Timeshare and holiday clubs will no longer be sold at the Radisson Blu Golden Sands Resort and Spa, in a move that is expected to see around 80 people lose their jobs.

Employees at Azure Services Ltd, the company that handles timeshare sales and marketing for the resort, were told in an email that “the majority” of staff would be made redundant to make way for an “elite team” to take forward a “new strategy”.

One staff member said it was “terrible and insensitive news to break just ahead of Christmas”.

Azure Services Ltd was set up in 2003 specifically to sell vacation ownership at the Radisson Blu Golden Sands, the five-star hotel that dominates the skyline
at Golden Bay beach.

At one point it was linked to former Manchester United players Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, who invested in Island Hotels Group, the company that formerly managed the hotel.

In 2015, the Corinthia Group assumed a 50 per cent share of Azure, as part of their takeover of the Island Hotels Group. The remaining 50 per cent is
owned by a group consisting of international investors.

In an email sent to its employees on Monday, the company said it would no longer sell timeshare or holiday clubs but would instead focus on servicing its thousands of existing timeshare members.

“Azure has successfully grown its members’ base at Golden Sands since its launch in 2003,” it said.

“The remaining developer stock available for sale no longer permits this strategy to be pursued. Accordingly, during 2020, Azure will be changing its focus toward servicing the existing members’ base.

“Inevitably, in consequence of this new strategy going forward, the majority of the sales and marketing teams will need to be made redundant to make place for an elite team of marketing and sales staff selected to promote and take forward this new strategy.

“In parallel, there will also be a restructuring of the other service departments.”

Staff speaking to Times of Malta said around 120 employees would be affected.

However, a spokesman for the Golden Sands Resort and Azure Services said 60 full-timers and 17 part-timers would go, with the remaining employees “retained to manage member-related services and relations”.

A spokesman for the Golden Sands Resort and Azure Services Limited said the timeshare sales operation had “over the years successfully sold the lion’s share
of its timeshare allocation” at the hotel.

“As a consequence, the owners have for some time now been planning a strategic restructuring of the business, away from the sale of timeshare products and services, focusing more on traditional high-end tourism at the resort.”

This entailed a review of all departments including the company’s sales and marketing teams, he said.

“This will impact some 60 fulltimers and other part-timers. Any action will be made in line with all local regulations.”

The spokesman said both sets of shareholders remained committed to the future of the resort as a “high end luxury destination.” The shareholders have also affirmed that Azure and the Golden Sands Resort would fully honour all the timeshare commitments arising from obligations that were entered into with existing members.

Thousands of people – largely from Malta, Britain and Sweden – have entered into contracts of up to 25 years that allow them to holiday at the hotel for one or two week periods of time a year.

More recently, the company had diversified into selling membership of a points-based holiday club, called Azure X, that allows members access to motor yachts supercars and other hotels, including those owned by the Corinthia Group.

It is understood that, at one stage, there were plans to sell timeshare at a tourism village planned for Ħal Ferħ in Għajn Tuffieħa.