of the long-awaited Memories Grand Bahama resort has been cancelled.

There was confusion yesterday as to what was actually happening at the resort, with initial claims that the flights from Canada were cancelled, and others claiming visitors who had booked to become the resort’s first guests were being offered alternative accommodation.

As late as Wednesday afternoon the Ministry of Tourism on Grand Bahama contacted The Freeport News to organize media coverage of the first flight from Canada due in at the airport at 3.30 p.m.

However, despite an announcement by Dr. Michael Darville, the Minster for Grand Bahama, that Memories would be open for business today, The Freeport News understands its doors are closed because the final touches on the facility have not yet been completed.

Adding to the confusion, an email to The Freeport News from the Ministry of Tourism also claimed media coverage of the arrival was cancelled because “Sunwing Travel Group wishes not to have a big fanfare yet.”

A disappointed Canadian tourist told The Freeport News yesterday that he was unclear on the way forward for the island’s latest development.

The concerned guest said he booked his vacation scheduled to begin today through next Thursday at the five star beachfront property, but was told by the Sunwing Group that the resort would not be opened in time.

However, he says he was offered a stay at the neighboring Grand Lucayan hotel, which is slated to host the remaining group of persons who made reservations for their stay at the resort.

The visitor also said Sunwing would not change his hotel vouchers to the Grand Lucayan Resort but told him to use the voucher that said Memories Resort.

It is unclear at the moment on when the long-awaited Memories Grand Bahama resort - a project which is seen as a symbol of a revitalization of the island’s economy - will now be open for business.

Last night, Peter Turnquest, the MP for East Grand Bahama, said there was a cause for concern as he received information that contrary to popular belief, the hiring of staff at the facility was yet to be finalized.

“We understand that the Memories Blue Diamond Resort is going to be delayed at least two weeks due to a number of reasons. The one that concerns us the most is the understanding that the contracting and hiring of the staff has not yet been finalized and that there has been no training of the staff to date for an opening that was supposed to have been today on the 16th,” he said.  

“That to us signals a significant issue with respect to the project and we certainly call on the Minister for Grand Bahama who gave the assurance recently that the project was going to be opened on time to give an update as to the true status of the project and when we can realistically expect for these thousands of employees that were promised to be engaged with this project to be in works.”

The MP also said he is uneasy about the project’s position from the view of investors and visitors, which he says can inflict a “black eye” on the resort’s reputation.

“We are concerned about the status of the project from an investor’s point of view as well as from a customer’s point of view because obviously we don’t want the project to start off with a black eye or a bad reputation,” Turnquest added.

He also highlighted the importance of the swift action that he says is needed to ensure its timely opening.

“The hope of the tourism industry is attached to this property at the moment and this is the one potential bright spot that we have. It is very critical that this project gets up and running as quickly as possible and as smoothly as possible,” Turnquest concluded.

In search of further answers from the owner of the all inclusive resort, The Freeport News made several attempts to the Sunwing Group but was unable to receive a statement regarding an update of the scheduled opening set for today.

The Ministry of Tourism refused to comment.

Published  Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bob K posted on: Sunday, March 09, 2014 4:55 PM

Title:

My wife and I are staying at the Grand Lucayan and see all the guest of Memories lying on their orange towels and wearing orange wrist bands. We thought the resort was open. The pool is open and signs along the beach indicate the beach to be private to Memories guests. All of this certainly fooled us. We do not see any guests wearing those orange wristbands at the Grand Lucanan. Where are they stayhing?

posted on: Tuesday, February 04, 2014 3:12 AM

Title:

We are also booked into this resort and are finding information mostly by the Internet. We are scheduled to depart on Feb 22 and spoke to our travel agent today, who unfortunately had little information for me regarding the situation at this resort. Sunwing is doing a dismal effort in dealing with their clients & I can guarantee we will never travel Sunwing again!! Our agent talked them today & they offered nothing as far as compensation or alternatives. We were told to just keep checking week by week!! What kind if response is that when you have your holiday booked around tight schedules?! I too feel sorry for the people of the Bahamas who need the tourism industry for jobs & economic success. It is not their fault but that of the owners & the government for not being honest with the actual progress of this development. Hoping we can still salvage a holiday out of this mess!!!

BIG KAHUNA posted on: Thursday, January 30, 2014 7:59 PM

Title:

I PRAY DEAR GOD GETS MY BAHAMALAND, THE GOVERNMENT LEADERS AND ALL THOSE IN AUTHORITY ON ONE ACCORD. WE HAVE WORLDWIDE EXPOSURE FOR OUR COUNTRY AND THIS DEFINITELY DOESN'T LOOK GOOD FOR TOURISM WHICH IS A PART OF OUR BREAD AND BUTTER.

bill and laura posted on: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:25 AM

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hi folks I am not great on this so bear with me. on jan.18and19 the largest travel com. in the mar. had their travel show my wife and I went to it.this is what we found out. first of all we are booked along with friends from p.e.i. from Halifax on mar.21 to memories at the show we spoke to one of the show people he told us that memories are going to open on feb.1 this man said he was from Freeport but lived in Toronto. he said it was a kitchen and a vent. problem he told us we are going to love the Bahamas the beach is 5miles long the market is across the st. there is live music on the week end free there is all so a in door mall I let him know that people were not happy with sunwing with the they were treated. he said he of the comments on trip advisor. he said to keep in touch with your travel agent so they can keep after sunwing. the second part of this is we also spoke to a rep. from sunwing we told him that people were not very happy with sunwing and I was sure they know of the reviews on trip advisor he said yes he told us it was a problem with kitchen and other materials and the resort will be open on the 1st. feb.. he told us the place was going to be beautifull an we will love it he aaaso told us he was not down to see the place as yet he allso told us the beach was 5miles long and of the market across the st. I hope this of somei know we are hopeing for the best as well

Not that jazzed about Sunwing posted on: Sunday, January 19, 2014 11:23 PM

Title:

If your trip is cancelled, you are invited to stay at home and purchase one of the president's many CD's that are for sale on the Sunwing website!
http://www.flysunwing.com/us/flybetter/BuyColinCD.asp

posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014 8:22 PM

Title:

It was perhaps a mistake for The Bahamas to get involved with Sunwing....just this past week this company left 300 passengers stranded in an airport in Cuba for 22 hours, no food, no communication...it's all over the local news in Canada.

posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014 5:59 PM

Title:

As I see it ,having spoken first hand to a few of the contractors, the answer to why the hotel didn't open on time isn't quite so simple. It's easy to lay the blame on one or two factors. IMO, the job was bigger than most had anticipated which was exaserbated by the the on-coming holidays. There were insufficient skilled bodies to get the job done. Many supplies that were ordered to comlete the job were to come from China were delayed. There were many last minute changes that just couldn't be accommodated on a timely basis. These are just a few of the reasons I have come to know.
Sunwing and the local government are to blame for not communicating the fact that it wouldn't be ready. In stead of being realistic they continued to rely on rumour to relay the status. Typical of most things on the island.
Equally guilty are the reporters that continue to fuel the fire of rumour rather than doing their job and getting the facts out to the public.
I'm not pointing specific fingers but I have to say that the island people deserve much better. For those that have yet to travel to the island and those that have grown to love them will know that they are hard working honest people that do the best with what they have. Unemployment has been very high for much too long and this was a great opportunity for many of the trades to get jobs. Many of them have been putting long hard hours during the Christamas holiday in a vein attempt to finish. It should have been apparant to those overseeing the job to have given fair warning to the powers to be so as to avoid an "eye bruising". For those that chose to ignore what the obvious signs should get their ass into gear. Dr. Michael Darville I sure hope you read this article.

Dolly posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014 1:42 PM

Title:

Has anyone turned their mind to the fact that Sunwings actions or lack thereof maybe legally actionable .

posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014 12:58 PM

Title:

I am part of a group of 60 Canadians that were due to travel from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to Freeport on January 25th, and we all had to find out all this information for ourselves through Tripadvisor and now through the Freeport News, not a word was said from Sunwing in regards to this. We now all have to wait a week to get our money refunded to us, and will now be choosing to spend all of this year's vacation money in the Dominican Republic. Sadly because of how we have all been treated we are now going to make sure that many press agencies in Canada find out about this and will hopefully teach Sunwing that the lack of communication is not something people will respond well too. We were all looking forward to going to Freeport for the first time, but now as long as Sunwing is the only carrier to fly directly from Winnipeg to Freeport we will never go spend our money there. Very sad times indeed.

posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014 12:57 PM

Title:

We also booked for 6 of us from Canada. Also like many people our holidays are booked and cannot be changed. The only was we found out about the changes in Memories not being opened was through reading posts on trip advisor. No one from Sunwing called us and we booked our trip in August. Two weeks before we are to leave and I called Sunwing and was told our trip had been cancelled. We were really looking forward to going to the Bahamas, as none of us had ever been before. I called my Travel rep who was furious that she had not even been informed from Sunwing about the cancelation. I opted for our money back and found another resort for cheaper. We booked with another airlines, and hopefully never have to deal with Sunwing again. I might add the stress of booking out of another airport 500 kms away, finding a room to stay overnight and being on the phone all weekend trying to deal with this, kind of took the fun out of planning.

Gerinoil posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014 12:52 PM

Title:

It appears sunwing was booking some vacation packages at the memories resort and knew or ought to have known at the time of booking that the commitments could not be kept due to the state of construction , what makes their conduct even more egregious is that they have an ownership interest in the resort ,which makes it next to impossible for them to hold out or represent their conduct as an innocent mistake ,or negligence .it therefore appears their conduct was intentional , in Canada as well as in the Bahamas there are laws on the books that frown on this type of conduct , it is generally referred to as FRAUD ,in particular here in Canada it's known "as obtaing property by means of a false pretence" , s.362 of our Canadian criminal code defines the offence . Canadian authorities may have good reason to investigate some of their( Sunwings) business activities as it pertains to taking money for vacation packages that the company has known from the outset can't be delivered .

Dee posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014 2:39 AM

Title:

Deena McCauley I don't blame Sunwing for that fact the resort is not open but I sure blame them for the way they are treating their customers. They are literally holding their customers hostage. Sure you can go somewhere else but we can't release your funds for 5 to 7 days, not everyone can afford more money on their credit cards. If they can charge your credit card before you get off the phone, there is no reason why they cant credit it in the same amount of time.Sure you can go to their other resort, but it isn't getting great reviews in the first place and when I contacted them, they had no idea Sunwong was putting up people there. We were also told we could stay at that resort and then move to Memories when it opened but when the lady went to enter it into the system she couldn't do it, it needed to be entered by a senior person. Ok, so 3 days later I call back because no one has called me and now we can't do that. The next alternative was to go somewhere else, so after she lists off all the places we can't go, because of course it is high season and we are so late in booking....she finds something MAYBE in Mexico. BUT, she has to request seats and she will e-mail me this afternoon. Yep, you guessed it, absolutely nothing in my e-mail. So I will call yet again tomorrow and try to figure this out.

Clarence Rolle III posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014 12:55 AM

Title:

Obie,Obie,Obie. It seems like yesterday you were in the Freeport News says Grand Bahama is about to take off. I believe you meant to say Grand Bahama is about to be a rip off, AGAIN.

posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014 12:38 AM

Title:

Peter Turnquest should know better. His brother is responsible for this debacle, as he is the development manager for this project. For Peter to blame the Government is disingenuous, he should hold Hutchison Whampoa to fault, as the owners of the resort. If they knew it would not be ready they should have told people. If they didn't know then they should fire the development team for incompetence - and that is Mr. Turnquests brother.

posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014 12:16 AM

Title:

Sunwing's website no longer has any packages until March. I'm very concerned as my fiancé and I are scheduled to get married there in April along with several guests. If the resort's opening is pushed back much more our plans might fall apart and we wouldn't be able to simply change our destination and still wed. If our wedding is ruined due to construction delays I can assure that Sunwing will not receive any future business from any friends or family who hear of our experience.

Lisa posted on: Thursday, January 16, 2014 11:53 PM

Title:

I just began hearing all these updates about the MGB!!! I just went from really excited about my trip to bring extremely nervous !!! Will sunwing give us an option to book elsewhere ? I really do hope so because this will be the last they ever get a penny from me !!!

Stephanie posted on: Thursday, January 16, 2014 11:45 PM

Title:

I booked and paid for a trip to the Memories Grand Bahamas resort 3 months ago, in October, for January 25th. We knew it would be under construction, but hoped all would go smoothly and it'd open on time. It didn't. The resort was not completed on time for the trip, and we learned this fully of our own accord, via Google. No one notified us, not Tripcentral, our agency, and not Sunwing, the LEGIT OWNERS of this resort. And our trip was less than 14 days away.
Before going any further, let's be clear about Sunwing's role here. Memories resorts are owned and operated by Blue Diamond Hotels & Resorts. Blue Diamond Hotels & Resorts operate as a subsidiary of Sunwing Travel Group Inc. They are the sole party responsible.
I called Sunwing, when it should have been the other way around, to get confirmation. They confirmed the worst, but directed me to Tripcentral to make arrangements for a new trip, or a refund. I called Tripcentral. They had no information, said they had not heard from Sunwing and did not even know the resort opening was delayed, and directed me back to Sunwing. I refused and told them to figure it out. They said they would get back to me in 24-48 hours. They did not. I called them back. They repeated the exact same thing. We're not sure. Call Sunwing. I was outraged. I said I wanted my money back, immediately. They said the most they could presently offer was to call Sunwing for me. I went off.
Tripcentral then called me back within 20 minutes with my options.
Option 1. Stay at a significantly older, dumpier resort, still in the Bahamas, the Grand Lucayan, with a $100 per person travel voucher. PASS.
Somehow, it gets worse...
- See more at: http://casacastruzzo.blogspot.ca/2014/01/sunwing-is-worst.html#sthash.up8kMOGj.dpuf

Shelagh Denney posted on: Thursday, January 16, 2014 11:07 PM

Title:

The Bahamians are always getting the short end of the stick it seems to me, by not only their government but outside interests as well...does anybody care for others anymore

posted on: Thursday, January 16, 2014 9:40 PM

Title:

Thanks for the articles above. We are in the same situation (booked to arrive Feb 8th), and we just recently booked (!) It would have been prudent to have known the status of the hotel prior to booking our vacation and it's Sunwing's responsibility to ensure that they are of the status with the Bahama tourism board, etc., so as to keep the tourist industry and vacationers informed. I will be discussing this with our Travel Agent immediately.

posted on: Thursday, January 16, 2014 9:21 PM

Title:

It's not Sunwing. It's the Bahamas.

posted on: Thursday, January 16, 2014 8:14 PM

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We are booked to arrive on February 8 however I now see that Sunwing has shut down any reservations until Feb 15 at the earliest. Our travel agent informed us today that the earliest we will hear if we are cancelled is February 1, only a week prior to departure. We are a working couple and have our time off work planned. One week leaves us very little time to rebook and I can guarantee you that Sunwing and Memories GB will never see a cent of our money ever again. We booked this trip last September no excuses for putting us off this long. I now read staff still needs to be hired and trained? There is NO way they will be adequately prepared in three weeks. I am very sad for the residents of Freeport who deserve better than what their government is giving them. A black eye for sure!

posted on: Thursday, January 16, 2014 7:58 PM

Title:

Sunwing doesn't seem to be an honorable business.We have booked a vacation in February at this resort and are currently following posts made on tripadvisor .com with regards to other fellow vacationers and their issues with how sunwing is dealing with their customers.There seems to be a total lack of forthrightness and honesty with regards to the opening of this facility to the people of the Grand Bahamas as well.I would love to come to the Bahamas for the first time and enjoy your hospitality and friendly culture.We are however exploring other alternatives due to Sunwing not informing their customers of the delays at this facility. Customers are being given the "run around " on what is happening with their vacation plans.I believe it is time for the owner of Sunwing enterprises a Mr .Colin Hunter to make a statement to both the people of the Bahamas and to his future not so loyal customers.Delays and mistakes happen it's how we deal with them that makes a good business that people will respect and return to time and time again.Sunwing is falling far short of their responsibilities.Please keep applying pressure on Sunwing as your newspapers articles are being read up in Canada. We all hope that the hotel will open with good reviews and we can all prosper from this endeavor.

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