Hotel GM disappointed Boyz decide to check out

...defends resort's rich tradition of hosting sporting groups

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

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LONG BAY, Antigua — General manager of the Starfish Halcyon Cove Resort Arlene Marsh was clearly disappointed that the Reggae Boyz decided to check out of the property way ahead of time.

Jamaica's senior men's team, which checked into the beachside resort on Monday evening for their Concacaf Nations League game against Antigua on Friday, yesterday afternoon left the facility after citing the below-par conditions of some rooms.

The Boyz, who were scheduled to check out on Saturday, last evening took up new accommodations at The Verandah Resort and Spa on the country's eastern coast, and have settled in without fuss at the more modern facilities.

Marsh, visibly distressed by the unfavourable publicity generated by the Jamaicans' expressed dissatisfaction, stood by the hotel's reputation and experience in hosting sporting teams.

“We have been accommodating many sporting groups, including football, cricket and tennis. In fact, we are having an international tennis tournament right now.

“I would invite any sporting team from Jamaica to consider our property because I think we deserve a chance to make it right,” Marsh told the Jamaica Observer.

She said that not being able to please a guest is never an easy pill to swallow.

“It is very disappointing that the team is leaving because every guest is important to us irrespective of who they are, and when one of my guests is not happy, I can't sleep well. Unfortunately in this case, things have gone wrong from the onset,” Marsh lamented.

As testimony to her hotel's “sterling” reputation in accommodating a wide cross section of guests with a wide array of needs, including sporting groups, she pointed to recently hosting the India and West Indies Women's teams.

“We just hosted West Indies and India Women who checked out of the hotel a few days ago, and we did an excellent job with that.

“Up to recently, we hosted the Aruba football team who came here to play Antigua, and we never had an issue, because it was organised early enough and we were able to put things in place. It's just unfortunate that it didn't work out this time,” noted Marsh.

She admitted that the rooms that were assigned to Jamaica at the last minute“were not used for a while”.

Marsh suggested that the unfortunate episode could have been avoided had Jamaica been prompter in confirming their arrival.

“I don't think we were given a fair opportunity because in early October they (the JFF) and our accountant were having some early discussions (in booking rooms for the team) and then we didn't hear anything back from them for a while, and it wasn't until about four days ago after our accountant Shaun (Rogers) prompted them to say we haven't heard back from you, and the hotel is just about sold-out, and that is when they said they are coming and sent through the payment.

“But we had no request for the types of room they would require, because normally when sporting teams come in, they usually send someone to come in and look over the hotel and select the types of room they would like, but that wasn't done,” Marsh stated.

She said because of the heavy bookings, the better rooms were sold, and “so in short order we tried to get everything together, but it did not turn out the way we hoped it would”.

Efforts yesterday to contact JFF vice-president of international affairs Bruce Gaynor for comment proved futile.

However, a release from the federation yesterday stated: “The JFF wishes to explain that the initial hotel chosen for accommodation came well recommended but it was learnt that current renovations had made many of the available rooms inappropriate and a health risk.”

The release added: On hearing of the conditions and the dissatisfaction of the players and staff, the President (Michael Ricketts) immediately instructed that an alternative hotel should be secured. The JFF publicly apologises to the delegation for the inconvenience and embarrassment.”

Marsh said, while the hotel is relatively old, it is famous for its friendly staff, food and overall experience.

“Apart from sporting teams, our guests come from all over the world, especially from Europe, USA and Canada and we have a very high level of repeat visits.

“I would really want to invite a member of the Jamaican football team to come back and get the true Halcyon experience. But I really want to apologise on behalf of the hotel that we were not able to provide the kind of rooms that we would have wanted to on this occasion,” she concluded.

— Sean Williams


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