The Adrian Loveridge Column – Local Media to Blame

Writing a weekly column on a single subject (tourism) can certainly be challenging at times, especially when you tread that fine line, trying to extract meaningful answers to questions that some of us think should be a matter of public record, but that our politicians and policy makers feel should remain a dark secret.

You stand an enormous risk of upsetting some individuals who somehow often hold the power to negatively affect your well being, or who can influence decision makers that ensure you are held back or stifled in business dealings.

It comes with the territory and if you are going to be labelled as outspoken or controversial by a few, it’s something you have to get used to. Conversely, if our guardians of democracy were more open or candid, would it not benefit the country at large?

Just occasionally questions raised eventually get some attention, even if its years later.

A classic example is the recent disclosure questioning the accountability and payment of VAT (value added tax) by one of our tourism operators.

I raised this very point in the Tourism MATTERS column back on 16th December 2013, after a personal stay at one of the properties involved.



Fast forward almost six years and only after attention grabbing bold headlines detailing a class action suit, quoting the words ‘alleged tax fraud’ being initiated in the United States and disseminated globally is the matter finally receiving interest at the highest level?

Of course- in the case of Barbados- in the intervening period there has been a dramatic change of Government, but surely with the amount of potential lost taxes involved which could amount in this solitary location to at least BDS$20 million annually – any administration in a self -declared economically beleaguered state would surely want to rapidly deal with the problem and be seen to be doing so?

What puzzles many of us is that we as hoteliers in Barbados are required to submit VAT returns on a frequent and timely basis and if submissions are late, severe penalties with fines and interest are applied and enforced.

So how would it be possible to avoid this legal obligation for so many years without full Government knowledge and possible complicity?

Returning to the start of this column, are ‘we’ wrong to raise these questions and reasonably expect credible answers?

Unless these areas of concern are addressed in an absolutely transparent manner, there will forever remain the belief there is one law applied to some and a different one to others.

Butch Stewart’s Sandals Features in the Fraud Section of the UK News

The following articles is reproduced in the public interest – David, Blogmaster

Sandals Resorts ‘operated decades-long tax fraud by charging guests 12% rates but pocketed the cash in secret deal with local Caribbean governments,’ class action lawsuit claims

  • Sandals Resorts has been hit with a class action lawsuit in Florida on Tuesday over an alleged tax fraud scheme run at its Caribbean resorts 
  • The company is accused of charging guests 12% tax rates but instead of handing over the money, the funds are ‘secretly retained by Sandals for its own profit’ 
  • Plantiff Vitali Feldman stayed at a Sandals Resorts in 2017, 2018 and 2019, along with his wife and two children and claims he fell victim to the alleged scheme
  • His lawyers claim customers were ‘deceived into paying such tax that was, in fact, being secretly retained by Defendants for their own use, benefit and profit’
  • Lawyers claim Sandals Resorts settled with the government of Antigua and Barbuda over unpaid sales tax totaling $37.5M, and paid only 37 cents  
  • The class action lawsuit is seeking at least $5 million
  • Sandals Resorts denied the allegations saying: ‘Our valued guests have never been unlawfully charged for taxes and allegations to the contrary are false’ 

Sandals Resorts has been hit with a massive lawsuit over claims the company worked in concert with local Caribbean governments in a decades-long tax fraud scheme, according to court papers obtained by

Sandals is accused of charging guests 12 percent tax rates but instead of handing over the money to local governments, the funds are ‘secretly retained by Sandals for its own profit’, according to the suit filed in Florida federal court on Tuesday.

New Jersey resident Vitali Feldman is the only named plaintiff in the suit and hired Miami-based law firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman to represent him, along with any others who join the suit, which is seeking at least $5 million.

Sandals Resorts has been hit with a massive lawsuit over claims the company worked in concert with local Caribbean governments in a decades-long tax fraud scheme, has learned

Sandals Resorts has been hit with a massive lawsuit over claims the company worked in concert with local Caribbean governments in a decades-long tax fraud scheme, has learned

Feldman vacationed at a Sandals Resorts in 2017, 2018 and 2019, along with his wife and two young children.

He claims he fell victim to the alleged scheme when he was charged with the ‘all inclusive’ tax rate of 12 percent of the total cost of his stay.

Lawyers claim current and past customers were ‘deceived into paying such tax [in whole or in part] that was, in fact, being secretly retained by Defendants for their own use, benefit and profit’.

The suit states: ‘At all times material, it is represented to the public and Plaintiffs and others similarly situated that the ‘all inclusive’ packages include ”all taxes.”

‘The way the charges were presented to the guests was described in a deceptive way by labeling the charge(s) as a local government tax, when in fact Sandals was charging more money for the room.’

In a statement to, a spokesperson for Sandals Resorts said: ‘Our customers are our top priority and under no circumstances would we exploit their faith in us.

‘Our valued guests have never been unlawfully charged for taxes and allegations to the contrary are downright false. Not only do we conduct our business with pricing transparency, we meet all of our tax obligations in each of the islands where we call home.

‘We take great pride in being the gold standard in the islands where we operate and have spent close to four decades providing guests with the most comprehensive vacation experience bar none.

‘We will of course vigorously defend against these baseless allegations.’

Sandals is accused of charging guests 12 percent tax rates but instead of handing over the money to local governments, the funds are 'secretly retained by Sandals for its own profit', according to the lawsuit filed in Florida federal court on Tuesday


Sandals is accused of charging guests 12 percent tax rates but instead of handing over the money to local governments, the funds are ‘secretly retained by Sandals for its own profit’, according to the lawsuit filed in Florida federal court on Tuesday

In court papers, lawyers claim all guests of Beaches Turks & Caicos, which falls under Sandals Resorts’ ownership, paid a 12 percent accommodation tax.

But ‘unknown to Plaintiffs and others similarly situated is the existence of an agreement between Sandals and the Turks and Caicos government permitting Sandals to retain a significant percentage of such taxes for its own use and benefit instead of remitting the monies to the government,’ the suit claims.

It adds: ‘These tax charges are used to generate extra profit at the expense of Plaintiff and others similarly situated, who were deceived into believing the fees are legitimate charges directly related to Sandals’ owed and paid taxes to the government.

‘In fact, the fees are nothing but profit-enhancers disguised as taxes that have a legitimate purpose, constituting a violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.’

Sandals Resorts is accused of running the same alleged scheme at its resorts in Grande Antigua, Barbados and Royal Barbados where guests are charged a 12.5 percent sales tax.

Again, Sandals Resorts allegedly ‘retained a significant percentage of such taxes for its own use and benefit instead of remitting the monies to the government’, due to ‘an agreement between Sandals and the Antigua and Barbuda government’.

The suit adds: ‘By bundling the fees, taxes, and other charges into the all-inclusive package, Sandals is able to conceal the fact that consumers were being vastly overcharged for the all-inclusive resort package due to the agreement to retain a large portion of the taxes.

‘In short, Sandals has, through fraud, deception, omission and/or concealment, engaged in a pattern of unlawful profiteering, deceit, and self-dealing with regard to charging a local government tax and retaining a large percentage of such.’

The lawyers claim in court papers that Sandals Resorts settled with the government of Antigua and Barbuda over unpaid sales tax totaling $37.5 million up to late December of 2016.

Sandals Resorts agreed to pay $1 East Caribbean Dollar, which is around 37 cents, which the government accepted.

‘Because the government stipulated to not collect the $37.5 million and Sandals retained such monies, Plaintiffs and other similarly situated are entitled to these monies as it relates to the taxes they were fraudulently and deceptively charged,’ according to court papers.

The class action lawsuit is seeking at least $5 million, exclusive of interest and costs.

Questions Need Answering at Sandals in Heywoods

Submitted by Tee White

As someone who grew up bathing on Heywoods beach, I am extremely concerned at the way Sandals construction of their Beaches hotel there is going. Putting aside for now, the current disagreement between the government and Butch Stewart over the indemnities Sandals want signed into law, there are other aspects of what is going on there that need urgent attention.

First, representatives of Sandals have repeatedly stated at public meetings in Speightstown that the construction of the hotel would not result in worse access to the beach for local people than we enjoyed previously. However, Sandals has carried out beach reconstruction which pushes the shoreline out into what used to be the sea. As a result, the traditional path onto the beach from the Speightstown end, which has been used for as long as I can remember, will now be well above the high water mark and so fall squarely within Sandals’ private property. There is a need for an ironclad undertaking from Sandals that this traditional path will remain open for use by local people as an access route onto the beach.

Secondly, Sandals has given repeated assurances that the construction of the new hotel would be done in such a way as to avoid damaging the local environment. However, they have been using crushed limestone as part of the reconstruction of the beach. This material which is produced and supplied by C.O.Williams Construction Company Ltd is entirely different in appearance and texture to natural beach sand. I understand that the intention is to deposit this material in the sea and use dredged beach sand at the later stages of the project to finish off the beach. However, the use of this material is having a negative impact on the environment. When it is placed in the sea, it is producing a white film that covers the water and nearby reefs and also causing increased cloudiness in the water, thereby affecting the sea life. In addition, while it is stacked on the beach it is interfering with the nesting of the turtles, particularly for the hatchlings which have difficulty digging their way out of it.

Sandals promised that the Heywoods beach would be reopened for public use by December 2018. It’s now April 2019 and the beach is still not opened. It’s essential that the people of Barbados do not allow Sandals to break any more of their promises with regard to the construction of this hotel.

Mia Mottley Refuses to Dance the “Sandals Shuffle”

Afra Raymond unpacks the Sandals matter in his recent blogpost , Property Matters – Sandals Shuffle, AGAIN – David, Afra Raymond

“…we are running a Country, not a Company…”
—Mia Mottley QC MP, Barbados PM – from her inaugural budget Wednesday, 20 March 2019

This title occurred to me due to the quiet backsliding of the main supporters of the Tobago Sandals project. This is the kind of situation where people thought they were operating safely in the dark, until someone suddenly opens the door and turns on the lights. The emergence of Sandals’ recent skirmishes have also reminded me of a shuffle.

Those shameless promoters told the public repeatedly about how satisfactory the existing arrangements were for State-owned hotels and went on to explain the special benefits of Sandals and so on and so forth. The steady exposure of the rickety arrangements for the existing hotels and the publication of the Tobago Sandals MoU have combined to end the scheme. Sunlight is really the best disinfectant.

The decisive point here, in terms of the important issue of Caribbean Leadership Standards, is that our current political administration agreed to make tax/duty/work permit concessions to Sandals for that Tobago project which the State was funding. In all the other Sandals projects and their various issues about concessions, about which we are hearing so much, those hotels were built by Sandals. In Tobago, our Treasury was going to fund the entire resort and yet our politicians were intending to grant concessions, facilitate transfer-pricing and allow Sandals free choice in respect of goods and services. No wonder those Sandals officials were smiling the whole time. I tell you.

Please note that this kind of deal is not found anywhere else on the planet. That is for those supporters who want to chat about how Sandals transformed here or there. Here is the only country in which we were going to pay for the entire resort. Under the terms of that MoU Sandals was putting no money at risk. None.

None of the former defenders of Tobago Sandals seem ready, willing or able to defend their proposals, now that the actual agreed intentions have been disclosed. We are yet to hear any T&T leader even hint at repudiating any of the detrimental terms agreed in that Tobago Sandals MoU.

That position is quite different from that of the Barbados PM Mia Mottley QC who in delivering her first budget on Wednesday 20th March 2019 spoke strongly against Sandals proposals to obtain certain guarantees which would have prevented them from being taxed any differently for a term of 40 years. PM Mottley was clear in rejecting the Sandals proposals as being inimical to the stability of their country, and diluting the role of Parliament in establishing taxes. ‘…we are running a country, not a company‘ was a striking phrase used by PM Mottley, one for us to remember.

Read full blog post –

Property Matters – Sandals Shuffle

Graphic credit: Afra Raymond

Sandals Barbados Backstory

The following letter was shared by a trusted source – David, blogmaster

Dear Editor,

The Sandals Barbados fiasco: Throwing out the baby with the bathwater, otherwise known in the Caribbean as snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

My name is James Bristol. I am a lawyer from Grenada and I negotiated the incentive agreements with the government of Barbados on behalf of Sandals.

I have read the recent statements both from the Prime Minister and Sandals and would like to clarify certain matters.

May I state from the outset that I have no political axe to grind and no political affiliations in Barbados.

I met the former Minister of Finance for the first time during the negotiations of the incentives and have not met him since.

I know the Prime Minister both as a colleague and as a friend.

The Sandals Barbados incentives are based on those which I negotiated for Sandals in respect of the Sandals Grenada hotel. The Barbados incentives are more generous than those in respect of Grenada.

The present Prime Minister of Grenada publicly expressed his initial concern over the generous incentives granted to Sandals in Grenada by the previous administration.

However, on attaining office and seeing the financial benefits of the Sandals investment in Grenada, the Prime Minister, not only endorsed the incentives granted, but added to them by including a tax stabilization clause to ensure that the incentives, and therefore the financial viability of the investment by Sandals, was not threatened or whittled away by future legislation.

The Sandals Grenada incentives took effect during a period of financial austerity under the IMF. The IMF program was successfully completed notwithstanding the Sandals incentives which incentives were fully implemented and respected by the Government at all times.

A large part of Grenada’s economic recovery has been attributed to Sandals and I am aware that the Grenada Government is doing all that is within its power to facilitate a Beaches Resort here.

Grenada’s enhancement extends to one of the most sophisticated call centres in the region with over 100 employees and increasing. All from Sandals!

As it is well known, Grenada‘s performance has been applauded by the IMF and Grenada is recording one of the highest rates of growth in the Caribbean.

Indeed, the Sandals incentive model has been adopted by the Government of Grenada for other hotel investments.

If Grenada can survive an IMF program while these incentives are in place and come out with flying colours despite the incentives, why is Barbados finding it difficult to honour an agreement reached in good faith between itself and Sandals?

The Barbados agreement was given effect by Statutory Instruments laid before Parliament under the applicable legislation. I drafted those statutory instruments in conjunction with the government’s legal department.
Far from insisting on additional incentives, Sandals is simply seeking to have certain incentives, not within the Statutory Instruments but within the Incentives Agreement, embodied in some form which would give a level of comfort to its bankers and itself to the extent that the financial basis for the investment remains stable so as to guarantee the ability to repay the loans in respect of the proposed Beaches project.

The Barbados incentives agreement contains a clause which mandates the Government to pass all laws and take all steps which are necessary to give effect to the agreement.

So, the Government is mandated to find avenues to give effect to its obligations under the agreement.

Much has been said over the years about Barbados giving Sandals too much by way of these incentives. Indeed, the same has been said in Grenada and Antigua.

The truth is that none of these countries has given away anything because without the incentives Sandals would not have invested. If Sandals did not come the Government would not have a development nor the benefit of the taxes. Therefore, if Sandals does come and pays reduced taxes, the Government has lost nothing. On the other hand, by Sandals coming, the Government has gained everything by way of the investment and its associated benefits. Sandals is the entity taking the risk by investing its money and being unable to dig up its hotels and take them away if things turn sour.

The way I see the incentives agreement is akin to an invitation to a friend to come to one’s home. The invitation allows them through the door and once inside the benefits of that friendship accrue.

The initial investment which Sandals proposed was the construction of two hotels: Beaches and Sandals.

But an added benefit arose as the Sandals Casuarina hotel has morphed into two hotels, Sandals Barbados and Royal Barbados, at about the same level of investment which was envisaged for the two original hotels, the total invested thus far being over US$300 million.

With the Beaches project the total investment is about US$750 million. Barbados now stands to benefit from 3 hotels as opposed to 2.

The corresponding employment and other benefits have been well documented by others with greater knowledge than me in this regard.

No one can argue that Sandals has delivered over and above what it agreed to do. Has the Government fully delivered on what it contracted to do?

The simple question I would pose to the Government and people of Barbados is this: would it benefit your country if there were no Sandals hotels? Think of the benefits of Sandals building the five star Beaches as opposed to the negative impact on your country and economy if the project is cancelled?
The answers are obvious: any investment of the type made by Sandals is a benefit.

Do not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Mia please call Keith. Keith, please explain to Mia.

James Bristol
Henry, Henry & Bristol
P. O. Box 386
4 & 6 Lucas Street
St. George’s

Should Sandals Follow Lok Jack’s Footsteps?

Submitted by Fatimah Mohammed

The billionaire businessman, Arthur Lok Jack, spoke on Wednesday night at the Sandals forum at UWI on the reasons why the proposed hotel resort pulled out of Tobago.

Lok Jack was visibly and audibly angry. He said his long-time friend, Sandals Chairman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart disclosed to him the real reason for the withdrawal. Lok Jack said Stewart was really upset with the criticisms of Sandals by the UNC Opposition.

Both men believed that the UNC denied its supporters in Trinidad the opportunity to grow and supply agricultural products to Sandals in Tobago. Lok Jack said: “It’s the same people in the United National Congress (UNC), it’s the Indian constituencies of this country who are the farmers” who would respond to the “tremendous amount of demand” by Sandals.

Is this forecast really based on the facts of history?

Lok Jack is the CEO of the Associated Brands Group of Companies (ABIL) which is the leading manufacturer and distributor in the Caribbean of snack foods, chocolate confectionery, biscuits and breakfast cereals. Its brands include Charles Chocolates, Devon Biscuits, Sunshine Snacks, and Universal Foods Limited.

Has ABIL ever supported farmers in Trinidad and Tobago to cultivate and supply sugar for its snacks, corn for its flakes, coconut for its cream filling and shortcake, and rice for its rice crisps?

Has ABDIL ever supported farmers in the UNC “Indian constituencies”, or any farmer in Trinidad to raise cows to supply milk for its milk chocolates and nacho cheese?

If Lok Jack is so concerned about Indian farmers, why did he not step in to save the sugar- growing Caroni Ltd in 2003? His ABIL has been in existence since 1974.

Lok Jack is clearly playing politics.

If he is serious, he should set his own footprints for Sandals to follow.

Tobago Sandals Roles

Afra Raymond continues the advocacy struggle on behalf of the people – Blogmaster

This article will delve into the roles of the various officials and public Institutions who are responsible for this Tobago Sandals MoU.

Information Approach

This process followed the familiar pattern of information management, in which the ‘Underlying Commercial Arrangements’ are intentionally obscured, while other details are selectively provided.

That MoU also contains a confidentiality clause which only permits any disclosure with the agreement of the other party. The parties promised each other to keep those important secrets safe.

Read full article – Property Matters – Tobago Sandals Roles

The Sandals Re-MoU

Afra Raymond continues his relentless prosecution of the Sandals MoU matter in Trinidad – Blogmaster

Screenshot 2019-01-01 at 16.37.01.pngMany years ago, in an earlier life, I was taught about the perils of the short-lived ‘remou’ and that word snapped back into my mind when considering the current position with this Sandals MoU, in which all points are supposedly open for discussion. That stated position of no signed contracts will be the subject of this article. So many eminent people and responsible institutions were involved in this matter, that it is unfathomable how our Government could have signed that Sandals MoU on 10th October 2017.

My campaign to have that MoU made public got this far due its clear focus on the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) and the ‘Underlying Commercial Arrangements’, which are never discussed in public. The decisive element in the complicated process of creating these large-scale projects is intentionally kept from public view, by agreement. Our national assets are traded and degraded for decades, after the sheer outrage of colonialism, with the new leaders relying on the cultivated economic and financial illiteracy of our citizens.

Read full articleProperty Matters – The Sandals Re-MoU

Property Matters – The Sandals MoU (3)

Two weeks after the publication of the Tobago Sandals MoU yet there has been no cogent defence of these detrimental provisions. The stark analysis is that the provisions of that MoU all favour Sandals’ interests, so much so that I am frankly wondering if they were the authors. Serious and inescapable questions of professional responsibility arise, given the eminent named persons and State Agencies said to have been involved thus far.

The reputable economist Dr Vanus James, writing in the TapiaHouse blog on 10th December 2018 described the Tobago Sandals MoU as ‘A road-map to economic ruin’.

The starting-point for me was to tackle the question put to me the morning before by a media colleague from Tobago as to my being ‘a Trinidadian‘ and my role in questioning these proposals for what is certainly the largest-ever single development in Tobago. The simple fact is that ours is a tiny Republic such that those positions hardly seem to be credible. After all, if one were to adopt such a position we could end up excluding the Charlotteville opinion for a Buccoo proposal. More seriously, that position is entirely incompatible with our Regional aspirations – after all, why should we in T&T bother with Grenada which is 90 miles away or even Barbados, which is a whole 270 miles away. You see?

The main provisions are in this table.

Read full text

Afra Raymond Analyzes Sandals MOU

Disclaimer, do not read this blog if you are a navel gazer. Congratulations to Afra and his team for forcing this matter – David, blogmaster

29th November 2018 was the first hearing of my Judicial Review of the refusal of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to provide a copy of the Tobago Sandals Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which I had requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) since 27th February 2018. At that hearing, the OPM agreed to provide the MoU and pay my costs, so my lawsuit was withdrawn.

This Tobago Sandals MoU was signed on 10th October 2017 and should have been disclosed long ago, without any necessity for legal action on my part. The PM and Minister Stuart Young repeatedly told the public that these details could not be published as that would undermine these important negotiations and so on and so forth.

Nine months of delays and obfuscation verging on an abuse of process, but that is just my opinion, as the OPM was advised by eminent Senior Counsel, Deborah Peake.

When the MoU was released at a press conference the evening before, Minister Stuart Young was emphatic that the decision to publish had nothing to do with me or my litigation. One has to wonder at the quality of advice being taken by the Cabinet.

We had to endure expensive time-wasting and elaborate waffle, dripping with disdain, about ‘sophisticated investors‘ and ‘how government business really runs‘. Well this is a good time to examine the actual Tobago Sandals MoU and see how sophisticated investors really work and learn how government business really runs. This is a serious teaching moment.

There were many positive features in the MoU (embedded below) in favour of Sandals. In fact, the MoU is so protective of Sandals’ interests that one can scarcely imagine how on earth we the public will ever profit from this immense investment. This article details my concerns on the decisive provisions of the MoU.

Read Afra’s full analysis


GOVERNMENT has finally provided chartered surveyor Afra Raymond with a copy of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sandals Resort which provides crucial information on the deal for construction of a 500-700-room hotel in Tobago.

Senior Counsel Deborah Peake confirmed this to Justice Frank Seepersad this morning in the San Fernando High Court.

In October, the judge ruled for Raymond in a judicial review lawsuit he filed because of the State’s failure to provide him with details about the deal.

Raymond contended that the proposed hotel resort, to be constructed on prime state lands in Tobago, the cost of which the State will bear after which Sandals will operate, will impact on the use of water, electricity, solid waste and further infrastructural development of the airport in Tobago.

Gov’t hands over MoU with Sandals to Afra Raymond/Newsday

Read a copy of the MOU posted in the BU Library:

Click to access sandals-mou-scan.pdf


Property Matters – Sandals Splinters



Afra Raymond, Citizen Advocate


In writing on the extent to which Public Money is stolen or wasted and the need for proper standards, I offered this equation for the reality check –

Minus    Transparency
Minus    Accountability

My previous articles have been focused on the gaps in the available information on the current proposals for the large-scale Tobago Sandals/Beaches resort,. This article will examine those proposals from the other perspective, by listing the facts which we do know.

Read full articleProperty Matters – Sandals Splinters

Sandals MoU? Part III

Citizen Advocate Afra Raymond continues his piercing examination of the Sandals transaction – David, blogmaster

The previous article delved into the published information on the three existing State-owned hotels and juxtaposed that with the proposals for a Tobago Sandals. Apart from the unsatisfactory position with the State’s existing hotel investments and the reluctance to give details, I also updated readers on the missing MoU for the Tobago Sandals project.

My dismal readings were based on the very limited publicly-available information, nothing else. I did not refer to any rumours or ‘inside information‘, my work is all based on the published record. The PM and his colleagues surely have ready access to a better quality and quantity of information than the public. That being the case, it begs the question as to what is really happening here.

If indeed, the Sandals project has significant upsides and benefits, those ought to have been estimated and shared by now. If the existing State-owned hotels are doing well, why aren’t the management agreements or accounts published? If those hotels are doing poorly, why are we persisting with that same model?

We need a proper examination of those existing hotels so that the Sandals negotiations can take place on the basis of sound information. That is all I am saying.

“In fact, she told a gathering of industry stakeholders…that what it had essentially done was to create three classes of hoteliers in the country.

“Those like Sandals that get everything without consultation, . . . those who have to come to the Ministry of Tourism…which is nonsense, and then those who don’t even get anywhere near the Ministry of Tourism…and as a result therefore they are precluded from being a beneficiary of any of those concessions,”…

Read full article – HERE

Sandals MoU? Part II


Sandals/Beaches Tobago Hotel Pads Bubble Diagram – Source:

The following entry by Citizen Advocate Afra Raymond should be of interest to civic minded Barbadians and in particular the BU family. He continues to prosecute the pillar issues which underpin the arrangement supporting the introduction of Butch Stewart’s Sandals to Trinidad and Tobago. In Barbados the models being used to promote the Hyatt and Hilton projects are not dissimilar.

What are the pillar issues?

  • Governance
    • Integrity
    • Transparency

The price citizens must pay to ensure our democracy is eternal vigilance.

  • David, blogmaster

The previous article updated readers on my attempts to obtain the Sandals Memorandum of Understanding for the proposed high-end, large-scale resort development in Tobago. That proposed development is said to be a significant part of our country’s diversification efforts so it requires our sober attention if we are to understand what is at stake.

The model for this project is one in which the State either pays for or guarantees the financing of the new resort. The State would pay for the cost of design, financing, construction, fitting and furnishing of the new resort, all to the standards set by Sandals. The completed resort will then be operated by Sandals under a management agreement. T&T is unique in the Caribbean in that our largest hotels were funded by Public Money with the operators working via Management Agreements.

Read full text of Afra’s prosecution of the Sandals matter in TrinidadSandals MoU II

Sandals MoU?

Social advocate Afra Raymond continues his work by calling for transparency with the agreement between Sandals and the Trinidad and Tobago government. The Butch Stewart company also featured in the Barbados newsfeed this week when newly elected Prime Minister Mia Mottley signaled that she will be meeting with Stewart soon to discuss  the expectation of her government.

-David – Barbados Underground

This is a continuation of my 8 March 2018 article on the Sandals MoU. That MoU was declared as no secret by our PM to the Parliament on 12 October 2017 and that was confirmed by the then CEO of the Sandals group, Adam Stewart, as reported on 27 February 2018 in the T&T press.

My 27 February 2018 request for that MoU under the Freedom of Information Act (embedded below) was therefore made against that background of both parties’ declaration that there was no secret. The Office of the Prime Minister responded on 22 March 2018 to refuse my request, citing that the MoU contained a confidentiality clause which prevented its disclosure at this time. I have since written to the OPM to request a reply in conformity with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act – I am still awaiting a reply to that letter.

I have now written to Mr Adam Stewart of Sandals Resorts International to request from him a copy of the MoU. (See below)

Read full Afra Rayon article – Sandals MOU

Sandals and Secret Deals with Caribbean Governments Continue …

Father and son Butch and Adam Stewart

The same concerns many Barbadians have voiced at the lack of transparency by government with the Sandals Butch Stewart deal is also playing out in Trinidad & Tobago. Unlike Barbados, Freedom of Information legislation is on the statute books of Trinidad and therefore affords citizens like Afra Raymond the avenue to request information deem to be in the public interest.

It is no secret Sandals Butch Stewart deals have been ‘questioned’ across the Caribbean  and of recent Prime Minister Gaston Browne has expressed public outrage at the dictatorial attitude being expressed by Sandals Stewart in Antigua towards his government. We are not in a position to establish if Sandals and Butch Stewart have been involved in nefarious behaviour when dealing with governments across the Caribbean. What we know is that citizens have a right to demand transparency in government especially as it relates to how said decisions effect the public purse.

We recommend the reading below which details the journey by citizen advocate Afra Raymond in T&T as it relates to exposing the MOU with Sandals.

-David,  BU blogmaster


The Tobago Sandals mega-project has returned to the headlines with recent interviews of Sandals Resorts’ CEO, Adam Stewart, in Barbados and Stuart Young, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Stewart’s statements were widely reported in the local press (see Addendum 1 below) with an emphasis on the lack of secrecy in the entire arrangement and the fact that discussions were still at a preliminary stage. Minister Young’s CNC3 interview on Wednesday 28 February 2018 (below) was also notable for his insistence that there was no secrecy or any reluctance to engage with the public on this mega-project.

Butch Stewart and Parasites

Submitted by Crusoe

Sandals Butch Stewart

The Barbados Today digital newspaper has reported that Butch Stewart stated that Barbadians are too entitled.

This is a remarkable statement from a hotel magnate whose company has received forty years of tax free concessions from Government, when small hoteliers get nothing.

Entitled much?

For a government to maintain services, it must seek revenues. By allowing one company to be exempt of all taxation, much revenue for services is lost.

Is the problem lost revenue, or excess services? Many countries, especially in Europe, provide excellent social services and are able to function well.

The problem is not the social services.

As for Stewart’s own operations, at a time when Barbados is in urgent need of foreign exchange injections, can we ask whether room revenue from international sources, all of it, is banked in Barbados? Many companies, through their corporate structure and international banking arrangements, have revenues banked in say, Panama, sending only funds for operating expenses to the location of the operations.

Therefore, significant foreign exchange flow loss results, for the source of operations.

One wonders what is the process for Stewart’s operations? Are your revenues all banked in Barbados, Mr. Stewart?

This revenue business is all the more critical, when international jurisdictions such as Canada are penalizing companies for sending operations cashflows out of foreign jurisdictions.

Are we adhering to international standards, by allowing those companies that profit from Barbados’s economy, to do so?

Barbados’ Environmental Double Standards

Submitted by Mohammed Degia (Originally posted to Extranewsfeed)

Photo credit:

Senator Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, addressed the UN earlier tonight at its annual General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. This was her 8th time speaking at the UNGA and tonight’s speech was the standard repetitive language one has come to expect from the Minister. It therefore came as no surprise, particularly with the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, that she would mention climate change and the environment.

Ms. McClean delved straight into it, referring to UNGA speeches by Prime Ministers Thompson and Stuart, in 2008 and 2015 respectively, where they warned about the seriousness of the climate change threat and the pressing need for strong action. She noted similar admonitions from other leaders of small island nations and lamented that what we were seeing happening in the region was because “this clarion call from the Caribbean was ignored.” Ms. McClean reaffirmed Barbados’ commitment “to ambitious action on climate change and contended that its “support for global climate change action is a component of its overall policy of promoting and protecting the environment.”

The Minister also spoke about Barbados’ people-centred and inclusive development and the need for the international community to take action to implement the commitments made by all countries in the SAMOA Pathway, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

A few weeks ago, I read a GIS press release which informed that Mr. Denis Kellman, Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development, had attended a UN High Level Meeting on The Effective Implementation of the New Urban Agenda in New York and delivered a speech. According to the press release, Mr. Kellman told the meeting that Barbados had put measures in place “including amendments to the Physical Development Plan to ensure that development on the island continued to be progressive, orderly and sustainable”. He also said that “Government encouraged developers to locate housing for seniors close to amenities and services to meet daily needs, promoted the development of new housing which was fully accessible to people with disabilities, and continued to require that new developments and significant renovations in public spaces be accessible to all.” Finally, he threw in the usual jargon about green economy, renewable energy and environmentally-sound waste management and all of their concomitant socio-economic benefits.

The drastic difference between the claims of Ministers McClean and Kellman and the reality in Barbados is such that one wonders if they are speaking of the same country. They both convey the impression of an island in which development benefits everyone and safeguards the environment. I wonder then how do they explain the wilful lack of a comprehensive set of environmental laws in Barbados and the almost non-existent implementation of the few laws that are there. How do they account for the long list of environmental desecration under both political parties that are manifestations of the total opposite of what he told the UN?

Environmental destruction caused by Sandals

How do they rationalise the decision to build a Hyatt right next to one of Barbados’ most beautiful beaches, Browne’s Beach, and the absolute lack of transparency in the entire approval process? What about the chaotic monstrosity that is now Warrens? Are Coverly, Grotto and the South Coast sewage fiasco examples of this progressive, orderly sustainable development? What about Sandals and their decimation of the environment in the area of their resort? The same Sandals that their government has with much secrecy provided massive incentives to at the expense of Barbadian taxpayers. What about Four Seasons and the overnight destruction of trees some years ago? What about Greenland and Cahill? What about the relentless concretisation of much of Barbados at the behest of both parties? Or the fact that much of the coast has been decimated by tourism based infrastructure and one can drive on large parts of the South and West coast of the island without knowing that one is next to the water. That much of the flooding in Barbados is as a result of our insistence on building in a way that destroys natural water courses and a fragile ecosystem. That this is further exacerbated by the Bajan addiction to littering and dumping, especially in gullies. Or that successive government have barely attempted to tackle the dumping problem despite repeated statements every few years about some type of strong action that will supposedly be taken. What about the elephant in the room? The fact that the entire maritime delimitation exercise with Trinidad and Tobago had nothing to do with fishing. That both administrations are dedicated to offshore drilling in the hope that Barbados can “diversify” its economy with oil. The two obstacles to realising this have been finding a willing partner and their own inefficiency, one of the only times government ineptitude can be said to be something positive. The environment doesn’t factor in when there is a thirst for oil! And I could go on listing for pages.

Environmental destruction caused by Four Seasons. Photo from

The two Ministers though are not alone in what they communicate to the international community contradicting what actually occurs at home. Over the years, different Ministers, irrespective of party, as well as government officials have ventured on the international stage and waxed lyrical about sustainable development, climate change and the environment. I used to be one of these government officials, both speaking myself and writing some of the speeches for Ministers. We have talked about our commitment to sustainable development, our vulnerability and the need for the international community to do more to help us including financially. We have championed ourselves as the grandfather of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and a voice for climate action. Yet, at home, we engage perversely in destructive environmental practices. The assertions about Barbados’ devotion to environmental protection are therefore far-fetched. This may be discomforting to hear for those who have bought the story of Barbados and SIDS but it is the truth.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Implications for Barbados If Sandals is Sold

Adrian Loveridge

Originally carried as an ‘Exclusive’ by Reuters on Wednesday 10th May 2017 under the banner headline Caribbean resort operator Sandals explores sale it took barely hours to spread throughout the travel trade and public media.

According to Reuters Sandals Resorts International have hired investment bank, Deutsche Bank AG (DBKgn.DE) ‘to explore several options, including a sale of a majority stake in the company, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential’. Adding, ‘the valuation of the company could not be learned, but the sources said it could be worth well over US$1 billion, including debt’. As Sandals Resort International and its various associated and subsidiary companies are currently privately held, there is of course no legal obligation to publish actual trading accounts or anything to indicate valuation.

My first question when  heard the news was: in the case of Sandals Barbados, what would happen to the unilateral and unique 40 year tax concessions that this organisation obtained if a sale took place? Would any new owner inherit them, in which case then it would further push down the hill any attempt by the entire remaining tourism industry on Barbados to play catch-up?

Sadly, the vast majority of Barbadian taxpayers has absolutely no idea of the full extent of the concessions and exactly who they were granted to because two holding company’s CPH Property Holdings (CAIPO company registration number 37515) and Grand Cass Management (CAIPO company registration number 37513) were mentioned in the original Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

There is also widespread speculation about who is the beneficial owner of the land that the two local Sandals are constructed on and again the taxpayer is completely in the dark over this element as well. If there is any increased value of the land would it be passed on to a new owner largely based on the benefits gleaned from the extraordinary concessions, would this be fair and reasonable?

Was there any provision in the MOU signed by Government to allow for this scenario and if not, why?

The Jamaica Gleaner reported a day later in a one-paragraph statement neither confirmed or denied whether Sandals founder, chairman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart is exploring a potential sale of the ‘hotel management company’.

‘CEO of Sandals Resorts, Adam Stewart, son of the founder, did not respond to messages regarding the (Reuters) report, while spokesman Stephen Hector requested time to respond’.

The next question we should all be asking, could any possible sale delay or nullify plans to build the proposed Beaches Resort on the former Almond, Heywoods resort?

Has Sandals or the actual beneficial owner already paid Government for this property? What provision has been put in place just in case the construction and resort opening does not take place because this has been heralded by the current administration as an integral part of economic recovery and job creation?

And the reason I raise this question again, if Government or another party has received full payment, why would a separate private company be leasing and operating part of the hotel?

One thing for sure, the travel industry does not thrive on uncertainty and unknowns and almost always it has a severe and immediate effect on forward bookings.

Clarity is needed.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Level Playing Field Required to Encourage Greater Sector Investment

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

Sometimes it is fascinating how numbers can be used to create what at best is a false impression and at worse what can simply be described as ‘fake news’.

In one media report a Government spokesperson is boasting of the increase one property on the South coast has made to recent arrival numbers. The fact that seems to be lost is that this hotel currently has just 280 rooms, the exact same number that both of the previous operators managed. Even achieving at year round average occupancy level of 85 per cent that remains a maximum of 25,636 guests based on two persons per room and an overall 7 night stay, whoever is operating the hotel.

To achieve this re-branding, Government extended extraordinary unilateral tax concessions previously unknown on Barbados and despite all the rhetoric these are still not available in the identical format to any other organisation, anywhere!

Yes when additional rooms under construction are completed and online ready for occupation, this could and probably will make a positive difference to arrival numbers and attracting additional airlift.

Then go to another section of the media and, if the reporting is accurate, where on a recent visit by the Public Policy Head in Latin America and the Caribbean for Airbnb, Shawn Sullivan, stated that that company accommodated some ‘16,000 visitors’ on Barbados last year which represented around 2 per cent of all long stay arrivals. He also said that there were around ‘1,100 Barbadian homeowners’ Airnb host properties on Barbados, so it is logical to conclude that this amounts to far more actual rooms than the single property previously mentioned.

So what is the difference? Well first of all the taxpayer and I suspect our current administration is not privy to the audited accounts of the branded south coast hotel and has no idea what proportion of its revenue actually comes to Barbados at all. As the vast majority of its consumables are imported free of taxes and duties, this again is an unknown local benefit.

To be fair Government also has little or no evidence of the net financial contribution that the eleven hundred plus Airbnb lodging options make to the economy, but there is a massive disparity.

Almost without exception the Airbnb properties would not have benefitted from any tax concessions due to the scale of their average size and number of rooms. This makes most, if not all of them in-eligible for duty free local or imported items necessary for their operation.

Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that more of the Airbnb earnings are spent locally and that Government obtains and retains a higher level of fiscal benefit in proportion to their turnover.

As a three decade operator of a small hotel, I am not advocating for a millisecond that Airbnb and similar accommodation offerings are given the same unique preferential concessions as granted to the single hotel in Christ Church.

But if there is ever going to be anything close to a level playing field to encourage greater sector investment, so that we as a country can maximise our tourism earning potential, this situation has to be addressed.

Top Brands – Sam Lord’s Castle and Sandals

Submitted by Anthony Davis
Sam Lord's Castle before

Sam Lord’s Castle before

I am totally against the sale of Sam Lord’s Castle to the Sandals Group, or any other foreigner or foreign entity. Sam Lord’s Castle is part of the built heritage of Barbados, and I am very disappointed about the deafening silence coming from Dr. Karl Watson and Professor Henry Frazer about the pending sale of this property to anyone other than a Barbadian or Barbadian group!

Sam Lord’s Castle is a wonderful property, and could be turned into something like Farley Hill National Park – for one and all, not only the upper 10,000 and especially the bigoted. The buildings formerly used as rooms by the tourists could be used by young entrepreneurs to display their ware. Europeans love visiting castles, and some have said that it’s a shame to leave it as it is, instead of rebuilding it and letting people visit it. hey would like to see it returned to its former glory.

Barbadians should wake up and smell the coffee or whatever they feel like smelling, and start protesting about the wholesale auctioning off of our heritage. It is our heritage – not this Government’s.

Continue reading

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.

Taking a Closer Look at Government’s Decision to Invest in Hotel Plant

Adrian Loveridge - Hotelier

Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier

When Government completes the acquisition of the former Almond Beach Village and Silver Sands Resort, it will become the single largest hotel owner on Barbados by far. In fact owning more than double the number of rooms than any private sector company does. Hilton (354), Almond Beach Village (ABV) (396), Silver Sands (130), Blue Horizon (120) including almost 50 abandoned rooms that were never upgraded under the GEMS project,Hotel PomMarine (21)

Still to be explained is whether the purchase of Casuarina (280) will be funded by Sandals companies, using their own money.  Even without Casuarina, already that’s over 1,000 rooms! This number could climb to over 1,500 when ABV is demolished and rebuilt. All acquired and/or built with subsidised taxpayer monies. Only time will tell if it is either desirable or healthy for any Government to own more than one in five of the entire hotel room stock in a tourism dependent nation.

I cannot think of a similar precedent in any other Caribbean country and if our policymakers are suggesting ‘Government should consider owning more hotels’, can they point to this model working anywhere else?

Continue reading

Donville Inniss Says UWI Tuition Fees Must Stay

Submitted by Anthony Davis
Donville Inniss - Minister of Commerce, and International Business

Donville Inniss – Minister of Commerce, and International Business

“The Freundel Stuart administration says it is sticking to its guns to make Barbadian students at the University of the West Indies start pulling their pockets for tuition fees from next year even though welcoming a new private sector fund to bail out those who cannot afford to pay…The firm position was taken today by Minister of Commerce, and International Business, Donville Inniss, while launching a new charity known as Global Education Scholastic Trust…Inniss said the Government had done the right thing in the circumstances of the economic climate, and would carry through with it…It is not easy for me as a politician that would have taken in recent debates to reduce fees at UWI with effect from 2014, but it is one of those things we felt we had to do, and we stand by that decision.”

What else can one expect from an uncaring Government, whose scions – and probably their scions’ scions – have had a free education at the UWI Cave Hill Campus? The motto of this Government is now “after me the deluge”! Is this the same Government that Minister Blackett called people-centred? I guess he means centred around the 16 DLP Government MPs, but night runs till day catches it!

Minister Inniss can spare us his crocodile tears!

You do not have money for our students at UWI Cave Hill, nor for the QEH, but you have millions of dollars in waivers – including one for food and beverage which no hotel has had before – to throw at a multi-millionaire named “Butch” Stewart, although he took over a hotel here and promised to develop and refurbish it so that Barbadians could get work, but absconded leaving it to moulder and the iron in it to rust! This left those who had hopes of getting a job there up the creek without a paddle! “Is that “the right thing in the circumstances of the economic climate”, Minister Inniss?

Continue reading

DLP: Bajans Not Good Enough – Neither Can They Reach Jamaicans High Standards – Work Permits Therefore Necessary

Henderson Bovell

Henderson Bovell

You can excuse the DLP if it did not care to read the ‘National Strategic Plan 2005-2025. But Goal #6 of that document speaks, in part, to: “Branding Barbados Globally.” When you read it, you begin to understand why the demise of a Barbadian brand like Almond, is a national scandal. I suppose the same can be said about the DLP’ reluctance to spend a puny US$500,000 to save a $80m Rum Industry, which will result in “a-310-year-old-company” leaving Barbadian hands for the first time in its history.

Of all people, the BLP, which is responsible for the “National Strategic Plan Document,” should understand that the issue of “Sandals” – is more than the quantum of concessions or what is contained in some MOU, especially since the same National Strategic Plan sought “to continue consolidating the country’s international image, particularly on account of political stability, educational quality, democratic governance and good leadership.”

I do not know that the present Barbados Cabinet and Government – are showing good leadership on tourism right now” because “Almond” is a Barbadian-home-grown-international-families-brand,” which was on par (in the view of many) with Sandals, which is nothing more than a Jamaican home-grown-international-families-brand. That makes Ralph Taylor, the equivalent of the Jamaican Butch Stewart.

Continue reading

Of Sandals and Scandals

Submitted by Douglas
Sandals Barbados

Sandals Barbados

Finally, after many years of trying, Barbados’ tourism product will have the Sandals brand attached to it. Not just one but two properties; Sandals Couples at Casuarina and soon to come, Sandals Beaches at Heywoods. This year at the World Travel Awards’ 20th Caribbean and North American Gala, Sandals Resorts International won for the 20th consecutive time the title of the “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand.” Imagine the benefits that the Barbados tourism product will derive from having the Sandals brand marketing and selling Barbados.

Internationally, the news of the opening of Sandals Couples at Casuarina and the planned opening of Sandals Beaches have not gone unnoticed but it is creating a positive stir in the travel markets. In fact, it is projected that the country will benefit from increased airlift from the UK with the opening of Sandals in Barbados. A check of the website for Sandals resorts Barbados would reveal that since accepting its first guest on November 6, 2013 the 280 room hotel is fully booked up to March 2014. This indeed is positive news for Barbados. There are also plans to quickly increase the number of restaurants at the hotel from 3 to possibly 9. Do I hear, “employment opportunities”?

This is certainly a sign that something positive is happening in Barbados. Our tourism industry has just been given a tremendous jolt that would no doubt result in growth in the sector.

Ministerial Statement (Minister of Tourism)

Continue reading

Minister Richard Sealy is a Pedigree JA

Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy

Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy

To bloggers who listened to the radio clip (compliments of VOB) today which featured Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy defending governments washpan of concessions to CPH Property Holdings (Barbados) Limited and Grande Cass Management (Barbados) Limited together known as SANDALS – see Government’s Concessions to SANDALS Barbados, they would have been offended. He made reference to the front page of the Nation newspaper which carried a a story highly critical of the concessions given to Butch Stewart’s companies. And here is what some bloggers may deem to be offensive, he stated he expected what the Nation published to be posted on the blogs or discussed under a tamarind tree.

Minister Sealy is free to have his opinion afterall we boast of living in a democracy. However, when he feels bold enough to disparage what we do on the blogs, he invites a response from BU albeit a reluctant one.

Minister Sealy should bear in mind that BU is used prolifically by his colleagues to disseminate information which the traditional media is not geared to facilitate. Have we not had the pleasure of Minister Donville Inniss venturing into this forum to interact with BU bloggers when he sought to defend his choice of Kingsland as a possible location for a new hospital? Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner has posted to BU on several occasions. BU will not mention all the DLP politicos who post to BU using monikers. What does he make of his colleagues who post and read BU? Perhaps one day BU will be persuaded to post some of the comments posted to BU by the late Prime Minister David Thompson.

Continue reading

Sandals Almond Chronology II

Submitted by Due Diligence
Lee Issa, Chairman of the House of Issa

Lee Issa, Chairman of the House of Issa

In July 2012 ARI/N&M sold Almond Beach Club, to Fairweather Holding Co., which operates Elite Island Resorts  for $33 million, the proceeds of which was used to pay down bank debt that had been incurred to keep ARI afloat.

It is not clear who owns/controls Fairweather/Elite, January 4, 2013, the Jamaica Gleaner reports that Couples is finalizing negotiations to purchase Casuarina.

“Couples Resorts is finalising a deal to acquire a hotel in Barbados, making it the first Jamaican resort group to venture into that market. It’s also Couples’ first venture outside of its home market. Couples chief executive officer, Glenn Lawrence, confirmed plans on Wednesday to purchase the 280-room Almond Casuarina Beach (ACB) Club in the eastern Caribbean island. “We are involved in firm negotiations,” said Lawrence, adding that the deal was expected to conclude on or before January 31, at which time more details would be forthcoming.”

For undisclosed reasons, Couples did not purchase the property; but January 29, 2013, announced it had agreed to manage Casuarina (it turns out) under a lease.

In an article in the Trinidad Guardian about N&M dated May 22, 2013, included The group continues to unwind its hotel properties. The Jamaican-based Couples Hotels have leased Almond Casuarina Beach; the lessee has an option either to acquire the hotel by September 30, 2013, or enter into a long-term lease arrangement.

Continue reading

Sandals Almond Chronology

Hotel mogul Butch Stewart

Hotel mogul Butch Stewart

The Barbados government recently announced that it has signed an MOU with Butch Stewart’s Sandals to manage the former Almond Beach Village property.  BU family member Due Diligence has submitted the following research to inform debate.

Neal and Massey buys control of BS&T in 2008, and by 2012 has acquired all the shares of BS&T; and in May 2012 had the shares BS&T delisted.

“Neal and Massy Holdings Ltd’s (N&M) request to have its Barbados Shipping & Trading Company Ltd (BS&T) delisted from the T&T Stock Exchange (TTSE) was made as a result of the T&T-based conglomerate acquiring all 100 per cent of its shares. So said Gervase Warner, chief executive officer, N&M Group. “Last September we made an offer to the BS&T shareholders for the rest of the outstanding shares, and now that BS&T is 100 per cent owned by Neal and Massy, it becomes a subsidiary of Neal and Massy. “Now that we acquired all of the outstanding shares of BS&T…there was no opportunity for anyone to trade shares anymore.” BS&T’s delisting means change, Warner said. “What you can expect is that Neal and Massy would be a little more prominent in Barbados than it has been in the past. We will continue to respect the fact that BS&T has a long history and heritage in Barbados. “It is 100 per cent-owned by Neal and Massy, the parent company, there are no organisational changes above and beyond what we have already done.”

Continue reading

Following Grenada’s Business Facilitation Script

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Prime Minister of Grenada, the Hon. Tillman Thomas recently described the purchase of the former La Source by Sandals as ‘a potential game-changer for our tourism industry’. He went on to say, the entry of resort company Sandals to Grenada’s market is ‘a tide that could lift all boats’. I think he is right, perhaps in more ways that we can initially anticipate. What is remarkable about this ‘deal’ is the timing, which must make it at least a candidate for the quickest hotel acquisition ever in the Guinness Book of Records.

It was reported that La Source only closed around the 19th October, when 150 workers were laid-off. Yet, within three weeks the Government of Grenada ‘facilitated their (Sandals) investment with a package of incentives’. While other administrations around the region hesitated, procrastinated and some may even imply, might have adopted a form of hibernation akin to prolonged sleep. Perhaps galvanized by the negative consequences of revenue and employment losses and the danger of possibly losing airlift, someone picked up the phone and made the move.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading