Gov’t defends its redevelopment plan for Sam Lord’s

Parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner has defended Government’s move to compulsorily acquire the abandoned Sam Lord’s Castle property in the wake of concerns raised about the acquisition.

As she opened debate on the resolution to take over the Long Bay, St Philip property and convert it into a 450-room five-star resort at a cost of US$200 million, Sandiford-Garner said she was confident “this is the right move for the Government at this time”.

The Government senator was adamant that the acquisition also makes financial sense, explaining that the resort was projected to generate at least $73.4 million yearly and employ more than 900 people.

Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner
Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner

“The national revenue, which includes all of the peripheral services will be $73 million, but the total revenue of the hotel is US$48 million. So we’re looking at a gap of about $30 something million, which will be shared between transport, entertainers, souvenirs, vendors and other persons who will retain whatever items that tourists wish to buy,” she explained.

“We’re looking at NIS [National Insurance Scheme] contributions from the 900 workers who will find employment at the facility and then there are other taxes from transactions that will take place from the establishment of that Sam Lord’s Castle facility. [Based on] these initial estimates we are sure the property would generate adequate revenue to service our debt payment of US$14.2 million and our operating expenses,” she said.

Government also anticipates it would collect $2.6 million from rental of commercial spaces on the site, with conference facilities generating another US$1 million yearly.

However, several people have criticised the Freundel Stuart administration’s plan to redevelop the property, including president of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Sunil Chatrani, who contended that the sector was in need of quality and not a greater quantity of hotel rooms.

There have also been concerns about battles being waged in the law courts over the property and the implications for Barbados.

While Sandiford-Garner did not speak to those issues, she was confident the resort would exceed the minimum benchmarks projected, including the 80 per cent occupancy rate in the winter season, and 60 per cent in the summer.

“Even with these modest estimates, this redevelopment project will be self-sustaining and will [bring] generous financial benefits for this country as well as the hotel operator who takes it over,” the senator said.

The Upper Chamber was debating the resolution up to late this evening.


5 Responses to Gov’t defends its redevelopment plan for Sam Lord’s

  1. R Burgess
    R Burgess August 14, 2014 at 12:55 am

    congratulation! I hope to see this historic Barbados icon rebuilt. Looking forward to the opening. I’ll be there.

  2. Simon Gooding
    Simon Gooding August 14, 2014 at 3:04 am

    When i show this picture to some of my friends they scream in disbelieve of what have bcome of the once icon of Buhbaydus tourism…i say what a shame….the government…BTA….Nation especially Clico company…..its a lost an a disgrace…the million dollar question is…who got the the insurance money from this…????…when this place was destroyed Buhbaydus tourism went also… will never be the same again…

  3. Halsey Clarke
    Halsey Clarke August 14, 2014 at 4:40 am

    Some of my friends got married there,now look at the place,money grabbing,so call people who say they care for Barbados economy.

  4. Tony Webster August 14, 2014 at 6:43 am

    The only sense this compulsory-acquisition could possibly make, is that whomsoever wanted to buy it by private treaty through the liguidator, was not (for some strange reason) not one of the “favoured ones”, and this is simply to “cut him of at the pass”, so that in due course, a sweetheart deal might be wrought, with a more accomodating owner/franchisee. I heard madam Senator yesyterday, live via FM, “selling’ the idea to fellow senators: there were more questions left a-begging.…than I have hairs left on my head. She should stick to running the Q.E.H.
    I have stayed at the castle during a conference, and the accomodation c.1985, was already bordering on decrepit.All existing rooms,. would clearly have to be razed. The actual property, had vast potential, with the Castle itself, as the diadem. remember, Old “sam: brought in italian masons to apply the fantsatic ceing-mouldings etc. And the contents, treasures of barbadian workmanshiop in mahogany, took out the very guts of heritage. All gone. The shell and the actual (undeveloped) property yet have very good potential, but the Castle even when “restored” would be a “Disneyesque” parody of what we allowed to go up in smoke. A monumnmental waste; shame; and national loss. What say you, Mr. Parris? Sorry, Mr. Parris and company.
    BTW, to really do justice to the entire property AND create 450 rooms, AND to even try to restore the Castle, AND all-new amenities……will require a couple small adjustments to the espoused “plans”:
    1. Add another nought to the “estimated costs”
    2. Engage a genius like Paul Doyle. Or if really desperate, Butch.
    3. Resurrect all deceased bajan some-masons, and joiners (or offer some eye-talians artisans a free two-year holiday here)
    4. Recover (immediately) all the auctioned-off contents from their new owners: just pay them four times what it cost them.
    And don’t forget to tell the (un-stated) source of the expected project-cash, about that extra “nought”.

  5. Josh August 14, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    For a government / country with no money, who are laying off thousands of employees, is this the best they can come up with? Does Barbados need even more empty hotel rooms to compete against its current hoteliers who are already saying they are not sustainable in the current market? Can a revamped Sam Lord’s castle compete against Sandals? I think not! Will this be another loss making project like four seasons? More than likely! Is their a significant projected increase in tourist to Barbados? Dah! Given that Barbados lacks tourist attractions (as per previous articles) is there likely to be droves of people willing to come on holiday and sit in a hotel with no sand or sea ? Unlikely! The government is either inept or squandering tax payers money for their individual purposes or that of their friends. If Barbados had loads of money and was the tourist destination of choice, I for one would say go for it – but neither is the case. Notwithstanding, I advocate not leaving the castle to ruin further as it is of historic significance, so why not utilize it differently? An international conference center / museum that attracts visitors comes to mind at a first stab – but who am I? Poor Barbados (excuse the pun) Its time to hold the government to account for their short sighted decision making with tax payers money. Given the financial crisis this pet project will benefit no one except the select few the government will pay – ask for a cost benefit analysis people – on the face of it this is foolishness. The Government either needs to invest in exports or tourist attractions at this point – but who am I – a tax payer whose money is being squandered!


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