The management of Grafton Beach Hotel and La Courland Spas will not be reopening the hotels next month.
According to officials, a range of reasons influenced the decision—from the discovery of the COVID-19 Gamma variant (also known as the Brazilian variant), a large number of unvaccinated employees along with decreased domestic flights and sailings.
The hotels’ manager Nalini Galbaransingh told Guardian Media the odds were stacked against reopening now. She could not say if the hotels would remain closed until 2022.
The establishments’ continued closure means almost 170 workers are on the breadline and 200 rooms off the market.
“If the Brazilian (COVID-19) variant is in Tobago, if we are still on curfew, beaches and restaurants are closed, people cannot gather, people are not getting vaccinated …I am opening to whom?” the manager asked.
She added, “Where does anybody keep finding the funds to open and close and open and close, that is all we have done for 18 months.”
Asked if members of the hotel’s staff were paid since being sent home in March, she said, “I laid off 170 people last year…most of my staff in Tobago have not gotten any of the (Government’s) grants from last year or this year.”
She assured that the hotel’s management fulfilled its statutory obligations so the workers could get their COVID-relief grants.
“If Grafton Beach Resort does not pay its legal obligations, you don’t think we would be in the press and gone through umpteenth audits.”
Galbaransingh said the non-payment of grants was affecting staff with over 25 years of service at the hotel.
However, she refused to say what percentage of workers had been vaccinated.
But Galbaransingh did say that the hotel still had to pay bills and the salaries of its skeleton staff, despite being closed.
“T&TEC is still charging reserve capacity at $13,000 per month. That is just reserve capacity. That is not the full bill. We also have to pay another $20,000 monthly for water.”
She said other monthly bills included payment for music rights to the Copyright Organization of Trinidad and Tobago and membership dues.
“We will reopen the hotels when we see some positive momentum. Right now, many things are stacked against us…We will remain closed for the next few months,” Galbaransingh said.