Power play

The final bids are in.

It is now for the Government to make its pick of who will

take over the stalled Four Season’s hotel project.

Efforts today to reach the project’s lead spokesman

Avinash Persaud were unsuccessful, but informed sources

with very intimate knowledge of the negotiations confirmed

to Barbados TODAY that the process of bidding had

officially come to a close.

Sources further revealed that there were at least two

“solid” offers on the table for the “pricy” beachfront

property, located at Clear Water Bay and said to be valued

at US$80 million (BDS$160 million).

One of these is Colony Capital, a Californian-based,

US$25 billion private equity fund, founded by real estate

mogul Thomas Barrack Jr. The company, which is behind the

Raffles and Fairmont hotel brands, has been linked to the

British entrepreneur Simon Cowell, who has already invested

in the largest luxury villa on the former

Paradise site.

The group, which is backed up by Luxury Living

Development, has major plans for the beachfront property

and is already talking in terms of full repayment to the

Government of a US$30 million (US$60 million) guarantee.

“Suffice it to say, the Government gets out whole,” said

spokesman Matthew Bishop, whose real estate company

has constructed several high–end properties in Mexico and

California, including Cowell’s United States home.

Without confirming the dollar value of its bid, he said

Colony Capital was very serious about owning Four Seasons

and developing a hotel on the property that it had already

chosen a design team for the luxury hotel.

“We see this as a great opportunity. We believe in

Barbados and the Four Seasons project and we have

already done a fair amount of work,” he said in an exclusive

interview with Barbados Today from his US office.

However, equally serious is said to be the second bid

entered by Ong Beng Seng, a Malaysian hotel and property

tycoon, based in Singapore, which has been conducting due

diligence and has already identified its local business partners.

Apart from his significant investments in property

development, retail and Formula One racing, the

businessman, who has been linked to local magnate Kiffin

Simpson, as well as a prominent local construction firm,

owns several international hotel properties, including the

Four Seasons in Singapore. Two years ago, he was ranked

seventh on Forbes magazine’s 2011 list of Singapore’s

richest people with an estimated net worth of $1.9 billion.

Representatives of the two firms have been on island

recently to meet with senior government and tourism

officials and the developers.

“I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything will

work out for us,” said one senior Government official, who

added that the administration was hoping to have a decision

by the end of October and to complete the entire sale

process by yearend, making way for hotel construction work

in January.

However, another official, who also did not want to be

identified, made it clear that the final decision was not only

about money.

Comparing Four Seasons to the still to be finalized

Almond Resorts situation, he said the Government had be

concerned that whoever takes charge “is actually prepared to

build a hotel and in a reasonable time frame”.

Asked specifically to respond to this concern, Bishop

said: “We don’t speculate. In fact we have already looking

to get the design completed,” he said. kaymarjordan@


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