2004-12-11 / Top News

Grand Hotel Executives Ponder March ‘05 Opening

Grand Hotel is awaiting word from attorneys as to whether the hotel must open by March 1 in order to hire more than 300 foreign nationals, who make up the majority of its summer staff. The hotel may be required to open two months earlier than it traditionally does to meet the required number of days to process foreign national worker applications through the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Grand Hotel may not be the only Island business that may have to rush to an early tourist season.

Last year, businesses were not allowed to apply for foreign national workers until 120 days before they were needed, and by the time some Island businesses applied, temporary work visa quotas had been filled.

Hiring foreign nationals has become more difficult since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, with more security safeguards imposed. What took only hours, for foreign national workers to receive a visa stamp at a U.S. embassy, now can take months.

On March 1, 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was abolished and its functions moved to three bureaus in the new Department of Homeland Security, one of them being the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Hotel Manager John Hulett said hotel officials may have to wait another two to three weeks before they know whether the March 1 opening date will be necessary. Usually the hotel opens at the beginning of May. In 2004, it opened May 4.

“We’re not sure yet if we are going to open in March; this could all be a moot point within a few weeks,” said Mr. Hulett. “If we decide we will open in March, then we will have some finite decisions to make.”

Grand Hotel President Dan Musser III said if an early opening is required, the hotel would probably use its new west wing and the Grand Stand kitchen.

Mr. Hulett said hotel executives, in the past, have discussed the possible benefits of opening the hotel for business during the winter and early spring.

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