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Hotel group says rumours are “false and hurtful”

Margaritaville Resort.

The company behind the Margaritaville Beach Resort has dismissed rumours claiming they are behind on their bills. 

The Howard Hospitality Group, who are also planning to build and operate the new multi-million dollar Pageant Beach Hotel, say any claims by employees or vendors not being paid are false. 

They insist they are “loyal to the good people of this Island” and say they are disappointed rumours are circulating showing them in a bad light. 

“Any claim of former employees or vendors not receiving payments is false,” said Michael Wilkings, president and COO of The HHG Companies. 

“If anyone has not received payment, it is because there is an active dispute that is, again, being handled privately.” 

One local construction company has started court proceedings against HHG claiming $640,000 unpaid for work carried out on the 285-room former Treasure Island resort. 

In a writ filed in June, Kee’s Construction and Management says HHG Advisory Services failed to pay for renovation and construction work. 

Mr. Wilkings says since the claim was filed, HHG have hired an independent, third party company to investigate and he says it’s not a case of his company owing Kee’s Construction money – but the other way around. 

He said: “On Aug. 15, a very detailed defense was filed with the court, as was a counterclaim for money that in reality, HHG is owed.   

HHG’s planned Pageant Beach development.

“The initial claim was completely unfounded as evidenced by the report, and we are confident the final ruling will be in HHG’s favour.” 

But it’s on the ground in Cayman were the latest rumours have surfaced. Staff both past and present have spoken to The Cayman Reporter claiming pay cheques arrive late on regular occasions and a number of distribution companies who provide food and drink for the resort have not been paid. 

Mr. Wilkings described these claims as “false and hurtful” adding:  “HHG will not address former employee or vendor issues in a public forum or in the media.  

“Any such matters have been, and will continue to be, handled privately, in a professional manner that is respectful to all involved.” 

He also insisted all staff health contributions made by the company have been paid. But when The Cayman Reporter asked is this the same case over pension payments, their U.S.-based public relations company would not provide an answer. 

But Mr. Wilkings did insist HHG are here to stay in Cayman and will continue to make a positive impact on the tourism industry. 

He added: “HHG has made its home on Grand Cayman and with several properties under development, we have invested more than $45 million already into the local economy.   

“We are loyal to the good people of this Island and while we are disappointed by the rumours that are apparently circulating, we maintain that this is a wonderful place to do business.   

“We will continue to push forward in every way possible to make a positive impact on the Caymanian tourism industry.” 



About Paul Kennedy

During a career that spans almost three decades, Paul has covered some of the biggest stories in the world for regional and national newspapers. A multi-award winning journalist and published author, he has worked for the past six years producing television news and documentaries in Cayman. Paul is also the host of a weekly football show. His dream story is to find a dog that can play piano.

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  1. Everything Mr Wilkins is saying is a lie I used to work there I left after I saw the way himself and other executives performed toward staff and guest . I wouldn’t have known my pension wasn’t being paid until I got a call by the pension company .

    • I left the company more than a year ago and only to find out from pension that they still owe them for my pension plan. Im going to apply for my pension refund soon and not sure if that will affect my refund.

  2. Another problem is the gratuities. It is so low that it seems like you are working for nothing. Is it legal for the gratuity to be less than a dollar CI. In June the hotel had a good turn out and 90% of the rooms was filled but the staff never got anything much out of that.The insurance and pension are not being paid. The staff get awesome ratings but still the staff get awful treatment from management. It is HORRIBLE.

  3. Everything that Mr Wilkins is saying is untrue. If you want proof, watch the property between 4.30pm and 5pm and you will see a green truck delivering water, because they have not even paid their water bill.Their liquor and wine supplier has cut them off of all purchases. The health insurance was only paid after 5 months of no payments, and staff got together and refused to work until the matter was resolved. After a subtle threat that anybody that refuses to work will be fired, they managed to rectify the matter. Whether all payments were made up to date or if health insurance was only activated that day is unsure. Now the pension. All the money deducted from employees paychecks has been embezzled, as nobody has received any pension payments for at least 5 months. Also, no notice was given about all of these failed payments, which is unlawful according to clause 29 in the pension laws. Yes, we have done our homework. It is time to expose this company for their lack of respect towards their employees and their contractors. “False and hurtful”…think how all the peoples’ livelihoods you are ruining. Stealing pensions? It’s just disgusting

  4. I am a worker of the hotel, what I can comment is that everything this man is saying is all lies. It has come down to so many employees leaving the company due to unpaid insurance and pension, late pay and grats dropping each and every pay day, disloyalty within the management departments and so much more. If everything is so call running smooth to Mr. Wilkings why is that even up to the managers are looking to jump ship and not letting line staff know what is going on. to be totally honest this company has lost so many hard working a motivated employees. And to make matters worst the insurance and pension company isn’t giving employees any information about their own money that is coming out of their pay every 2 weeks for the month .This hotel management is a big disappointment, if you are from the Cayman Islands they just don’t care about you.

  5. Still curious as to how they can start other projects when they still have not finished renovating the old Treasure Island Resort which they purchased in 2015.

  6. It really is a shame that some people carry such a grudge against a company that has invested so much on the island. I have been to Margaritaville and have seen many employees that are so happy to be part of something new. I guess it is not for everyone!

  7. LOL! They still have not finished renovating the old Treasure Island Hotel, which they purchased in 2015! What kind of “developers” are they?

  8. This been a very odd project from day one. Based on recent online reviews it’s clear that some of the work is far from finished and you do have to wonder how HHG got the appropriate licences to re-open the place to guests.

    I lived in TI, as it was, for a year and the place was a complete tip. Judging by the mould in most of the rooms on the lower levels they had never been properly dried out since Ivan had flooded them in 2004. A friend of mine, who has worked in the contruction industry for nearly 40 years, said the only way to remediate the place was with a wrecking ball – his opinion was it made more sense to demolish the structure and do a complete ground-up rebuild. Part on that was based on the condition of the structure but it also took into consideration the fact that the existing building is a very inefficient use of the available land.

  9. It seems that the “Developers” of this project may be yet another group of unsavory business people.
    Given the many comments from staff, Suppliers and vendors, there is little doubt that “things” are not well at that property.
    Given all of that, it is incumbent on the powers that be to make sure that all outstanding matters are properly settled BEFORE this group is allowed to undertake another project and then only if adequate funding is held in escrow!
    We should have learned our lessons by now!

  10. Lies and manipulation from day 1. Good luck going forward.