Update On Almond Beach Village Anyone?

Hotel mongul Butch Stewart has his eyes on Almond Beach Club

One of the unforgiving characteristics of this Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government has been its reluctance to communicate to a public which yearns for information. Surely if there is one group in society who has a right to know how its government is treating with issues, it is the taxpayers. Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart’s taciturn nature has indelibly labelled the legacy of his Cabinet. On the eve of a general election it is unlikely public perception will change.

Of the myriad of issues which this government continues to wrestle -thrown up by the global economy – ordinary citizens have the capacity to understand that this is a difficult time to govern. Surely one way the Stuart government can allay the anxiety of citizens is to feed them relevant information. A reasonable assumption must be that disseminating information to the population is a prerequisite of a democracy.

One of the many issues which is of concern is the status of the sale of Almond Beach Village. Since April this year it was reported that several buyers were short listed by the owners Neal & Massy and a decision was promised in weeks to inform the winning purchaser. It is several months later and we are still waiting. Given the significant contribution to GDP which the Almond Beach property generated, the Opposition and others had suggested to government at the time that it was a company which should have been labelled too big to fail. The public was advised by Minister Richard Sealy the government would play its part to pave the way for a smooth sale of Almond Beach Village. It appears that Sealy has been emulating Stuart because he has been very silent of late.

BU is on record throwing support to Butch Stewart sealing the deal for Almond. The power of the Sandals/Beaches brand cannot be ignored. The mega-millions which Butch throws into the marketing budget is the punch which has been missing from the national effort of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) to date.

BU understands from Check-This-Out, a BU family member who keeps us apprised of what is happening in the Canadian media, Sandals had a new half page advertisement in the Globe & Mail on Thursday: Banner says “Travel Agents Know Best – the body is a message from Gordon “Butch Stewart”  about “Certified Sandals Specialists”. Also in Globe and Mail yesterday – a full page St Vincent & Grenadine advertisement (have not seen before); and Barbados had a small boxing Westjet ad. Not to forget St. Lucia which seems to be our direct competitor of late.

According to Check-this-Out he following article which appeared in a Canadian publication six months ago remains relevant:

Excuse me, dahrlings, but…That Butch Is So… Butch

There are 2 things I have learned in life, Pumpkins. One, virgins should never attend prison rodeos. Two, when Butch Stewart sets his sights on something – get out of the way. The man knows how to mount a marketing coup. And believe me, dahrlings, I’ve sashayed in front of his telescope on many occasions hoping for a mounting.

(Unfortunately, he always shoos me away and tells Adam to get the transvestite off the property.)

And so, with the Almond Beach Village turning up toasted, the golden boy of Jamaica has his eye on Barbados again. And why not? The Stewart passion lies in expansion – and Barbados is ripe for the taking. And giving, I would imagine.

The man cannot be contained. He is spreading his brand all over the Caribbean. I love a business success story, Pumpkins. Fortitude. Sweat. Followed by customer satisfaction.

Butch, don’t leave me like this… send me a car wrapper! Or maybe a butler.

What is happening with the Almond property, Sealy, Stuart? Barbadians anticipate a status report from the Governor of the Central Bank in the third quarter review, please!

Related links:

Special thanks to Check-This-Out

0 responses to “Update On Almond Beach Village Anyone?

  1. Victor Meldrew

    I used to love staying at the Village. I’ve been there 5 times. But from the Uk Barbados has become an even more expensive place to visit because of the UK’s Air Passenger Duty. Because of the way the bandings of this duty work, it costs less in duty to fly from the UK to Hawaii, than to Barbados. So there are external factors at work, besides any internal factors. I have to say that managment at the Village was poor, facilities tired, and extras overpriced. Clearly marketing of the property was poor as occupancy rates had fallen. Cruise liners nearly always sail full, because the operators realise that an occupied cabin yeilds on borad revenue, while empty ones don’t. So long as a room is let at a rate which covers variable costs (like food and drink in an inclusive hotel) then anything else you get is at least some contribution towards the fixed costs – and thus long term losses are minimised or eliminated. Clearly Almond beach Inc were not up to the job of managing their hotels, and clearly took too long to address the problems. But why Barbadians think its the Government’s job to sort out the mess is beyond me – the private sector takes the risks and the profits; they also accept the losses. The job of the Government is to create the right conditions for growth, not to run everything themselves. Visit Cuba if you want to see where such an ideology takes a country and I’ll tell you this for free – you wouldn’t like it.

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  2. @Victor

    Thanks for your comment. The debate is a divided one but what we know is that given the importance of tourism to the national economy government MUST play a leadership role. The question then becomes: is the private sector doing enough?

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  3. Victor Meldrew

    The private sector’s primary motive is to make profits, and when conditions are thought to be right, the private sector will invest in anticipation of making those profits. If the private sector isn’t willing to invest (3 bidders for the village suggests they are!) then that suggests the conditions are not right – many economies are flatlining now, so investing in tourism which is a largely discretionary area of personal expenditure might be considered rather risky. But if you take a longer term view then you might think that the world economic situation is starting to improve, and starting the investment in the village property might be sensible. When it will start to see guests again is another matter.Building will create jobs for some in the short term, but will not bring foreign currencies to Barbados as guests would. Perhaps the government can do more to make the conditions better, but not at the expense of unsupported borrowing. The economies of the southern meditteranean countries show what happens if your government debt to GDP figure gets too high.

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  4. Freundel is a big F….C…T!! He needs to get the hell out his office and see what’s happening! His stupidity is congenital. Is the typical F….. Bajan stubborn old man!! F.YOU!!

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  5. Hi, I’m new to running a blog and websites in general and was wanting to know how
    you got the “www” included in your domain name? I see your domain, “http://bajan.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/update-on-almond-beach-village-anyone/” has the www and my web address looks like, “http://mydomain.com”.
    Do you know the simplest way I can alter this? I’m using WordPress platform.
    Thank you so much

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  6. Thanx to Wifredo for bringing this blog back in play by his/her very timely post.

    I see in yesterday’s Barbados Today that Butch has a deal to “operate and manage a rebuilt Almond under the Beaches brand, with an option to purchase the property at a future date”.

    First observation is how was the fledgling Barbados Today able to get the “scoop” over the long established Nation and Advocate.

    Was the story published on the basis of an official government communique or press release, or from leaked documents? Given that I have seen nothing in either of the Nation of Advocate (may have missed something), I am guessing that it was a leak. Kudos to Barbados Today for running the story.

    Why did it take a year and a half to get this ball rolling?

    There can be no doubt that “Barbados stands to gain exposure as a result of the marketing and promotional might of the Sandal (Beaches) brand; just as has Jamaica, Bahamas, Antigua, Turks and Caicos, St Lucia, and now Grenada. The same full page ad that is on the back page of the Travel section in today’s Toronto Star for Sandals LaSource resort in Grenada, has been running weekly for a couple of months now – and it does not open until December 2013. (There has been virtually no advertising for Barbados properties in Toronto papers for at least six months)

    On the surface It sounds like it has to be a sweet deal for Butch – Barbados taxpayers borrow $500 million from China to buy the property from N&M, bulldoze the existing buildings, and build a 426 room facility (including 6 or 7 restaurants).

    Butch has managed his risk by having the facility built by the taxpayers (via China loan), and has an option to buy the property – if all goes well. If not, he can walk away – at some future date stipulated in the agreement.

    David said “Of the myriad of issues which this government continues to wrestle -thrown up by the global economy – ordinary citizens have the capacity to understand that this is a difficult time to govern. Surely one way the Stuart government can allay the anxiety of citizens is to feed them relevant information. A reasonable assumption must be that disseminating information to the population is a prerequisite of a democracy.”

    Since the taxpayers will be on the hook for the $500 million loan, I assume the government will, in the interest of transparency and full disclosure, publish the full details of the agreement with Butch when it is finalized in “a month”.

    As an aside, DD came across an April 2012 article at http://www.stabroeknews.com/2012/archives/04/08/butch-stewart-eying-barbados-almond-beach-village/ which the BU family may find interesting. It is a reprint of an interview with Butch Stewart published by the Nation on April 7, 2012. An interesting discussion in which Stewart talks about the Almond property and his previous experience with Paradise Beach.

    When the interviewer said

    “The one apprehension we have heard so far with respect to your taking over the property is that you would want to have a private beach. In fact, we understand that that was the deal breaker last time you were pursuing a major investment in Barbados.”

    Stewart replied; “ First of all, that is rumour. Nothing could be further from the truth. I mean we operate in Antigua; the beach is not private; St Lucia is not private; the Bahamas is not private; Jamaica is not private. So nothing could be further from the truth.
    No, I think what happened is that we just got mixed up with bureaucracy and couldn’t make any progress; and it was also earlier times and more primitive times for Sandals Resorts. If we had had probably better professional help, it would have been [workable].
    We are a young company, 30 years old this year – but absolutely nothing like a private beach.
    That’s all nonsense!”

    Interviewer “But at the end of the day, you got fed up with the Paradise project – now Four Seasons – and you left. Can you assure Barbadians that if given the opportunity to take over Almond you would be in it for the long haul?”

    Stewart: “(Chuckle) Take a look at all the places that we are at. Any island that Sandals is in, does well. Every island! And we go in, we dig our holes, we make our nest, we develop the properties”.

    Finally, DD is curious where how the 112,684 additional visitors was calculated.

    The hotel/resort will have 426 large family rooms with on average six persons per room – Mom and Dad and four kids, or three swinging couples, or same sex people.

    Typically an all-inclusive stay is for 7 days.

    With 426 rooms and 50 weeks to rent (2 weeks down time for annual maintenance) the hotel would have 21,300 room weeks to fill.

    By my rough amateur calculations, in order to have 112,684 visitors staying at the resort for 7 days would require 5.3 persons in every room for each of the 50 weeks. With 6 persons to a room it would require each room to be occupied 88% of the time.

    It seems to me that a more likely scenario would see an average 4 persons to each room 85% of the time – and that would result in 72,420 visitors.

    That is better than zero visitors at Heywoods which will be the case for the three years it will take to get it up and running, but a long way (35%) off 112,684.

    DD would appreciate readers with more knowledge of the tourism business to check the assumptions and the math; and let me know where I am incorrect or missing something

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  7. Anyone listened to Dennis Johnson on this matter on Brasstacks today? Apparently there is also a story on it with more details on Barbados Today.

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  8. Yes, I read the story on BT. Is the property in such bad shape that it has to be knocked down? But there again, this may be the best thing, start new like the Hilton. I don’t trust Butch Stewart though when it comes to doing things in Barbados! The only thing I do not understand is why would a government agree up front not to go to tender for this project. Bet your bottom dollar that Jada will get the contract!

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  9. Bushie cannot believe that even the stupid brass bowls that constitute the leadership of Barbados (on both sides) would make such idiotic decisions.

    Pay $100M for ALMONDS to knock it down and build anew? a fool and OUR money are soon parted…

    …well why not just BUILD A NEW ONE on government land?
    …why not give the damn piece of shit to Doyle?
    ..why not tax the Trini owner’s brass bowl for the misuse of that prime property…

    After Butch Stewart’s record with Paradise – he must be greasing some big palms to get to screw us again so…

    ….talk bout brass bowls!!

    DENNIS JOHNSON you are obviously not a bajan…. you miss out on the brass bowl bush bath that we bajans seem to have got….
    THANK YOU.

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  10. millertheanunnaki

    @ Prodigal Son | September 13, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    This is just another piece of bullshit aka spin or propaganda to make it look as if this administration is doing something.

    Jada can’t even build a proper pigpen far less a hotel to attract mostly UK visitors who are keeping far away from places likes Barbados that have become havens for hustlers, pimps, drug pushers and environmental terrorists.
    Just take a look of the housing and commercial building project and ask yourself if you are not seeing concrete ovens in an already tropical setting. The Coverly and Valerie projects are proof positive of what those construction frauds are capable of. This outfit of bilkers and kickback conmen has no imagination for constructing a modern hotel property with a sustainable living type accommodation based on renewable energy and other green or ecologically-friendly technologies that modern and future visitors will be expecting.

    The main issue here is one of financing. Let’s get real and ask the question from whom and when would a country with already junk bond status, a massive debt burden in excess of $10 billion (excluding the UWI, Al Barrack), a poorly performing economy bereft of natural resources to be exploited and saddled with a political administration in whom no or very little investor confidence resides would be able to attract thousands of millions in loans and FDI to finance the following projects:

    As stimulus package in excess of $150 million (M) for road rehabilitation.

    A sugar processing factory based on a revitalized cane sugar industry costing in the region $500 M.
    A WTE plant costing in the region nof another $500 M.
    A wave to energy plant costing millions to construct and bring into being.
    A cruise ship terminal and a Pier head marina.
    A brand new hospital costing in excess of $1billion but to operate with less that $120 M on an annual basis.

    And now the purchase of Almond for $ 106 M and another $500 M to knockdown and build back.

    Now who is this administration trying to fool?
    Almond will end up as just another casualty like the Four Seasons project and the other 30 odd hotel properties that have bitten the dust in the last 5 years representing the collateral damage of a dying tourism industry called Brand Barbados. Unless this country cleans up its act and focus on the real issues and challenges facing Barbados’ tourism like harassment of many kinds from sexual to verbal and physical from Bridgetown to Oistins, lack of visitor attractions, unsightly garbage and filth that could be a danger to public health, run down accommodation, an overgrown with bush countryside that was once but no longer a sight for sore eyes to be hold and poor value for money right across the tourism landscape those people looking for a quick turnaround would just be spinning top in mud.

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  11. Miller

    Your point about the root causes and real issues is right on.

    But as this administration is “has also committed to the purchasing and refurbishing two properties, the Almond Beach Village and the Silver Sands Hotel to help increase the room stock on the island and protect Barbadian jobs. For the record: the government does not intend to enter into the hotel management business but will seek to attract brand name chains to either manage or purchase these properties.” It says so at http://www.dlpbarbados.org/site/

    Given that Doyle is the only operator in Barbados to express an interest in ABV, and government apparently does not like his fractional ownership model, the only viable operator option is a brand name chain.

    The Couples chain, with four properties in Jamaica has taken over Casuarina; and will need time to digest that property and become accustomed to operating outside of Jamaica.

    Hilton and Radison have their centrally located properties, and apparently show no interest ABV.

    Other alternatives would include the Spanish/European chains that operate the hotels/resorts in Mexico, Cuba, DR and other Latin American jurisdictions that have been eating Barbados’ tourism business for twenty to thirty years, particularly from the North American market.

    So, that leaves Butch, and that is not a bad thing.

    As Sandals is a private company, we do not know if it is highly profitable; but given that he has grown Sandals/Beaches to 16 resorts in five Caribbean countries (17 in 6 countries including La Source opening in Grenada in December) in about 30 years it is reasonable to assume he is making money. That is a good thing.

    On the positive side, his properties are high-end resorts, in keeping with the image Barbados has been known for; and he has huge promotion and advertising clout.

    The downside for the Barbadian taxpayer is that Butch holds the bargaining chips. He has the power of the Sandals/Beaches brand. He knows how to run luxury resorts, knows what his costs are/will be, and has hammered out similar deals/agreements with 5 Governments. When Butch and his team of seasoned professionals sit down to negotiate the details of the agreement with the MOT, CEO of BTA, and their team of bureaucrats, Butch will definitely have the upper hand. If MOT/BTA et al try to extract more than he is prepared to pay, he can walk from Heywoods just as he walked from Paradise Beach.

    The sad reality is that Butch is calling the shots this time.

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  12. Butch has the brand and the marketing thrust to add value to the Barbados product.

    Like

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