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Saturday, May 18, 2024


Marriott Frenchman's Reef's administration has set the ball in motion to get rid of several top management personnel left over from the 20-plus years that Nick Pourzal managed the hotel.
Five top executives who collectively have more than 60 years at the Reef are having their "contracts returned to Prime," according to several sources who declined to speak for attribution due to the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations.
The contracts in question were drawn up when Prime Hospitality Corp. still owned the Reef. They have become a bone of contention between Prime and Marriott International Inc., which purchased the hotel earlier this year. Prime fired Pourzal last summer while the sale was being negotiated.
The five executives are:
— Carole Oriol, who has been head of human resources for nine years and before that was executive assistant to Pourzal; she has worked at the Reef for 20 years.
— Michael Akin, director of engineering, who has been with the hotel for 22 years.
— Andrew HeLal, who served as interim general manager when Pourzal left the Reef and has been with the hotel for five years.
— Mehdi Magvi, the comptroller since 1997.
— Doyle I. Bolton, head of maintenance, who has worked for Frenchman's Reef for 27 years.
According to one source, the Pourzal managers were told when Marriott took over that they had six months to "prove themselves." The six months is up Sept. 15.
However, last week the five managers got a short letter saying, "Lawyers of Prime and Marriott have determined that as of Aug. 1 your contract will be reassigned back to Prime Hospitality."
Some of them reportedly aren’t sure what the letter meant, but one said, "We're being let go – no matter what the verbiage is."
When also remains in question. Though the letter indicated the contracts were being returned to Prime as of Aug. 1, one person said it would likely be Sept. 15 before their work at the Reef would end.
Reef General Manager Jayne Hillner, who declined to comment on the move to get rid of the five executives, reportedly has told several people that the decision was not performance-based.
In a staff meeting Thursday, Hillner said the layoffs were a "business decision," according to several sources.
The five executives were also told they were free to reapply to the Reef, the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort or the Ritz-Carlton – all of which are owned or managed by Marriott.
"Prime has the responsibility to settle" the amounts remaining on the three-year contracts, according to one source.
The sale of the hotel has been acrimonious — at least one lawsuit is pending — and the existing management contracts have become part of the friction.
Some insiders at the Reef have speculated that the contracts have come up now because the hotel is about to be sold again, though Marriott would continue to manage the property.
Of 3,247 hotel rooms on St. Thomas, Marriott holds 30 percent of them with a combined 946 rooms.
Hillner could not be reached for comment Monday, but an assistant said, when asked about the dismissals, "Miss Hillner will not comment on that today."
Two public relations directors at Prime also did not return phone calls Monday.
Meanwhile, some of the managers reportedly intend to report to work Tuesday, thus testing the Aug. 1 deadline referred to in last week’s letter.

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