Castle of hope

Govt looking to Wyndham project for new employment for Barbadians

The long-awaited redevelopment of historic Sam Lord’s Castle in St Philip is expected to generate more than 3,000 new jobs when the multi-million dollar state-of-the-art hotel is completed in three years time.

When Prime Minister Freundel Stuart addressed the groundbreaking ceremony at the picturesque 57-acre site this morning, he announced that in excess of 1,000 Barbadians would be employed directly at the new Wyndham facility and an additional 2,000 in other sectors of the economy.

“Foreign exchange earnings to be made by the property are estimated at over US$70 million a year, with a direct contribution to the GDP [gross domestic product] of US$35 million,” Stuart added.   

He said the people of St Philip would also gain social and economic benefits from the Bds$450 million project on which civil works should start early next year.

“Residents of this parish will be able to earn some income as entrepreneurs, service and produce providers and hotel employees,” the Prime Minister said, adding that a number of farmers in the area would now have another market for their produce and artistes and craftsmen would reap a similar benefit as well.

Stuart said that the start of this venture represented the beginning of a new era in Barbados’ cooperative relationship with the People’s Republic of China.

“This project will be the forerunner to even more projects between the two nations. It will spur cooperative efforts in other areas in, and outside of the tourism sector,” the Government leader told those attending the ceremony, including the Chinese financiers, Cabinet Ministers and tourism stakeholders.

He said the Wyndham partners, who would be managing the property, were intent on exceeding their own standards of excellence.

Stuart said the project has been designed to use the most sophisticated state-of-the-art and environmentally sustainable technologies, which would make it a prototype in the tourism sector.

The Prime Minister said the hotel will specifically target summer business and would assist Barbados in its quest to become a true year-round destination.

“This project is an indication of the restoration of confidence by the international community in the economic development strategy being undertaken by the Barbados Government,” said the Prime Minister.

“In this strategy,” Stuart continued,” priority is being given to income-generating and self-sustaining projects that have multiple benefits to multiple stakeholders, including of course, local communities.”

In her remarks, Chinese Ambassador to Barbados Wang Ke said Sam Lord’s Castle was just be one of the several other projects which her country intended to finance.

“It is also worth mentioning that besides Sam Lord’s Castle hotel, China and Barbados are negotiating other projects to be funded by China . . . such as the construction and extension of Grantley Adams International Airport and the Pierhead Marina Project in Bridgetown.

“We have every reason to expect a promising future of China-Barbados cooperation for mutual benefit,” said Ke.

The ambassador said she hoped the project would be completed on schedule and create a model process that results in a win-win for both governments.

The development, which will be a new Wyndham Grand Resort Hotel and Timeshare residences, will include the redevelopment of the former Castle and Cliffside restaurant buildings, new construction of an upscale resort hotel comprising 350 guest accommodations, 100 vacation ownership units and a destination spa.   

It will also comprise a conference centre and various services and amenities.   The near 200-year-old Sam Lord’s Castle was extensively damaged by fire in 2010.

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