The new Minister of TEATT Stewart Johnson released information that he had met with Saro Spadaro from the MAHO group but the most Johnson could have done at this stage is to get information on their intensions, outlining what their plans were in relation to the rebuilding of the property. The move however from the minister is a good one in that he was able to learn of the plans for the Resort which was relayed to him first hand.
The Issue of the Chinese laborers although not Johnson’s responsibility, was reported on in his release stating Maho was not cutting cost by employing Chinese contractors but the guarantee presented to complete the job was more important to them. According to the release Johnson says he had a “frank discussion with Spadaro” during which he commended the hotelier for his “commitment to rebuilding following the destruction of the resorts by the hurricanes. He told Johnson that his urgency to rebuild came from watching the increase of visitors to Jamaica, Aruba, St. Kitts and the Dominican Republic as a direct result of St. Maarten recovering from the hurricanes of 2017.
Spadaro also said marketing St. Maarten was still essential to ensure that the improvement of the tourism product including hotels reopening was consistent with increased airlifts and visitor arrivals to the destination.
Minister Johnson said his Tourism Department will continue to keep St. Maarten present in the minds of travelers.
The minister toured Casino Royal which will reopen shortly with the area that housed the former Tantra Night Club turned into two fine-dining restaurants and a 360-degree view lounge. Spadaro said the new design of Sky Tower Hotel and the Ocean Point maximizes the use of open spaces to create an improved “Caribbean experience.”
Giving full disclosure, Spadaro explained that the use of Chinese nationals did not save cost but guaranteed 40% faster construction speed with improved technology, and availability of high-quality material. Before construction began the Chinese contractors built two model hotel rooms in China which were critiqued by Sonesta before a final decision was made for the hotels’ new look, the release in part concluded.