Saturday 20 July, 2019

Sandals dismisses ‘misleading’ video on entertainment hiring practices

Sandals Resorts International has dismissed as “misleading and downright spurious” a video criticizing the hotel chain’s entertainment hiring practices.

The 10-minute long video accused Sandals of continuously showing disregard for Jamaican professionals by “putting foreign nationals in charge of entertainment, both at the corporate and contractor level”. It also accused the resort of racism in its hiring of senior managers including executive chefs and general managers.

Sandals has however rubbished the accusations, stating that 80 per cent of performers in its Jamaican resorts are Jamaicans.

“The remaining 20 per cent are used to execute circus shows, mainly as the local group capable of doing so is fully booked,” said the resort in a statement.

It also said, “allegations surrounding racism could be no further from the truth as at SRI, the ratio of expats to Jamaicans is less than two per cent.

“It is important to highlight that Sandals has several Jamaican General Managers and Hotel Managers leading resorts in other islands across the Caribbean,” the Gordon “Butch” Stewart-run hotel chain added.

The Ministry of Tourism meanwhile said while it “reviews the concerns within the content, there is present misleading and erroneous information that must also be understood in the context of an increasingly competitive tourism sector."

According to the ministry, the record growth in the industry has left “many hotels and attractions packed and bursting at the seams”.

It also supported Sandals’ statement that 80 per cent of its entertainers are Jamaican.

“We are working very closely with Entertainment and Culture Minister, Olivia Babsy Grange to meet with all relevant stakeholders to dissect and address upfront all concerns,” the ministry said.

 

See full statement by Sandals published in the Jamaica Observer, which shares the same owner as the resort, below.

Sandals Resorts International (SRI) categorically denies the assertions, as contained in an 'untagged' video currently making the rounds on social media regarding inter alia, the company's hiring practices. Indeed the World-Leading Resort chain considers the accusations misleading and downright spurious.

SRI is a Jamaican-born and based organisation, proudly run by Jamaicans. For 37 years in operation, SRI has provided professional management services to 19 Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts across the Caribbean and has built a reputation of providing world-class services to all its guests who visit from diverse origins. This has led to the company maintaining the highest return-guest rate of over 40 per cent year over year. This has been achieved only due to Sandals' constant evolution of its business practices, its product offerings and amenities. Stagnation leads to extinction.

While Sandals prides itself on providing the aforesaid international flair, catering to the requirements of its visitors, the allegations surrounding racism could be no further from the truth as at SRI, the ratio of expats to Jamaicans is less than two per cent. Sandals goes further to refute the declaration that there were three Heads of Entertainment at Sandals and that the Jamaicans are no longer with the company. This is blatantly false and/or misleading as David Ellis currently spearheads all entertainment operations at Sandals' largest resort, Beaches Turks and Caicos, and has been in that position, on his own request, since leaving Jamaica in 2012.

Weston Haughton, former Group Creative Director who has been a part of the Sandals family formally for over 17 years has since retired, however he remains a valued consultant, is frequently hired and is Sandals' preferred 'go to' for many company events. In fact, he only last evening (June 7) hosted the company's largest staff recognition event, its Ultimate Award Ceremony, honouring top team members from across the Caribbean who were flown in for a week of VIP treatment. Haughton is the creator of the company's premier team member artistic talent competition – Festival of the Arts (formerly ENCORE) which also just wrapped its 14th anniversary show on June 7. The Grand Finals moved beyond Jamaica's shores, taking our talented team members to Saint Lucia to perform for the public with wide reaching media coverage.

Sandals maintains a diverse mix of cultures across its group in keeping with its commitment to provide guests with authentic offerings - both within the region as well as wider-afield. It is important to highlight that Sandals has several Jamaican General Managers and Hotel Managers leading resorts in other islands across the Caribbean. Sandals can also categorically declare that several General Managers highlighted within the said video are very much born and bred Jamaicans. Sandals is proud of its commitment to developing its team members. Where an international chef is employed to maintain and authenticate the resort company's award-winning Global Five Star dining options, (Sandals is confident Jamaicans would rather showcase a Jamaican offering our world-famous Jerk) at the centre of Sandals' many years of success is training, and this presents a perfect opportunity for hands-on skills transfer to our local team.

Sandals Resorts International is a Jamaican company and prides itself on its very rich cultural heritage and offerings. Based on inconsistencies when directly booking performing acts for its growing and expanding group, in 2009 SRI made the decision to adjust its entertainment contracting process but at no time has it diverted from its firm commitment to emphasising our Jamaican culture and its people. This decision would allow Sandals a more standardised approach including insurance coverage and fluid communication channels and thus, several companies who were known to manage talents in the form of dancers, singers and musicians were approached. These included Alex Foster (ShowJams), Sharon Burke and Jackie Jackson, husband of the Jamaica Music Federation President, Karen Smith. At the end of the presentations, Hah-R-mony proved more feasible.

Currently 80 per cent of performers in our Jamaican resorts are Jamaicans. The remaining 20 per cent are used to execute circus shows, mainly as the local group capable of doing so is fully booked.

Sandals has provided avenues for talented Jamaicans to kick-start their careers. In July 2017 five graduates from the University of the West Indies who completed the Entertainment and Cultural Enterprises Management programme were selected to participate in an 18-month Sandals Management Trainee Programme. In addition, the Sandals Entertainment Division has a strong relationship with the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts as well as the Brown's Town Community College.

That these assertions are now being circulated under the guise of 'rumours' without accreditation to the video creator, its source or its content, are scurrilous at best. We can recall back in 2015 a contingent of senior SRI representatives met with a group of local entertainers and recommended that they source CSME Certificates to facilitate exploring movement into our non-Jamaican properties to provide much-sought after Jamaican performers. Sandals has heard nothing back and no-one has approached the company to take up this offer.

A closer inspection of the video indicates that this creation is a compilation of half-truths, purported rumours and blatant falsehoods, indicative of a lack of research; however we encourage the person or persons behind its creation and/or dissemination to contact us for further dialogue.

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