FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert has confirmed that the preferred operator for the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort is Apple Leisure Group – North America's only vertically integrated travel, hospitality and leisure management group.
He made the announcement on Tuesday at the TT Chamber’s annual post-budget analysis breakfast meeting held at the Hyatt Regency.
Imbert said the "very established operator" he mentioned in his 2019/2020 budget presentation, which Government was having discussions about taking over the Magdalena Resort, was Apple Leisure Group. He said the group is the largest charter airline operator in the US.
"Once negotiations are successful it will not only bring a world-class brand, but it will also bring airlift. That was one of the reasons why it was selected as the preferred operator because they bring integrated solutions. That is one of the problems that Tobago has had – even if you build a hotel, you need to bring people to fill those hotels."
He said several foreign operators expressed interest in the Magdalena and discussions had taken place over the last several months. He predicted that within one month the negotiations with Apple Leisure Group should reach a conclusion. He said the proposed agreement with Apple was being fine-tuned and Government has asked the group take over the resort immediately while Government does renovation works due to sea blast.
"When the upgrade works are finished then the rebranding will begin."
The group's website said Apple Leisure Group accommodates more than 3.2 million passengers annually and has a travel agent network of 50,000. The group said it is an industry innovator that combines the expertise of 14 leading brands "which grants us the ability to oversee every aspect of the travel experience, from the moment a guest books a trip to the time they return home." Their resorts are under the brand AMResorts and the group brands operate in a variety of destinations including the Caribbean, US, Mexico, Hawaii and the South Pacific.
The state-owned Magdalena had an operating net loss of $276 million from 2008-2018.