Sunseeker Resort won’t share fine print of $100K retention bonus

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

You’ve heard the pitch: a $100,000 retention bonus to work at the new Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor. The company says it’ll pay you $10,000 per year after 10 years of continuous employment, but what you don’t know about the bonus could impact your decision to go for it.

Sunseeker Resort retention bonus announcement

$100,000 is a good chunk of money, and if you don’t mind waiting until 2033 for the first $10,000 installment and then working 20 years to get it all, the deal could work for you. But I have questions about the retention bonus that can’t be answered with the company’s press release and website. So I’m on the hunt for the fine print.

The signs are everywhere.

Companies in Southwest Florida need help, and Sunseeker Resort is no exception. The Charlotte Harbor hotel is resorting to retention bonuses to get you—and another 1,200 people—through its doors.

Construction continues on Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor, August 8, 2023

Shannon Ryan, Sunseeker Resort’s human resources and recruiting manager, explained why in a July interview with WINK News.

Shannon Ryan, Human Resources/Recruiting Manager at Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor

“It’s the chance for us to invest back in those team members that are investing their time and commitment to us,” said Ryan. “It’s unheard of anywhere. It’s awe-inspiring.”

But is the deal really “unheard of” and “awe-inspiring”?

“At the end of the day, this is not that unusual,” said Fort Myers Attorney Scot Goldberg.

Scot Goldberg, Fort Myers attorney

Goldberg said retention bonuses can also lead to disappointment if you don’t understand all the rules, restrictions and what-ifs before you commit.

“How will that be affected if there’s a sale? How would that be affected if you leave and come back, or if they lay you off? You know, there’s a lot of things that are unknowns,” said Goldberg.

I asked Ryan for the fine print of the deal to fill in the blanks. She told me to seek out marketing. I did. Marketing would not provide me with those details, so I went up the chain.

Sunseeker is owned by Allegiant Travel Company. I called and emailed—no response.

I hit the road for the Sunseeker’s latest job fair at CareerSource Southwest Florida to get my questions about the $100,000 retention bonus answered. I met Bailey Foote from Sunseeker Resort.

I wanted to know how many prospective employees ask about the bonus when they walk through the door.

“A lot, actually,” Foote said. “I think that is something that’s getting people really, really motivated about working here… You know, we all like money, so I think it’s a really good thing.”

Foote admitted she doesn’t know everything in the fine print.

“I actually just found out today [8/10/23] that does not… whether you take maternity or paternity leave or anything like that, that does not get in the way,” said Foote.

I asked more questions:

Celine: “What happens if I get laid off?”

Foote: “So that is more of a question for HR. I don’t know a whole lot about that.”

Celine: “What if the company is sold?”

Foote: “That’s also a good question. You know, like I said, this is all still like a learning point for everyone.”

Foote said an HR representative was at the job fair, so we tracked her down together. It turned out to be Shannon Ryan, who wouldn’t answer our questions.

Ryan: “Unfortunately, I can’t do that. Everything has to go through our marketing department, and it will have to be scheduled.”

Celine: “As I told you, the marketing department says they won’t do it.”

Ryan: “I understand, but I have no authority on that… I am going to have to ask you to leave for today.”

While the Sunseeker $100,000 deal made headlines, Goldberg said many companies don’t broadcast employment benefits that could be worth even more to you, so look at the whole package.

“If you took somebody working for me for 10 years,” said Goldberg, “let’s say we pay $10,000, a little over $11,000 a year for health insurance coverage for each employee. There’s 100 grand we pay, we match our 401k, that’s probably another between five and seven grand a year with the employee. So, after 10 years, you know, we’re probably close to $150,000 of spending that money on employees.”

In the end, it’s hire beware.

“You have to be careful,” said Goldberg.

Remember, wherever you get a job, get everything promised to you in writing.

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