Mere weeks into the new tourist season, tension appears to be mounting between a well-established lounge chair vendor and a major hotel on the West Coast.
Derry Bayley, owner of Rico’s on the Beach, at Alleyne’s Bay, Mount Standfast, St James, claims he is again being subjected to arbitrary restrictions from National Conservation Commission (NCC) rangers and security officers at the nearby Fairmont Royal Pavilion.
The frustrated businessman explained that a NCC ranger had drawn a black line on a wall that he and his clientele have been instructed not to cross. He has been threatened that his permit to operate on the beach would be revoked if he failed to comply.
“The hotel and the NCC are challenging me continuously with space. They have drawn a line on the wall and every time I passed the line, they have asked me to move my stuff and are complaining that the people in my chairs are affecting their guests,” Bayley said, as he set out his chairs on Friday morning.
The upset vendor claims his beach chairs always remain metres away from the Royal Pavilion and are never placed in front of the hotel. According to Bayley, his intention is not to take over the beach, but to be given the chance to sit with all parties involved and reach an amicable solution to the impasse.
“I was never questioned. I was just told like a little child ‘Ya see that line there? Don’t pass it and if you pass that line, I am going to take away your licence’. I was never asked how much space I would need, how much space might be good enough or anything like that. I was treated like a child and pushed to the side. It’s like someone is coming to me saying ‘I am your daddy, and I say don’t go there and that is what you are supposed to do’,” he complained.
When contacted, an official from the Fairmont Royal Pavilion said an agreement had been forged with the lounge chair operator sometime last year, but declined to share the details of that agreement. The official, however, said a more comprehensive statement might be given in the near future.
But Bayley denies there was any agreement reached, citing an incident which occurred earlier this year as proof that all is not well. He said that on February 27, he was approached by police from the Holetown Police Station after hotel officials complained that his lounge chairs were illegally placed, and an inconvenience to the hotel’s beach club.
Bayley, who has been operating his business for some time and employs a number of young men in the Mount Standfast area, told Barbados TODAY he was on the verge of a bumper tourist season in terms of sales and explained that many of his customers book their lounge chairs online in advance. However, uncertainty about beach access has left him in a bind.
Nevertheless, he said that management at luxury guesthouse, Footprints Villa House and Cottage has been so impressed by his business practices over the years that they contracted him to provide the same service for their guests.
“I have people that pay for their entire vacation up front and they book up front. So when I come here on mornings I am pulling out beds that are already booked or paid for.
“I have people that want to pay me up front for a number of days in a particular spot and I am unable to cater for them because of the restrictions, and some people have turned back because of the problem,” he added.
So frustrated is Bayley, that he wrote Chief Product Development Officer at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) Marsha Alleyne for assistance, but he says he has received no response. Barbados TODAY’s efforts to reach Alleyne have also been unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, General Manager at the NCC, Ryan Als was not in office when Barbados TODAY reached out, and calls to Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod, whose ministry is responsible for the NCC, went unanswered.