Almond Resorts At The Cross Roads

Submitted by Adrian Loveridge

Too big to fail’ was one of the many emotive headlines appearing recently and relating to the future, if any, for the Almond Resorts group. Of course the statement could be right. 836 rooms spread across three hotels, which gives the potential of a massive 305,140 room nights annually. Even at an average occupancy of 80 per cent, with two persons staying in each suite for 7 nights, that could amount to almost 70,000 long stay visitors per year.

Already for the summer, Barbados has seen a dramatic decrease in airlift with Virgin, British Airways and Air Canada all scaling back and perhaps more to come with American Airlines. Unless other existing properties, whether hotels, condominiums or villas could absorb what amounts to over 1,300 guests weekly, further flight reductions would be almost inevitable.

The question that seems still to be begging is how was the current Almond Resorts situation was allowed to get to this stage?

Perusing, a 32 page document entitled Circular to Shareholders dated 29th May 2007, so many reasons, some of them extremely evocative, were given why Neal and Massy Holdings Limited and The Barbados Shipping and Trading Company Limited, should in their words ‘merge’. These included: ‘the benefits that would be derived from the sharing of know-how and the creation of such a strategic relationship’; ‘capable of achieving substantial growth in the markets and industries in which the companies operate’ and ‘the new entity will hold top-tier positions in many industrial sectors (including) tourism’.

This document was supported by a three page Fairness opinion synopsis prepared by the highly respected ‘independent’ Miami based Broadspan Securities Llc., which describes itself as a ‘leading restructuring advisor in Latin America and the Caribbean’.

So again, I pose the question, what went so fundamentally wrong?

Many of us in the industry, were surprised to see what was the former Casuarina Beach Club, which recorded one of the highest occupancy and repeat client levels, lay idle for so long. We can only assume that delays obtaining planning permission for expansion was a major factor. The acquisition, whether in terms of ownership or management of another two large (by our standards) hotels in St. Lucia, also caught industry watchers attention. Perhaps the belief was that a sufficiently established and credible brand had been created already with the two original hotels and that this would help fill another roughly one thousand rooms.

Timing, of course can be everything and mitigating this scenario, it is easy to introduce the global economic recession into the equation. But other strong brands have not only survived, some are actually managing to flourish. What is also puzzling, is why the company when ‘merged’ with stated assets exceeding US$1 billion did not spend more on the Barbados based properties to at least maintain, let alone upgrade the plant. Yet, the costs of the legal and financial advisory services to ‘merge’ these organisations had a quoted cost of BDS$5 million alone.

It also became abundantly clear, from many of the TripAdvisor reviewers comments that a considerable percentage of guests did not feel their expectations were being met and this must have severely impacted on new bookings.

I understand a special shareholders meeting is scheduled for this week and let us hope in the interest of our tourism industry a meaningful and satisfactory solution is found to ensure the hotels stay open and staff employed.

0 thoughts on “Almond Resorts At The Cross Roads

  1. Let Almond Resorts go BANKRUPT as they should. No matter what the reason for failure is it’s still FAILURE. Barbados can only seem to manage marginally successful business’s in time when the economy is flying high, any slight recession and they are doomed to failure. Perhaps it’s an ingrained management philosophy, perhaps it’s political interference, perhaps it’s lack of skills, the result is always the same FAILURE. Then again maybe third world countries cannot operate with the same expectations as the first world.

  2. If we allow businesses of size to fail, in this case one that will impact unemployment about 2 to 3 thousand people and lose forex, what happens as a result? Barbados is a 2 by 3 economy, a 4 billion dollar economy. Can we manage the social cost in a sluggish global economy?

  3. As an English tourist frequenting Almond Resorts in Barbados over 20 times in the last 12 years I totally agree. Why has no money ever been spent on proper renovations at Almond Beach Village. Over the past 12 years nothing apart from a coat of paint has ever been done to the resort. Now it is old and need a major refurbishment and why can’t the management see what they have done to this once fantastic resort. Instead of buying new hotels which have now been sold their efforts should have been in keeping the resort in top condition. Now 100’s of fantastic people are at risk in losing their jobs which not only affects Barbados but us in the UK as well !!!

  4. I had always fear the inroads that trinidadains companies were making into our economic sphere and now we are o bailout thise ciminals who seem bent on destroying once profitbale bajan businesses. glad that they cant get their hands on goddard enterprises.

    • All this lotta long talk about too big to fail and bailout..Four Seasons, Almond Resorts, REDjet, CLICO. Why didn’t Rayside get a government bailout when it was on its it because it was a black owned and operated business? No way – Was eventually bought out by CLICO. Did JulieN get a bailout? None – was eventually bought out by the Brydens/Stokes & Bynoe/R L Seale & Co./Goddard Enterprises/Tweedside Supply consortium. Did Budg-Buy or Ricks get a bailout? No…they were forced to close!! Is it because they were black businesses and not considered worthy of a bailout or intervention by Government of the day? What about Husbands Wrought Iron and all those great local manufacturers back in the 1980’s that brought in significant foreign exchange to Barbados. Seems as if taxpayers money are only supposed to bailout certain troubled businesses and not others or a case of different strokes for different strokes. Taxpayers money don’t seem to have any sense (not cents)when governed by who we as the electorate appoint to use it for us in our best interests. Mia Mottley said it best when she said “its all about campaign financing”

      A view received via email. Is there reason to compare you think?

    • The media has publicized a meeting at Almond in St. Peter today where Chairman Arthur Lok Jack will report on the state of play with the hotel.

  5. And BTW did Rayside not contribute to the campaigns like the other companies that seek Government contracts?

  6. @David’s e.mail receipt. Most of the businesses mentioned were plundered by their owners and managers, as was CLICO, and I suspect so is Almond. Properly-run business owners and managers make sure that the business is sound before they start travelling the world first class and buying the Beemers and Benz’s. This lot put the cart before the horse – status was more important to them than getting the fundamentals right. No planning for a rainy day, just live for the moment. Steupse!

  7. “Blogger2012 | April 2, 2012 at 5:01 PM | I had always fear the inroads that trinidadains companies were making into our economic sphere and now we are o bailout thise ciminals who seem bent on destroying once profitbale bajan businesses. glad that they cant get their hands on goddard enterprises.”

    the trinidadians ,Neal and Massey, only bought Almond a few years ago as part of the package with BS&T. i dont think they can reasonably be blamed for almond failure as it is far too short a period to have hasdd that impact. it must lie on the shoulders of almond and BS&T managent.
    the word coming out is that it is result of overleveraging, not reinvesting the profits in the good years, management systems, bloated top management and poor customer service.
    that is what seems to be appearing in the press

  8. This failure did not occur overnight. And I FIRMLY believe governments should try to stay out of private sector demises. It starts a BAD precedent. I was dismayed at the BS&T merger. Still am.

    It is a pillage and plunder mentality with these Trinidadian companies. Grab what you can, and run. Burn it to the ground.

    One can never blame the buyer. It is the seller(s)

  9. StarCom news have reported this afternoon that Almond Beach Village will close 30 April 2012 with the loss of 500 jobs.

  10. It is a pillage and plunder mentality with these Trinidadian companies.

    And what do you think Capitalist foreign Investors do ?

    Bajans are some of the best consumers in the world. Just bring and they will buy it.
    Barbados is a great “profit centre” for the Trinis and others.

  11. I am picturing Almond (St Peter) as a Clothing Optional (Nudist) colony, with roulette tables and black jack … Butch Stuart capitalises on it …

  12. You need to re-picture then…no gambling nor no naked girls for our West Coast BAFBFP.
    Besides Butch like he is not really that interested in a going concern but as real estate.,,Paradise remember

  13. We need a variation of the Altman suggestion.

    Build a Dubai style “Island” with vegas type Hotel Casinos half mile offshore from the west coast.
    It could have private beaches like Jamaica Sandals.

  14. ….and what about Ralph Taylor’s role in Almond?? He has been the constant going back over the 17 years of the resort and has had major ties to the BLP and the DLP.

    He has been a master of self promotion and has been at the top of Barbados Tourism and Almond for a long time. It is interesting that both Almond and Barbados Tourism are on the way down!

    Has he led Barbados Tourism and Almond effective or has he just made himself FAT (figuratively of course)????

  15. @TML
    By FAT …do you mean..owns a hotel in St.Lucia….a construction co. in Bim and whatever else figuretively ?

  16. @Wily Coyote | April 2, 2012 at 2:20 PM |
    “… it’s political interference, perhaps it’s lack of skills, the result is always the same FAILURE. Then again maybe third world countries cannot operate with the same expectations as the first world.”

    Singapore was a third world country like Barbados was. many years ago, Frank Walcott refused to let a Crane work in the Bridgetown port. it would have been profitable for goods to off load at our port for reshipment to other parts of the Caribbean but that clown did all he could to halt it, refusing to see the benefits to Barbados. Singapore was in the same situation but did otherwise, now they have a harbour with cranes line off, the rest is history. every thing in barbados has to be ab out politics. in almond beach resort i feel sorry for those workers who were persuaded some years ago to buy its shares. but somehow i think if these hotels would reduce their rates on everything, it would be better for them.

  17. Almond is more deserving of a bail out than Four Seasons…so saids Noel Barney Lynch…..GOOD POINT…he says it represents 15 of our dwindling tourism revenue.Notwithstanding..its a going if NIS has $ 40 mil to throw…why not consider Almond ?

  18. A bail out under current ownership and management??????…..No way in HELL!!!!

    It is clear that there has been major mismanagement by the Almond Chairman/CEO/Managing Director or whatever his title is…. Ralph Taylor!!

    Not only has this mismanagement been at Almond but in his role at Barbados Tourism as well, notice what a dive tourism has taken over the last few years!

    The Barbados Government, Almond and Neal and Massey have been suckered in by his masterful self promotion!

    I do not blame Neal and Massey.

    The management of BS&T made out like bandits when Neal and Massey took over; and it was known then by the management of BS&T what terrible shape Almond was in…..

    blame the political connections that kept Mr. Taylor in control!

  19. All roads led to Ralph Taylor. The people around him believed in him to the extent that they sucked in all his wild decisions while refusing to upgrade Almond. Face reality. This is a Bajan problem. Somewhat like the CLICO issue. Don’t fall for all this attack on the Trinidadians. They may have to speak out! Alot of people wont like it.

  20. Who is afraid of the oily blue wolf ? Ralph could not in this day and age have made decisions on his own…unlike in CLICO case….where Duprey and Parris wereSoo>-, Ralph still had to report to Warner as business men.

    Look if Trinidad wanna shut down SBI..go ahead…ICB go ahead ..StarCOm go ahead…Nation News..go ahead….BNB…go ahead….NUFF people go be outta WUK
    Hope you get my point.

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