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Pints for a Private Beach: DCA removes beach bar for ‘Chic’ new view

How do you value years of service to the tourism industry and even longer representing your country on the international stage? That’s the question that business owner Peter Kelsick is asking the new hoteliers at Dickenson Bay.

Seaside view of parts of the new Royalton Chic hotel

Former Olympian Peter Kelsick was happy to retire his beach bar to the Royalton Chic Hotel scheduled to open on April 29, when uttering about the development’s backlash for locals in public, jump started what seems to be the beginning of another private beach development saga. 

The 73-year-old had operated Sneaky Pete’s for 40 years on the edge of Dickenson Bay beach. He made a lifetime of friends and customers who by all accounts said “Pete loves Antigua and Barbuda”. 

That love is on full display, having now refused to take money offered to him by the hotel management to move his bar from the beach side. According to Kelsick, the hotel said his facility would block the view of high-end clientele who will eventually occupy the beach-side rooms.

There is also a facility under construction by the hotel, a pencil’s measurement from Sneaky Pete that sits approximately two feet taller than the bar.  Some say it’s a guard quarter, others an entertainment site. Workers were busy with construction when we visited on Monday afternoon. 

“Several years ago, that was put there in an attempt to push me out,” he said, recalling that long before Royalton, attempts were made by other buyers of the property owners to remove him.

Royalton, he said, initially offered to relocate him but according to Kelsick that was a “non-starter” as there was no other place on the beach to relocate to. So, he agreed to take compensation for them having to order the destruction of the property. “I had been given notice to vacate there since December.” 

He said he had no qualms with accepting, seeing that he had done his time at the location and was willing to move on. But then, Kelsick said they threatened to cut down the offer by more than half because he made the matter public. “I have decided not to accept the offer that the people at Royalton made to me. I was asked to file an injunction to stop the demolition of my building which will be done on Wednesday,” he shared. 

Kelsick said he would much rather fight against hotels trying to force locals off the public beaches. Other businesses who occupy the beach front attest to plans by the hotel to block one of only two access roads to the beach. Reports are that they plan to erect a small building directly in front of the foot path that both locals and visitors use. 

Area where one vendor continued her trade.

Ten vendors who operated in an assigned mall area at the old Halcyon Cove hotel have also been displaced. A beach bar and restaurant has been erected by the hotel in an area where they sold trinkets and souvenirs. One vendor by the name Sugar sought refuge alongside a local businesswoman who allowed her to ply her trade. However, the others, she said, have relocated or are not working. Vending is Sugar’s only source of income. She shared that “I never work nowhere else. When mi 11 me stop from school to help my mother work and me was the breadwinner up til’ today.”

She wants the new hoteliers to make preparations for a vendor mall. “They should find a spot for the vendors because Mr. Bird [the late prime minister Sir Lester Bird] say, every hotel must have a vendor mall. That’s what Mr. Bird say years and years ago.”

Area where one vendor continued her trade

The facility where she was given refuge is also under threat of being sold. While it sits on private land, the business woman there says efforts are being made to take the facility away from her. A matter has been filed in court to contest her removal. 

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez said he was unaware of the vendor’s plight as no reports had been made to him. As for Kelsick, he claimed that the man only changed his mind after consorting with members of the opposition, claiming to have seen him partaking in a United Progressive Party (UPP) meeting just days before he had a change of heart.  

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But Kelsick said it was the disrespect of the hotel that cemented his decision not to move. “It’s not all about money” … “My responsibility now is to stand up and to fight these people and their biased programmes to ensure that the rest of us that live here are entitled to participate in the tourism projects and programmes,” he said. 

The Development Control Authority (DCA) was scheduled to demolish Sneaky Pete Wednesday but when he arrived at the location this morning, it had already been torn down. 

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Carseafarm

    April 23, 2024 at 11:32 am

    I cannot believe this! This is so shocking. The nature of tourism on the island has changed completely and pretty much all small, indigenous, artisan enterprises have been forcebly destroyed!

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