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Buying back


by Roy R. Morris

almondbeachvillaeTwo days after dissolving Parliament and calling elections for February 21, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will sit with his Cabinet to “agree” to buy back the Almond Beach Village and its brand name for almost $110 million.

The plan, being piloted by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, calls for a US $10 million refurbishment project, after which the sprawling 400-room facility will be turned over to former staff, who have submitted a plan to operate it.

In so doing, Government has effectively rejected three private sector proposals to the current property owners, Neal and Massy Ltd of Trinidad and Tobago — from Paul Doyle of Crane Resorts, real estate developer Bjorn Bjerkhamn and Sandals Resorts International of Jamaica.

According to sources, while the Doyle plan would eventually lead to an upgraded 500-room facility, the “build-out could take years and depend on the sale of time share and will not protect the island vital airlift from the United Kingdom or significantly increase long-stay visitors.

And while Bjerkhamn plans to demolish the property and build a high-end hotel and condos around a marina, with public recreational facilities and high-end shopping, it would not protect airlift or significantly increase long-stay traffic.

On the other hand, while Government appears disposed to the Sandals option because of its capacity to increase long-stay visitors, protect airlift and increase the island’s tourism visibility, while injecting almost US $800 million into the economy over five years, it was worried about the negative impact of demolishing the property and taking three years to rebuild it. Government also has reservations about the fact that it calls for a US $248 million injection from Government.

Listed as Option 4 — Government’s proposal, Cabinet is expected to be told:

“The Ministry of Tourism believes that the proposal by Sandals Resort International is the best of the three… However, there is now an even more urgent need to bring the Almond room stock back into production as recent estimates show that as many as 1,000 rooms in Barbados are currently out of production. This will make it difficult to achieve growth in the 2012/13 winter season and beyond.

“In view of the urgency of this need, it is now proposed that Government seek to immediately acquire Almond Beach Village property and the Almond brand name with a view of reopening in an effort to supplement room stock for 2013 and beyond and to achieve the twin objectives of:

“Increasing the number of long-stay visitors that come to Barbados each year; and protecting existing airlift in critical source markets.”

Minister Sealy is expected to tell his colleagues that while prominent hotelier Bernie Weatherhead has expressed an interest in running the property, “the proposal from former employees is to reopen the entire hotel under the Almond brand after renovations over a three-month period. It therefore represents a

*Continued on Pages 4 & 5

5 Responses to Buying back

  1. Tony Webster January 30, 2013 at 4:54 am

    Behold the future, bleeding on the altar of expediency! You really mean to say, that the best LONG-TERM interest of this country, is to be sacrificed so capriciously like this? Unbelievable!

  2. Andrew Jordan January 30, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Didn’t we try this before, with this property and “The Gems”
    maybe government is NOT the best “organization” to run a hotel, we know from experience that they (government workers) are NOT as thrifty as private sector workers/professionals.
    Not a good idea.

  3. Fiona Landsberg January 30, 2013 at 8:32 am

    This is great news. We have stayed at ABV for 9 years and the ever increasing development of the Island has meant that there are now very limited and affordable ‘family’ resorts. Not only is ABV blessed with one of the most beautiful beaches on the Island the staff are dedicated to make families welcome during their stay. Good luck and I can’t wait to have news of the opening.

  4. Taraneh Azimi April 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    I have been following the juggling fate of Almond Beach Village for over a year know and I am desperate for an answer.

    ABV is a second home to me and I’m sure I speak on behalf of many people when saying I am utterly devastated to see a place so beautiful, calm and happy close down.
    I have stayed at the hotel 7 times to date as it always had a sense of hospitality, welcome and calmness which had me and my family drawn back year after year after year. To us (from cold wet places like London) Barbados is paradise. The beach, the people and the hotels service was always amazing.

    There are so many unanswered questions hovering on many comment boards over the situation:
    Is the hotel being bought? Demolished? Refurbished as ABV? Turn into villas? Apartments? Or completely being changed into a new hotel and given a new name? Will it keep its name? Will the same employers still work there? Who has bought it? The government? Sandals? And most importantly, if refurbished, when will it open? But this leads me to ask why there was a goods auction last week?

    Planning to return to Barbados for New Year but I know if I stay elsewhere it won’t be the same.
    Like the government said, it was a business simply “too big to fail”

    Desperate for some communication.

    • Tony Spencer July 30, 2013 at 6:36 am

      I, like Taraneh have been going to The ABV regularly (in fact since it opened) so it was like a second home to us and we were absolutely devastated when it closed. Since then we went to The Casuarina (nice but nowhere near as good) now that is not really calling us back as there is only one place for us and therefore we are unlikely to return until we can again enjoy the magical ABV experience. Come on Government do us all a favour and either say yea or nay and we can then look forward or resign ourselves to the fact that we will have to try and find somewhere new or just reflect that we were one of the priviledged few to have been fortunate enough to be able to have experienced a stay there.
      Fingers crossed!


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