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Rubbish! Tryall directors dismiss charge that skin colour cost Jamaican the MD's job

Published:Sunday | February 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor

The leadership of the Hanover-based Tryall Club has scoffed at claims by one of the island's top hoteliers that he was not given the job as managing director of the facility because he is black.

"If you speak to any player in the tourism industry in Jamaica and ask them about Sam James, they will tell you about an individual with a proven success record. Therefore, I am at a loss as to why some members of the board would object to having this level of expertise, competence, and experience, except it is because of the colour of my skin," James told The Sunday Gleaner.

But last week, members of the Board of Tryall, in their first public response since the anti-Jamaican controversy broke late last year, rejected this charge as they explained why another experienced hotelier, the naturalised Jamaican Aram Zerunian, was selected over James.

"It was unfortunate for Mr James, and if we had a position we could give him, we would give him because he is a very talented man, but Mr Zerunian's skills are unique to our environment, while Mr James' skills are extraordinarily good but are not unique to our situation," said Tryall director Christopher Crane, who led the selection committee.

"James has a wonderful reputation and references that are unimpeachable ... he did a wonderful job while he was here. For years and years, we have struggled to find managing directors, and here we get two who would be excellent," added Crane.

The Tryall director confirmed that the former president had offered the job to James and that some members of the board were dissatisfied with the initial selection process.

"We had not fulfilled the method by which we should select a managing director, and that argument came up before anybody knew who Mr James was or whether he was black or white."

According to Crane, when the subcommittee of the board started its hunt for other candidates, it was made clear that James was a candidate and that he was one of two persons shortlisted when the search was done.

"Our recommendation was that we wanted Mr Zerunian, but we also asked the board to vote, which they did, that if we could not reach accord with Mr Zerunian, we would agree to hire Mr James to fill the position without any further review or investigation of any other candidate," declared Crane.


He was supported by interim president Julia Utsch, who was devastated by the allegation of racism in the selection.

"The issue of colour never entered our minds in making a decision," said Utsch as she heaped praise on James for the work he did while he acted as a consultant at the upscale property.

Utsch argued that Zerunian received the final nod because he had managed a similar property with a major golf course.

With several Jamaicans holding senior management positions at Tryall, Utsch declared that the issue of skin colour has never been a factor at the upscale facility, which operates in a family-type atmosphere.