Sandals Almond Chronology III

Submitted by Due Diligence

After reviewing media reports over the past couple of years I have updated my chronology of the Sandals/Almond saga, with particular attention  to the Heywoods property.

To summarize:

  • In April 2012, Almond Beach Village closed its doors to guests sending 500 workers on the breadline.
  • November 2012 Neal & Massy Group CEO, Gervase Warner, revealed three private sector parties, Jamaica’s Sandals Resorts headed by Gordon Butch Stewart, a group led by local businessman Bjorn Bjerkhamn, and Paul Doyle’s Crane Resorts had all submitted bids to buy the St. Peter hotel.  The original trio had been reduced to one “preferred buyer” and the necessary paper work to complete the transaction was underway. Sources said Paul Doyle of The Crane was the front-runner.
  • Apparently, some time in early/mid 2013 Cabinet decided that because the Crane proposal was quite similar to the existing Crane model, which involves building accommodation based on sales and would therefore take a full decade to fully realise its potential; it would fail to achieve increased visitor arrivals in the next few years and would not assist Barbados in protecting its airlift.  Cabinet decided the Sandals proposal would better suit the national interest – in the short term.
  • But, as the Sandals “proposal” apparently did not contemplate using its own capital to purchase the Heywoods property, in September 2013, the Freundel Stuart Cabinet determined it would purchase the property from Neal and Massy for US$53 million, with an initial cash payment of US$25 million and the balance of US$28 million being paid over three years at an interest rate that is still to be agreed between the two parties. Additionally,  Cabinet determined that Sandals be given the nod to operate and manage a rebuilt Almond under the Beaches brand, with an option to purchase the property at a future date, and instructed the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. to work with Sandals Resort International “to have a Sandals Beaches Resort in Barbados within three to four weeks”. Think this should be three to for years,
  • October 2013, in a Ministerial Statement MOT Sealy announced the  signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Sandals Resorts International (SRI) for the development of Sandals Beaches at Heywoods.”  He added that Sandals Beaches will initially be owned by the Government of Barbados, but Sandals Resort International has received an option to purchase this property. Further the purchase and development of Sandals Beaches will require expenditure in excess of BDS$500 million.  And, we are in discussions with the People’s Republic of China for the provision of concessional funding for this  project”.
  • Now, in the January 24, 2014, edition of the Nation, Bernie Weatherhead Chairman of Sun Group Inc., says Sun has a commitment from the Government of Barbados to operate or manage Almond Village (Heywoods) up until April/May 2015, at which time the Government may go through with the contract with Beaches.
  • So, according to Bernie, Sun has the Heywoods property locked up until May 2015, so the bulldozing of the existing plant cannot start until then.  He says ““We’re going to demonstrate that this hotel can run at high occupancy and to make money for the Government”.
  • With Sun having the property locked up until May 2015, how does the Sandals/Beaches “proposal” achieve increased visitor arrivals and assist Barbados in protecting its airlift in the next few years
  • What are the details of the contract with Beaches, the MOU with SRI (Butch) for the Heywoods property?
  • Has the Government been able secure the China financing for $500 million?
  • Can Government opt out of the deal with Butch if Bernie can make Almond Village work to the benefit of the owners; or can Butch walk away from the deal if he changes his mind?
  • Either way, one of the major players in the tourism business, Bernie or Butch, is going to be really pissed at Government in April 2015.
  • The, owners of the property, the taxpayers, deserve to know the details of the MOU.
  • And of course, with bulldozing of the existing plant delayed until at least May 2015, a new Beaches plant at Heywoods can not be contemplated until 2017/2018.  So, the Sandals/Beaches deal will not increase visitor arrivals i and would be unable to assist Barbados in protecting its airlift n the next few years.
  • Maybe the Crane proposal was not so bad after all.

And, I have asked before, which party bought Casuarina; Sandals or GOB? and how much was paid?

15 thoughts on “Sandals Almond Chronology III

  1. This is exactly why some people don’t like BU.

    BU exposes that no one ever feels compelled to tell the taxpaying masses exactly what the facts are as it relates to these mega deals.

    I am a loss to understand how a project as big as Four Seasons had to be all or nothing.
    Yet individuals have built mansions on the West coast one at a time.

    Bernie is going to make a lot of money at Almond. Just watch.

  2. @Georgie Porgie,

    Interesting but a clear demonstration of how Government finds ways to enrich some people off taxpayers money.

    • We debate the concessions which Butch has received well let us discussed what Bernie has gotten as well.

      On 26 January 2014 22:45, Barbados Underground

  3. All you have to figure out is who else benefitting from the deal.

    It will probably come out over time that the complexity of the deal allowed for certain leakages that paid off some old cronies who were hanging around waiting for their piece.

  4. The Government subsidizes tow major industries in Barbados. Tourism and Sugar.

    Government uses taxpayers money to subsidize these industry.

    The tax payers have a right to know the details of these subsidies including commissions paid to facilitators.

    I believe that unbridled greed driven by the desire to become millionaires or multi millionaires can impair the judgement of some politicians.

  5. @ Hants
    While we are lucky to have someone like Due Diligence to connect the dots and present such a clear picture of brass bowlery, Bushie’s position is that it don’t take a bright spark like DD to spot shiite

    …..Wuh we can’t smell?

    …anytime you see somebody take up $50M dollars that DONT BELONG TO THEM……and buy an abandoned hotel; then pay millions more to knock it down; then BORROW $500M (that THEY will not have to pay back – taxpayers will) ….to rebuild the hotel;



    …but Bajans just smile like female rabbits and shrug their shoulders….
    Thank you Due D…..
    REAL brass bowls…..!!!


    Hants , FOI will let us all know who getting what , We will be very mad if they knew, Kick backs and all , over pricing ,and so on , Only person who now want FOI for self is MIA and then she will tell us what she want us to know , A bluff for the NEWs.Crooks liars and scumbags all the same ,

  7. If I were a cynical person I would be believing right now that Paul Doyle was not prepared to pay kickbacks and that is why he does not have his hands on that property. However, I am not a cynic so I would be leaving those thoughts to someone else.

  8. DLP website under the banner ‘Reliable, Honest and Focused’

    states – ‘Since accepting its first guest on November 6, 2013 the 280 room hotel is fully booked up to March 2014’

    Not according to the Barbados Advocate article today
    Sandals perfecting its Barbados package

    Once again, who is telling the truth?


    Thank you for your kind comments.

    The Advocate article at link provided by Adrian quotes General Manager at Sandals Resort, Josef Zellner. saying:
    “Presently, we have about 340 guests in-house, that translates based on the rooms we operate, to about 75 per cent.”

    The Casuarina property has 280 rooms, so capacity for 560 guest at two to a room.

    340 guests = about 60% of 560 – 280 rooms
    340 guests = about 75% of 450 – 225 rooms

    Is it the case that occupancy is actually 60%, or that 55 rooms are out of operation for Sandalization?

    Either way, it is a long way from fully booked.

    And, how many of these bookings were inherited from Couples bookings.

    Reliable, Honest and Focused???????

    DEM has taken spin to new HEIGHTS or LOWS

  10. @ Caswell Franklyn

    My recollection from what was said in the media was that part of Doyle’s proposal was for NIS to be involved in the financing. A quick search returned this: see cut and paste below.

    Nation: We are also hearing that you have made some form of approach to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). What do you want from them at this stage?

    Doyle: I have already told you we are looking at a public offering in the later part of this year. We would never ask NIS to do anything that wasn’t in their economic interest, their business interest, in looking after the pensioners of Barbados. So whatever we would ask would be based solely on the merits of our financial performance.

    Nation: But what does that mean in real terms? What is your proposal to the NIS?

    Doyle: The key point is NIS, and this has been controversial. So I don’t want to [add to the controversy], but we would not ask NIS to do anything that they would not want to do as an investment on their own. So whatever proposal goes out has to be able to stand alone; and whatever social benefits, [they’re] icing on the cake. But the meat has to be based on the same thing with a public offer.

    What I am proud of is our sales have steadily risen every year during a recession, our profits have remained intact [and] our retained earnings have steadily increased. So there is a good financial story to tell with good equity and good profits and a great management team.

    On that basis we are going to be approaching investors in general to share with us in moving forward in not just this project, but all of Crane.

  11. Love Bernie Weatherhead’s confidence. However I think we need the international brand if not there then somewhere else. Sandals is advertised heavily on American domestic channels and might be able to add some more American tourist to the mix. That being said I am no expert.

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