The Magdalena Grand

Finance Minister Colm Imbert has revealed that US-based travel and hospitality conglomerate, Apple Leisure Group, is the “brand manager” Government is in talks with to take over operatorship of Tobago’s 198-room Magdalena Grand and Golf Resort.

Imbert revealed the name of the company at a post-budget breakfast meeting hosted this morning by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, at the Hyatt Regency.

Apple Leisure Group is the parent company of resort and brand management company AMResorts and its loyalty programme, Unlimited Vacation Club.

It is said to be the Caribbean’s fastest-growing resort company, which, for the year already, has signed resort management deals in Cancun Mexico, Acapulco, the Dominican Republic, Riviera Maya and Curacao, through its AMResorts brand.

“Those of you in the tourism business would know that the Apple Leisure Group is the largest charter airline operator in the United States. It is the largest vertically-integrated vacation resort company and it will bring Tobago, once the negotiations are successful, not only a world class brand but it will also bring airlift,” Imbert announced this morning.

“And that is one of the reasons why they were selected as the preferred operator because they bring an integrated solution to Tobago. And that is one of the problems Tobago has had. Even if you build hotels you need to bring people to fill those hotels to bring the necessary income and foreign exchange,” he said.

He said several foreign operators expressed interest in Magdalena but Apple Leisure was deemed the best.

He said Government has been in discussions with Apple Leisure over the last several months.

“I would think we maybe have one more month and then we can reach a conclusion once all parties agree. We’re just fine-tuning the proposed agreement between that group and the Government.

We have asked them to take over the hotel as-is-where is,” Imbert stated.

He said once upgrade works are finished, Magdalena may possibly be rebranded AMResorts.

In his budget presentation on Monday, Imbert announced that a vertically-integrated travel and hospitality conglomerate has shown confidence in Tobago as a destination poised for growth and expansion.

“This brand manager who focuses on packaged travel and resort and brand management will assume operatorship while the Government is undertaking the rehabilitation and outfitting works on the hotel,” he said.