Police halt destruction of coastline by Flamingo Beach Hilton Vacation Club | THE DAILY HERALD

Before and after pictures show the extent of the damage to the Pelican Key shoreline.

PELICAN KEY–Police halted unauthorised construction activities along the Pelican Key, Simpson Bay, shoreline on the morning of Saturday, June 8, following reports from St. Maarten Pride Foundation. The organisation reported extensive damage to the natural rocky shoreline, including limestone rock formations and tidal pools, which had been filled in.

St. Maarten Pride Foundation had been notified of the damage by residents in the area on Friday evening. The next morning, at dawn, a completely different shoreline basked in the sun. Vegetation was cleared and parts of the sandy beach were covered with boulders, soil and what appeared to be construction debris, according to Rueben Thompson of St. Maarten Pride Foundation.

“We thank the concerned citizen who reached out to alert us,” said Thompson. “When will the destruction of what remains of our coastline end?”

Police responded promptly to the scene, speaking with a man who identified himself as the general manager of Flamingo Beach Hilton Vacation Club. The individual claimed to have permission from the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI, but refused to provide the documentation to the authorities. Consequently, the police ordered an immediate halt to the works.

Police had been in close contact with the VROMI Ministry before arrival and were informed that as far as the Ministry could determine, no permits had been issued. However, the general manager of Flamingo Beach Hilton Vacation Club was given the opportunity to explain himself before the stop order was issued.

St. Maarten Pride Foundation thanked the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM for their swift action. Special thanks were also given to the representatives of the Simpson Bay residents for the safeguarding of our heritage, who voiced their concerns and helped in contacting the authorities.

Flamingo Beach Hilton Vacation Club received a big welcome from the former Council of Ministers on September 21, 2022. Then acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Omar Ottley, former Minister of VROMI Egbert Doran and former Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion jointly announced the addition of Hilton Grand Vacation Club to the list of luxury brands on the island after the resort officially rebranded Flamingo and Royal Palm Beach Resorts that day.

The three ministers, together with former Minister of Justice Anna Richardson, were present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Ottley hailed the rebranding of the two timeshare resorts as a signal of great things to come for St. Maarten: “St. Maarteners must be proud of this achievement. Today, a global hospitality company has chosen to make a significant investment in branding two properties with more than 360 rooms, making it possible for the Hilton Vacation Club owners to have our 37-square-mile island as a future vacation option,” said Ottley.

“We must continue to work towards ensuring investor confidence in our destination. I believe that the former Flamingo Beach Resort and Royal Palm employees will continue to exhibit St. Maarten’s ‘Island flavour of hospitality’ to make our Hilton vacationers feel welcomed and at home.”

Doran said he was elated to be part of the rebranding: “Today is evidence that great things are

happening, and I am elated to be part of the rebranding. Bringing a luxury resort brand such as Hilton will help boost our economy and is an indication that our tourism will continue to grow.”

After inspecting the site where heavy machinery had been deployed by the Flamingo Beach Hilton Vacation Club last week, St. Maarten Pride Foundation issued a warning to the public. Visitors to the beach along the Pelican Key area, in front of Flamingo Beach Hilton Vacation Club, are urged to exercise caution. It is advised not to swim too close to or walk on the ground that was being illegally altered and extended by the resort earlier this weekend.

As the activities were not engineered or supervised, some boulders may be unstable, said Thompson. “We issued this warning out of an abundance of caution to prevent any potential injuries.”

St. Maarten Pride Foundation encourages the resort to take responsibility for its recent actions and place warning signs to ensure the safety of beach-goers.

The foundation calls on current acting VROMI Minister Veronica Jansen-Webster and the VROMI Ministry Inspection and Permits Departments to pursue all legal means towards holding the Flamingo Beach Hilton Vacation Club resort accountable for its actions and requiring it to take measures to restore the area to its natural state, to the extent possible.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/police-halt-destruction-of-coastline-by-flamingo-beach-hilton-vacation-club