The company will close for refurbishment ahead of the busiest time of year for Caribbean resorts – although the closure has been reduced from an originally planned five months to just three.
It is the first time the Sandals Grande Antigua, which is a couples only resort, has closed in 25 years.
But the decision has angered Travellers who were booked to stay at the resort, and some are claiming to be thousands of pounds out of pocket.
One British couple, Mark Ingham and Sharon Osborne, both 55, had planned to wed at the idyllic five star beachside location on September 21st.
But now their plans are in tatters thanks to the sudden decision by Sandals to shut down.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr Ingham said: “My fiancée hasn’t stopped crying since we found out. We’re absolutely crushed and just have no idea what to do. This was meant to be our big day which we had been planning for months and months and Sandals has ruined it.
“We’re out of pocket to the tune of thousands of pounds. It had been our dream to get married in Antigua and now it’s in tatters.”
The Basingstoke based couple were told they would have to reschedule after December 17th, when the rest reopens, by their travel company Blue Bay.
They said they have already spent £3,900 for the wedding and holiday, £545 for a photographer and another £315 on other wedding items.
They have had to inform their guests, some of whom were travelling in from all over the world.
Mr Ingham said Blue Bay had told him that at least four other couples have had to cancel or postpone their wedding at the resort.
And it is not just holidaymakers left fuming by the decision – the Antiguan government is also baffled.
Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne called the decision “an act of hostility” as he accused the company of using the shutdown as a way to win concessions, such as tax breaks, from the government.
Speaking to The Antigua Observer he said: “It is clearly an act of sabotage and I am saying that no investor should be able to treat our people in that way.”
Sandals Resorts International chairman Gordon Stewart said in a statement: “There is no convenient time to inconvenience people, and while many hotels in Antigua have traditionally closed on an annual basis, we have not and recognise the dramatic consequences this action has on our staff, industry and destination partners, vendors and of course, guests.
“We humbly and sincerely apologize and promise, Sandals will take care of you. Our team is committed to handling this period in the most professional and practical way possible.”
Stewart appointed Sandal Resorts International Chief Operations Officer Shawn DaCosta to take all necessary steps to engage with affected staff, union representatives and government officials in Antigua.
Stewart said: “Shawn will drive our compressed schedule to ensure that this maintenance work commences and completes on time. The local economy is tied to ours and we sincerely hope our effort to shorten the closure period is helpful to them.”
Source : EXPRESS