Crane’s Almond

While not saying whether he’s the one chosen to buy over the Almond Beach Village in St. Peter, owner of the Crane Residential Resort, Paul Doyle, today admitted he already had “very advanced” town planning designs and intended to pump $1 billion dollars into it.

Speaking to reporters at the end of an address to the final Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon for 2012 at Hilton Barbados, Doyle said he could not comment on who was the preferred buyer, since he and the two other prospects had signed a confidentiality agreement.

The leading businessman, whose hotel resort has been a model of success, disclosed that the rebranded and restructured Almond Village would provide between 1,100 and 1,200 jobs for Barbadians and 600 individual keys.

He revealed, too, that he would be making public offers on the Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica markets in order to help raise funds to get the venture going.

Doyle said the rebuilding and overhauling of Almond would be undertaken in phases over a 10 year period.

“We are still working on it,” he said. “I’m an optimistic sort of person, so I’m still optimistic enough that we’re working hard on it through all the levels at the Crane. I think shortly everybody will know kind of officially, what the position is. I read in the paper today that the Government has some kind of plan that I didn’t know about, so I need to find out about that.”

The hotelier announced that 115 rooms at Almond were only eight years old and he would want to bring them back immediately and get going under a different brand.

“So we would put our applications in,” he continued, “for building and I would think, given the importance of getting something going, that we would have the full cooperation of everybody in Government to see that we get a pretty quick response, and then we would start building the new, very luxurious product as soon as we can.”

However, Doyle declared he would operate about half of the existing plant so that jobs could be preserved in the meantime.

“We will build it in the same way that we designed the Crane, which is large, very luxurious residential accommodation so you can’t kind of compare to rooms. But in terms of individual keys, because when we design a residence, we design it that it can be divided into two separate †accommodations. So a two-bedroom could be let to one family or two separate families…

“One way that we might approach this different to other people, is that, we’re not going to go in and spend a billion dollars one time — we’re going to, with a public offer. We’ll be able to spend a significant amount to really get it going.”

He noted that the speed at which the project would be constructed would depend on the state of the economy at the time, but could be stretched over 10 years.

Doyle explained that it would take a month to 45 days to get the 115 available rooms into operation.

“It wouldn’t be full in a month, but you would start employees and you would ramp up … but I think, so much of the business now, we get over half of our business direct, so we don’t have to wait for someone to print it in a brochure,” he added.

The Crane Resort boss pointed out that he was now about a week away from a final draft of the public offer to be submitted to the Financial Services Commission.

“We will submit it in Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica. We have had good interest there. I have met institutional investors in Trinidad and Barbados and was very well received,” boasted Doyle. (EJ)

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