Fairmont Southampton redundancies timeline
December 2019: The Fairmont Southampton, built in 1972, is purchased by Gencom, a Miami-based hotel investment firm. Karim Alibhai, Gencom’s founder, announces plans for a substantial restoration of the island’s biggest resort.
March 2020: Covid-19 is declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. The island shuts down cruise ships and the airport closes to commercial flights. The first island cases are confirmed. Fairmont Southampton lays off staff. The hotel is used as a quarantine centre for returning residents.
April 2020: Bermuda declares a state of emergency, including a lockdown that hammers the hospitality sector.
July 2020: Fairmont Southampton management advises up to 150 foreign staff to make arrangements to leave Bermuda.
August 2020: Limited air travel resumes – but the forecast for hotels remains grim.
September 2020: The Fairmont Southampton’s closure for renovations, projected to last 18 months, is announced for October 23 and it is confirmed staff will be made redundant.
October 2020: After Gencom fails to meet its first deadline for redundancy payouts to former staff, the firm contacts the Bermuda Government for help in meeting its obligations. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, later says the sides have been unable to reach an agreement. The Government starts to come up with plans to bail out staff in advance of Gencom’s November 20 deadline.
November 2020: With close to 700 staff still unpaid, the Government steps in with its own $11 million bailout, starting one week ahead of the November 20 deadline. Ex-staff from the Fairmont agree to a class action law suit against Gencom’s firm Westend Properties so that the Government can recoup its money.
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