Posted on 23 December 2016.
By Bennette Roach
There are many who waited to hear the news of this day, Tuesday, December 20, 2015, when Cedric Osborne, general manager, Vue Pointe Hotel announced to a small gathering of invited guests; after ‘thanking our Heavenly Father’, “I appreciate your presence at this blessing and viewing of the first phase of the refurbishment of the iconic Vue Pointe Hotel.”
Following very brief chairman opening remarks Roman Catholic priest Fr. Mark Schram prayed, giving thanks to God remembering that we are always in the presence of God, that it is only by God’s grace that we are here, thanks for life, for our life, for island life, for what once was, and for what will be rising from the ashes – for all who have passed through these walls and all who will…;then sprinkling the walls walls with holy water.
‘Mr. Cedric’ as he was and still is, affectionately called by many and staff continued to tell of a history, I heard for the first time. It was in December 1961, Fifty-five years ago, the Vue Pointe Hotel was opened, and Cedric to over in 1967 following his father’s (Michael Symons Osborne, better known as “Mas Gen”) unexpected death, as the general manager. Mas Gen had managed the hotel with the assistance of my mother, Sylvia, from 1961-1967.
He recalls, 1959-1960 was the dawn of the real-estate development in Montserrat encouraged by the then Chief Minister, the late W. H . Bramble. And how, “The Vue Pointe Hotel has had some good times and bad times. We developed a thriving repeat guest business which enabled us to expand and add a much needed conference center in 1986. This conference center was in great demand and became the venue for many local and regional meetings and events.”
In a look back at how the hotel functioned for most of its 55 years, Cedric who at various points reminded that he will not personally be involved with the hotel as, “the spirit is willing, the flesh is a bit weak.”
He told: “…Hurricane Hugo in September 1989 and the Vue Pointe Hotel sustained catastrophic damage.
In July 1995, the Volcanic Crisis began. The Vue Pointe Hotel played a strategic part in the continuity of life in Montserrat. As the volcanic activity increased and all of the residents south of the Belham River were evacuated, the Vue Pointe became the center for information and administration.
The Montserrat Volcano Observatory was relocated to the Pelican room of the Michael “Gen” Osborne Conference Centre. This room was later used for church services, the legislative assembly, a court house, the Chief Ministers Office, Chamber of Commerce and Rotary meetings, weddings, Theater productions, …etc., etc.
Unfortunately, as the activity became more threatening, we were closed for the first time in 1997. We were allowed to reopen in 1999 and closed again in 2002. We reopened again in 2005 and were closed again in 2007.
Then, “Our recent renovation began in 2014 and as you can see we are continuing to refurbish,” he said.
He informed on the status of the hotel as the event was merely a blessing and viewing of the first phase of the refurbishment of the Hotel.
“Since our repairs have begun in 2014 we have employed more than 20 persons in various fields and expended over $250,000.00 in wages alone. However, the repairs and refitting of four cottages for accommodation is still earmarked for March 2017,” he said.
He thanked various persons and workers who have been involved in the operations so far. These included his wife Carol, for the interior decoration, for conscientiously trying to keep us within budget and for assisting me by taking on most of the supervision…And most especially to our son Michael, who and son Michael, who put his career aside to assist us with two weeks of hard work and final touches.
He acknowledged fianacial support from Government: “Special thanks to the Premier and his government for the financial assistance which enabled us to continue our renovation.”
The Osborne Hotels Ltd have begun seeking interests in various departments of the hotel.
The Premier Hon Don Romeo along with Her Excellency Governor, Elizabeth Carriere, Minister Delmaude Ryan, the Financial Secretary, Hon. Ag. Attorney General were among the several guests at the event.
The Premier was asked to give brief remarks during which he informed, “it was because of Viewpoint Hotel that the tourism growth fund was started. It inspired me to get a tourism growth fund that would enable Vue Pointe Hotel to get going.
“The Vue Pointe means a lot to me,” he said. He told of the prominent role that Viewpoint played, “not just in providing jobs but training people.”
Excellent service The Premier said that as he (Cedric) said he would not manage anymore, “I must beg him, please come around and make sure you transfer those skills you transferred to your son Michael and the others, it’s very important.”
He continued, “We didn’t just invest in a facility being reopened, we invested in people who have the capacity to develop others to the level that we want. I know that Montserrat’s future is bright because of tourism, but the main thing we need to improve is customer service.”
Speaking of his own knowledge of the Vue Pointe and its impact, he contributed, “It was not just a place where people came together, not just a place where people came to have fun and meet people, but it really birth a lot of new development in the area and investment.”
He said he is proud to have invested; “in fact the Osborne’s spent probably more than three times what we invested. It created jobs…” as he noted from a conversation he had with officials from St. Barts which he said is rated by the visitors who come by the tour ship, second to Montserrat.
“Montserrat is number one. Number one already and that is significant so Mr. Osborne, please tell all the investors, all of the Osbornes, to be bold and invest because there’s a bright future for Viewpoint Hotel.”
The guests were invited to stay at the end, as they did, with light refreshments; browsed the surroundings, enjoying the magnificent views on the way.
See more pics on our facebook page click here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154343103745852.1073742049.203080105851&type=1&l=e9a9ec1267