One of our commenters suggested this week that the issue of the proliferation of condominiums being built in Barbados should be placed under the microscope. Specifically the condos being built on the West Coast have all but obliterated the few windows to the sea which we were struggling to preserve. Reverend Andrew Hatch who has been an advocate for maintaining windows to the sea in Barbados has sadly lost this battle. Several arguments have been offered that building condos are destructive for the Barbados tourism product. The most interesting comment is that of Executive Vice President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Susan Springer who is quoted in a PriceWaterHouse (PCW) Report titled A Question of Balance:
Of course we expected the counter argument from the people who are going to the bank as a result of the shift to condo building. Terry Hanton who is the Managing Director of Property Consulting Services, a division of AA Altman Real Estate had this rebuttal to make:
He further hammered home the point that although condos are replacing hotel rooms the practice at his company is to ensure his condos operate in a rental pool. The net affect on room plant is therefore zero.
Former Minister Barney Lynch was the biggest proponent of the condo model for Barbados. Did he not partner with Bruce Bayley and the Barbados National Bank to build condos on the South Coast on behalf of government? Now that the government has changed it would be interesting to find-out if this is another project which will have to be abandoned. Minister Richard Sealy over to you.
The PCW report concedes that the high cost of servicing small hotels make it an easy decision for owners to fold to the idea of replacing the hotel with a condo. The issue which our previous government seems to be compromising on is the spoiling of our island beauty by approving the erection of many of these ugly structures we see piercing the West Coast skyline.
Condos, flyovers, what next, casinos?
There is a rich precedent of islands in the Caribbean being used as the play things of the rich and famous and then being abandoned when their usefulness have been exhausted.
The only question is this;
Should Barbados be developed in the interest of ALL of us collectively? or should a small, rich, influential group be allowed to sell the rest of us down the drain while enriching themselves?
It is simply the Dick Stoute attitude Versus the ‘Lowdown’ Hoad philosophy.
Unfortunately Dick is winning. That is why he can afford to retire at 50 and go sailing….while Government is using tax payers money to undercut hard working Lowdown’s goat milk.
Barbados needs a SENSIBLE national Strategic Plan. The nonsense promoted by Mia and Company about world class and developed status is fatally flawed…
…any society which encourages lazy, influence-peddlers like the Real Estate dealers, Lawyers, “Land-Zone changers” and other Con men while penalizing and marginalizing hardworking farmers, Manufacturers and other productive citizens is doomed to failure…
The condo scenario is only the tip of the iceburg.
Agreed Bush Tea!
Correct Bush Tea. On another note I believe g’ment should buy the fews remaining plots of land [or windows] howbeit small, along the west coast so that persons can still see the sea at intervals along the same coast.
Don’t be fooled by the relatively harmless-sounding “Condominiums in Barbados” argument. It’s a “Condominiums, Villas, Marinas, Walled-Compounds, Security Guards, Ferocious Dogs, Hotels, Shopping Malls, Reduced Beach Access and Tricks to Prevent Locals Bathing Where Billionaires Bought Thinking They Were Getting Privacy” argument.
That’s a bit long – admittedly. Who’ll produce a “STOP WEST COAST RAPE” bumper sticker? I’ll put two on my car.
Andrew Hatch was behind the open windows ,yet he went and build a house on an open window.
Bush Tea’s comment re “…any society which encourages lazy, influence-peddlers …. is doomed to failure…” , I believe to be profoundly prescient.
Why do we (the country) follow such strategies?
I am sending under seperate cover a list of the 27 ( soon to be 28) hotels that have closed over the last 15 years.
Mr Hanton’s argument choses to ignore one VERY important factor – average annual OCCUPANCY.
He MAY (but I doubt it) be right about replacement of room stock from traditional hotel rooms to condominiums BUT if the condos are only occupied for six or eight weeks of the year, we are loosing employment and tourism viability potential.
It OK talking about Condominium Hotels but will someone name the ones we already have?
The loss of 2,000 tourism sector jobs between 2002 and 2004 from 14,200 to 12,200 has to be explained by someone!
And look at the architectural ‘legacy’ its left us.
You only have to look at the hideous unfinished mess opposite Worthing Police Station to get some idea.
You only have to look at the hideous unfinished mess opposite Worthing Police Station to get some idea
You can not relate hotel closures with an unfinished hotel that was plagued by under-financed problems. Some of the apartments that were closed was due to re-financing due to the cost of stock, increases in utilities and wages, against the background of competition by the larger hotels with financial backing. Remember, banks do not throw good money behind businesses with risk factors.
Tell me Why..
So its a hotel eh?
Small hotels can be well managed, properly financed and operate profitably.
‘Banks do not throw good money behind businesses with risk factors’.
Which planet do you live on?
You mean GEMS (Hotels and Resorts Ltd) was a good risk?
Please see a list of known hotels which have been closed under previous government:
A listed of the closed hotels below:
The Andrew Hatch case deserves closer attention. He replaced a one-storey house with a two-storey building at a time when strict rules applied AGAINST the building of anything higher than one level.
Reverend Hatch is not on ‘trial’ here. Its the government, Town Planners who we have to pay close attention.
I am sympathetic to the arguments about hotels being forced out of business due to financial problems.
However this does not mean that the failed hotels have to be replaced by condominiums. Government could have insisted long ago that seaside development be restricted to hotels only (not even condominium hotels).
Adrian is right that the condos tend to have very low occupancies. Despite the very high room rates (which earn large commissions for the realtors) many of these properties operate at a loss but contrary to Terry Hanton’s assertion, many of the condo owners are wealthy enough not to care. So in fact, loss making hotels (with moderate occupancy) have been replaced by loss making condos (with very low occupancy).
Terry Hanton thinks that there may have been a net increase in room stock because of the condo conversions. Even if this is true, most of the west coast condos are luxury properties and have very high room rates. It will be difficult to find enough people who can afford those rooms so the occupancies will probably always be low.
Having said that I have always been in favour of our tourism authorities going for the upmarket niche. I do not think however that this is what is happening on the West Coast. We are attracting a lot of wealthy investors but not enough upscale tourist who will fill the rooms.
We should be careful about the opinions of Terry Hanton and Paul Altman on this subject, because they have a vested interest in seeing the condominium development continue.
” As economies grow and develop, they are expected to transform themselves from agriculture and highly labour-intensive activities, to mass consumption and services. Hence, countries in which agriculture dominates economic activity are considered economically backward. Countries whose growth and development are fueled by mass consumption in the services industry are progressive and forward-looking. These characterizations are logical (sic) inferences drawn from the Five Stages of Development Theory advanced by the American Economic Historian, Walt W. Rostow in 1960″. Extracted from the column: As I See Things, by Dr. Brian Francis, in the Barbados Business Auithority, Monday, March 3, 2008.
That Dr. Francis, a UWI academic, could start his column in that way is indeed indicative of the very intellectual crisis that is, today, facing many aspects of academia in Barbados. For, it is this academia, too, that has been “for donkey years” part of the central reasons why we in Barbados have since the 1960s had a type of national development that continues to wrongly stress that TOURISM must be the major sector of our so-called economy, as opposed to it being, as we in PDC think, a secondary sector. Of course, Dr Francis, is another current reincarnate of those Barbadian academics of the 60s 70s and 80s that argued that “tourism is the best hope for further growth and development of the so-called Barbadian economy”, and very much so on the basis of their fawning and uncritical acceptance of so many destructive, useless and irrelevant Western/Eurocentric theories, paradigms and dogma, as being that intellectual and philosophical standard around which our Barbados society should be developed.
So, even as Dr. Francis uses his column to, et al, tell us that the Government of Barbados has invested significantly in the tourism industry through marketing, investment in tourism infrastructure, and policy initiatives which have allowed investors to reduce the costs of inputs into the industry, and how, since 1980, tourism’s share of total foreign exchange earnings has hovered around 50%; how it has been contributing 10 to 12 % of overall GDP, since 1974; and how the industry has been employing 10% of the labour force over the same period, we in PDC are sure that he WILL NEVER USE THIS COLUMN, too, to let the people of Barbados know that the TOURISM SECTOR is the sector that has, within recent times, wrecked the greatest harm and destruction on the greatest political, social, material and financial growth and development possible for Barbados as a whole.
And, just look at some of the massive problems that have come about through Barbados’ chronic dependency on TOURISM: very severe exploitation of our hotel and hospitality workers; the very pervasive landlessnesss of thousands upon thousands of our people as brought about through many of our lands that should really have been used for residential and productive purposes, being instead used for touristic/alien less than productive purposes (golf courses, retirement villages); the social, political and other widening cleavages and the related tensions that are being helped brought about and reinforced by this great emphasis on TOURISM( the rich and famous tourists vs the poor and needy natives); and the great disconnection, much of it very deliberate, that exists between TOURISM and the Agriculture, Manufacturing and other Sectors of Barbados, and to the detriment of the greater growth and development potential of the country as a whole. Certainly, these kinds of problems do miniaturized issues related to subjects like too many condos or not, and too many all-inclusives hotels or not.
Given our high literacy and allegedly great educational system it makes it an imperative that we should find a way to shift our dependency on the tourist product. Even if we get the argument coming back that we have the offshore sector we would have to say that there is a deep relationship between the tourist product and the offshore sector. If the tourist product goes South so too will the offshore sector.
Further to this comment there is a report which we received which represents the view that the coastline in the Caribbean is being negatively affected by changing climate. The Caribbean is responsible for 7% of the world’s coral reef population. The natural infrastructure which supports the tourist product maybe at deaths door.
David, SaltAsh apartments is still operational.
Glad I came across this blog! Well Written.