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No funds to refurbish

by Emmanuel Joseph

coralsandsentranceIt’s a dilemma for hotel owners and managers in Barbados whose properties are in dire need of upgrading.

An informal Barbados TODAY survey of some of the hotels, along with one of their two representative organisations, found that while many of the hoteliers recognised the need to “refresh” their plants to meet today’s demand for quality, they just don’t have the money to refurbish.

“Low occupancy which has resulted in low revenue is our main challenge in refreshing our plant,” said Rose Stoute, a director of Coral Sands Beach Resort in Worthing, Christ Church.

“The summer has been slow too, and this has affected revenue. However, we are still continuing to do what we can to retrofit to prevent the plant from running down. We can’t allow it to run down, so we will do what little we can.”

As far as bookings for the coming winter tourist season were concerned, Stoute said they are starting late. She said visitors used to start bookings from about December 21, but now they are doing so from around December 28. Amaryllis Beach Resort in Hastings, Christ Church is experiencing a similar challenge to that of Coral Sands in upgrading its accommodation.

“Low occupancy is our main challenge in upgrading our property. With the revenue stream from low occupancy obviously down, it is difficult to have enough money to run the hotel,” said General Manager of Amaryllis, Evan Gooding.

“The cost of electricity and water, basic items like these, along with low occupancy are a major challenge. We have been suffering from low occupancy from the beginning of April. We don’t have enough (funds) to plough into plant,” he added.

The hotel management official also cited borrowing as another big problem. “Going to the bank for assistance…? There is very little confidence by the banks in the hotels,” Gooding reasoned.

coralsandspoolHe argued though, that the bigger challenge was that many hotels depended on government for marketing. The hotel leader suggested that even in good times, there was a cut back on funds for marketing and it had become worse in the current bad times.

“We continue to flog the traditional markets,” Gooding noted. “We need to concentrate more on the Caribbean market. There are lots of Caribbean people from the whole gamut of society who can subsidise our hotels. We are not doing enough of that (marketing in Caribbean).

He was also of the view that the island’s all-inclusive programme needed to be extended to include other products and services.

“We need to share the products and services among hotels. There is a sense of selfishness. Each person wants to milk each tourist as much as possible,” declared Gooding.

President of the Intimate Hotels of Barbados, Renee Coppin told this newspaper a reduction in business has meant no money is available to reburbish properties.

“The lack of revenue has constrained our ability to borrow,” Coppin noted.

She said even though the small hoteliers now had access to the Small Hotels Investment Fund, there was a reluctance by owners to put themselves in any debt because of their cash flow problems.

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