Hotel ownership and operation is nothing new to the British holiday giant, Thomas Cook, but could it offer an opportunity for Barbados and help upgrade or bring back in service, hotels like the closed Silver Sands.
According to Thomas Cook’s chief hotels officer, Ingo Burmester, their ‘strategy is to strengthen the quality of our own-brand portfolio which now comprises eight brands’ and ‘growing our airline is a key part of our group strategy, as demonstrated by a capacity growth of 10 per cent in the group this summer’.
Adding ‘Our own brand hotels allow us to give our customers unforgettable holidays, whatever their preference and we want that to start the moment they board the aircraft’.
Currently, one of the in-house airlines A321’s has been painted gold and advertises the new ‘stripped-back’ Cook’s Club hotel brand, which was launched last month. It will be based at their Manchester headquarters and fly to European beach destinations this summer.
Another aircraft will be based in Dusseldorf and will be liveried in the colours of Sentido, a collection of 4 and 5 star hotels also within the group.
Imagine a Barbados liveried long haul plane carrying their own local branded hotel and rather than operating the current seasonal services from Manchester and Gatwick, the route becomes year-round.
To me, Silver Sands would offer a near perfect smart partnership for the tour operator, especially if marketed at a more affordable 3 star level.
Set on a spectacular beach, with ideal conditions for board, kite and windsurfing, plus enough underdeveloped land to expand and introduce new features like a Kids Club, surfing school and additional rooms as demand increased.
All the expertise exists in that area, with our water sports ambassador, Brian Talma, already functioning next door.
With a current 130 rooms, it is also almost the perfect size for a tour operator and takes any perceived risk out of matching airline seat capacity with contracted room allocations, especially during peak periods like school holidays.
I cannot imagine that financing would be a problem for the Thomas Cook Group. As a former tour operator, cash-flow generation through forward deposits and the collection of final balances meant healthy bank statements.
And as other tourism entities have extracted very generous tax concessions, I doubt any administration would put hoops and hurdles in the way of a near two centuries old pioneering travel giant with a proven track record.
To have an additional 130 rooms online could attract another 13,000 long stay visitors a year based on an average 7 night stay, with all the secondary benefit to car rental, activities, attractions, restaurants and alike. Not to forget at least another 100 plus jobs would be filled and probably substantially more.
As always, I extend the courtesy of emailing the named individual in this week’s column to invite any comments, errors or corrections and will also copy to the airlines chief executive officer, Christoph Debus.
Just maybe, some consideration might be given to the concept?
Adrian: I agree with you that utilization of the Silver Sands property would be a good idea. However why is it empty at present? I understand it was a victim of the touristic downturn and did not recover in spite of government assistance. I have stayed at the property in the past , it does have the attraction of being well placed for surfers, however beyond that I found it remote, the beach is certainly not ideal for swimmers. It can be reached by public transportation if you are adventurous , but renting a car is almost mandatory. I would expect any hotelier would expect a deal similar to that given Sandals.
Nothing operates in a vacuum and any client flow into Silver Sands would divert from other properties currently being promoted in Barbados by Thomas Cook. Another issue would be all inclusive? There are many issues involved. I congratulate you however in bringing this idea forward. And hope that it succeeds or at least receives serious consideration
Silver Sands is for sale for $30,000,000.00BBD, it has been vacant for nearly 10 years? Do it’s room configurations and sizes meet the needs of modern tourists, is it handicapped accessible, how much capital would need to be invested beyond the purchase price, and would the hotel be able to be upgraded to meet the expectations of a traveler at any price point?