Soil falling from golden shovels was welcomed with cheers as dignitaries and hundreds in attendance celebrated the ground breaking of the $100m luxury resort development, the Shore Club on Long Bay, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, January 17.
Long Bay, a spot where kite boarders usually dot the horizon whilst skimming through the shallow waters of the beloved stretch of beach, is where developer Stan Hartling envisioned the spectacle of a new resort's groundbreaking for some time.
“To say I have anticipated this day for a long time is an understatement,” said Hartling Group CEO Stan Hartling. “This has been seven years in the dream,” he told the 250 graduating high school students invited to partake in the festivities. “So please, take that with you today to not give up, the day will come when you do get there.”
The ground breaking begins a phase of construction that is estimated to last approximately two years. When completed, the nine-acre property will feature 38 condos and six luxury villas, plus amenities such as three swimming pools, a spa and restaurants. Hartling is also the developer of the Sands Resort and the Regent Palms Resort, both located on Grace Bay.
Reiterating Hartling’s message to preserve and achieve your dreams was Olympic Gold Medalist Sanya Richards-Ross who turned one of the first piles of soil. Richards-Ross was born in Jamaica, migrating to the US as a young girl with her family. She won Olympic gold three times in the 4×400 meters relay, at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China and in the London 2012 Olympics. She also won an individual bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics and won the gold medal in the 400m at the 2012 Olympics.
Although it's been some time since the Turks and Caicos has had occasion for such an event, the Shore Club development appears to be the start of a new trend. “2014 is a great year for Turks and Caicos,” said the Honorable Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing.
After years of a stagnating economy, the Shore Club's groundbreaking represents an encouraging sign that powerhouse industries construction and tourism are on the upswing.
“No stronger statement of confidence is made than someone on the ground investing their time and money which shows that they believe in this country and that they are willing to invest again,” said Deputy Leader of the People’s Democratic Movement, Sean Astwood.
The development, seven years in the making, was propelled forward in 2013 when it was announced that Cayman-based DECCO would join as partners in the project. “For them to come here and have faith in all of us is another sign we are doing something right,” Hartling said of the DECCO commitment. Optimism was a sentiment shared by many who attended the morning ceremony. “I am very optimistic about TCI,” said H.E. Governor Peter Beckingham. “I think it has a great future and I think the development today illustrates that.”
David Bowen, Director for the government's Ministry of Culture, acted as MC for the ceremony. With the national anthem being sung by Indera Harvey from Raymond Gardiner High School, the national song performed by four students from Clement Howell High School, and lunches for the day prepared and served by students from the TCI Community College, the developer’s intention to engage young Turks and Caicos Islanders in the future of the development was clear.
“Students, this is a very important day,” the Honorable Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing told the students who visited the construction site to be a part of the ground-breaking ceremony. “You are the future workers in this resort. You are the ones that will ensure that this project is successful for years and years to come.” Hartling's sons, Ben and Sam, also presented a check for the Turks and Caicos Scholarship Fund in the amount of $35,000 on behalf of the Hartling Group to Deputy Premier and Minister of Education, Youth, Sport and Library Services the Hon. Akierra Missick.
A career fair followed the ceremony, where over 20 local firms presented themselves to the local students. Richards-Ross also had the chance to speak and interact with the students, where she re-conveyed Hartling's inspiring anecdotes of setbacks before eventual triumph and encouraging the luncheon guests to never give up on their dreams. Forget how long it takes, how hard it is, and how unlikely it seems - dream, work, and believe in yourself - it will come, she said.