Almond to be bulldozed and replaced by 426-room Beaches resort

by Roy R. Morris

almondemptyThe future of the Almond Beach Village property at Heywoods in St. Peter, as planned by Government, is starting to take shape.

Barbados TODAY has learnt that the Freundel Stuart Cabinet has determined it will purchase the property from Neal and Massy of Trinidad for US$53 million, with an initial cash payment of US$25 million and the balance of US$28 million being paid over three years at an interest rate that is still to be agreed between the two parties.

Additionally, after an initial Cabinet decision instructed the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. to work with Sandals Resort International “to have a Sandals Beaches Resort in Barbados within three to four weeks”, that body last week determined that Sandals be given the nod to operate and manage a rebuilt Almond under the Beaches brand, with an option to purchase the property at a future date.

In a very brief dismissal of the only competing written offer, a Cabinet document titled Long-term Operator for the Almond Beach Village at Heywoods, St. Peter, stated:

“Crane Resorts proposes to buy one-third of the property for one-third of the purchase price paid by the Government, with an option to purchase the remaining two thirds … in the future. The plan would be for the development of the villa accommodation for sale by way of time share. There is also a proposal for the short term operation of Almond…

“This proposal is quite similar to the existing Crane model, which involves building accommodation based on sales and may therefore take a full decade to fully realise its potential. It will therefore fail to achieve increased visitor arrivals in the next few years and will be unable to assist Barbados in protecting its airlift.”

On the other hand, the document explained, the Sandals proposal involved the building of a 426-room, all-inclusive family resort “which will allow Barbados to regain its share of the families market which was lost with the closure of Almond Resorts. These will be large family rooms with on average six persons per room.”

Based on the calculations made, this potentially will result in an additional 112,684 visitors to Barbados annually.

“This large number of visitors will protect airlift for the entire tourism industry in Barbados and contribute to an increase in visitor spending. It is also worthy of note that Almond, at its peak, accounted for an additional 25,000 visitors annually. The Sandals proposal would increase this number by a factor in excess of four…

“While it can be argued that the issue of a long-term operator for the Heywoods property should be the subject of a public tender, it is the view of the Ministry of Tourism that the need for the return of the room inventory to production is extremely urgent.

“In addition, it is also believed that a tendering process is unlikely to result in a better operator than Sandals since the only other major all-inclusive operator in the Caribbean region was Almond Resorts Inc., which is now closed.

“The Sandals proposal also addresses all of the national tourism objectives as follows:

* An increase in the number of long-stay visitors that come to Barbados each years; and

* Protection of existing airlift in critical source markets,” the document stated.

“It should be noted that Barbados stands to gain substantial exposure as a result of the marketing and promotional might of the Sandals brand. The company has indicated that experience in other destinations show that the mere announcement that a Sandals property is to be constructed … is enough to generate interest from the airlines.”

Given this approach, the Ministry of Tourism recommended that Cabinet invokes Section 239 of the Financial Management and Audit Act for authority to achieve its objective without inviting tenders, but instead through “direct negotiations in accordance with arrangements as the Cabinet directs”.

“The Ministry of Tourism is satisfied that this matter is urgent and that there are no other operators as capable as Sandals in assisting Barbados to maintain its share of the all-inclusive tourism market, while protecting airlift into Barbados,” Cabinet was told.

The challenge for Barbados with the Sandals proposal, however, is that it could take at least a month for an agreement to be finalised and a further 24 to 36 months of construction.

“This would mean that unless a short-term plan is developed there would be no activity at Heywoods over a three- to four-year period … when the tourism industry in Barbados is short of hotel rooms,” it added.

Following BTI investigations, it has been determined that it may be feasible to operate the 120-room southern block, which is still fully furnished with functioning utilities, to meet needs from the Canadian and United Kingdom markets. This would accommodate up to 8,700 visitors over a 12-month period.

17 Responses to Almond to be bulldozed and replaced by 426-room Beaches resort

  1. Beverly Gerber
    Beverly Gerber September 11, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    About time !!! They’ll probably have to do the same to my beloved Casuarina–greedy people get their due justice.

  2. Paul Gould September 12, 2013 at 2:06 am

    The projected number of visitors in the article appears to assume that every room will be occupied for the whole year by at least 5 people staying for one week. Surely this is completely unrealistic.

  3. Linda September 12, 2013 at 2:27 am

    I hope the sugar mill there isn’t going to be bulldozed too?

  4. Sally September 12, 2013 at 4:05 am

    Open the south of the hotel for the first few years ?? until the re construction takes place , certainly don’t think customers would part with their money to go to a hotel /almond to then know in the next few years it will be bulldozed and turned into a property that is too expensive to stay in . Most Barbados Customers like to find a hotel in Barbados that they can return to year after year and build trust with staff , product etc …. , and ex almond customers prob won’t be able to afford expensive beaches prices . Also who would want to stay in the South end , knowing pending bull dozing and new construction was going to happen possibly while they are on holiday . Still doesn’t sound like a positive solid plan . Sandals bought land in Barbados years ago and never did anything . Doesn’t sound positive

  5. Noel Nurse
    Noel Nurse September 12, 2013 at 5:26 am

    Not sure this is the best idea for the property but it is an idea that now has to be followed through in a short time to be effective.

  6. Adrian Loveridge September 12, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Paul, good observation. Our hotels currently barely average an annual room occupancy of 50 per cent, but Beaches and Sandals are strong brands.
    I would guess they might reach 80 per cent, so the calculation:
    426 (rooms) x 365 nights divide by an average stay of 7 nights (across all markets) and two persons each occupied room =
    35,540 persons per year.
    The figure quoted is frankly ridiculous and grossly misleading.

  7. Cheryl A Rollins
    Cheryl A Rollins September 12, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Utter rubbish!

  8. Maxjudy Stanford
    Maxjudy Stanford September 12, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Hope this doesn’t become another 4 seasons or Harliquin!!

  9. Richard Baker September 12, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Totally agree with Paul and Adrian figures quoted are a joke, 35k might be a bit low for Beaches, pehaps 40-45k.

    What happened to the Governments ‘must be ready for 2014 season’ ? If this is completed by the start of the 2017-8 season I will be surprised.

    This resort needs to be run from Barbados for the benefit of Bajans.

    Beaches/Sandals will want thier usual 25-30% imported staff and will attract mainly American and Canadian visitors, As a result it will lose everything Bajan that ABV was, I do hope that I am wrong.

  10. princess tiny neferua September 12, 2013 at 9:40 am

    All I am wondering is when this project start..will it ran aground like the many hotel/resort project around Barbados..and if any more of the NIS monies would be taken up to fund it..pushing down.. building back ..and refurbishing going to take more than 50 mill Bds $..unless the Chinese government plan to take up 70% of the cost..and who is to say that in the next 2 yrs when almond is up and running that we will have full rooms through out the year..I also want to know where will the guest be coming from to fill these rooms..will the recession be over by then …by the Government observation?..did the government do a survey on the hotels/guest houses in Barbados to see how many of them have full occupancy all year round..guess we will have to wait and see if this will be another GEMS…

  11. Gordon September 12, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I agree with the brand bringing more “attention” to it, but even our best hotels are running on 10-30% average during low season. Those calculations highlight an average of 80% monthly, and this is never happens in Barbados. It is very misleading.

    This calculation is wrong just like Mr Loveridge and Mr. Gould have pointed out.

    Yes, the brand will bring more visitors but not what is calculated and Government is taking a huge risk owning the property and hoping others will eventually purchase it.

    The Crane’s model is Hotel & Property Sales. It is a good mixture that has helped this economy for a very long time. This is also a good option.

    Both ideas are good, but the facts are misleading.

  12. Barbadosbim September 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Thought they wanted this hotel opened by 2014. Even if it is just the south end – block 7, they will have to start work pretty fast and even then guests need faith in the property not to be surrounded by building work.

    Bulldoze ? surely they do not mean the whole property,
    The shops ? The sugar mill ? Samarita ?
    Yes a good size family all inclusive property is desperately needed on the west coast, not sure the average UK family can afford beaches prices. Will be interesting to see if this actually goes ahead, we may have to sit and wait a few years.

  13. Sisi Kitty Greenidge
    Sisi Kitty Greenidge September 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    another project to be placed on the 1/4done list.

  14. Karen and Glynn Jones September 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    After staying at the Almond twice a year for many years, there is no way that I would stay in the south block. The hotel has been left to rack and ruin for nearly two years and is full of vermin and the pools are filthy. How can you open up half a hotel. The number of people that beaches are expecting is totally unrealistic and if they say that the rooms hold up to 6 people I hope that they are not going to start charging supplements when there are only 4 or 5 people in the room which is an average family number. Also if they are going to start charging extortionate prices then they will not get the families going. We have started staying at the Tamarind we have been 3 times since the almond closed and it is a lovely hotel with friendly staff and we will probably continue to stay there even when the new hotel opens.

  15. Langolia September 21, 2013 at 6:43 am

    As a travel agent in the UK, I am welcoming the idea of a Beaches in Barbados!

    There are only 2 in Jamaica and 1 in Turks and Caicos at present, and most of my customers either dont want the travelling from the UK to Turks or dont like the reputation that comes with Jamaica, however incorrect it may be.

    Having an alternative will mean easier to get to, a perceived safer destination which means alot of UK customers.

  16. Gayle in Jersey November 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    How very sad. I spent my first caribbean holiday with my husband who was my then boyfriend. It was in 1997 just after it had been rebranded in 1995. Not even the south block was built then, which I believe it was built for the world cricket series. In fact Port St Charles hadn’t yet been built either. My husband’s parents stayed there when it was Heywoods hotel way back in the early nineties. It was a lovely hotel with very friendly staff. The Reef Restaurant was very different then. I have since stayed there in 2005 and still thought it was lovely. I also stayed at the Almond Beach Club, but prefered the Village I hope a solution can be found soon as it is a lovely part of the island. It doesn’t deserve to go to rack and ruin. Lovely island and lovely people.

  17. dd smith May 29, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Barbados need a serious review ,of they pricing policy, a lot of local bajans business is forced out of the tourist business because , Barbados have actually price themselves out of the tourist market in the Caribbean. We are being left behind by others.


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