JAMAICA’S BUTCH STEWART PICKS ALMOND IN BARBADOS
NEW YORK (April 12, 2012) – Caribbean tourism czar, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, is shining his suit of armor and readying his steed to ride in as the White Knight to rescue a resort in distress.
At risk is the luxury beach-side Almond Beach Village resort in Barbados facing imminent closure. Once spared, Stewart plans to clean up the property, pump in some money and launch a new resort on the island.
The Jamaican businessman and chairman of Sandals International is moving to acquire the Trinidad and Tobago-owned Almond resort – which closes at month-end – following a failed attempt many years ago to develop the old Paradise resort on the island, now the future home of a Four Seasons.
In an interview with the Nation newspaper in Barbados, Stewart indicated a number of technical experts have already visited the island and the evaluation process about the prospects of “Sandalizing the property” was in train. He tantalized reporters by hinting his family-oriented brand, Beaches, would be more suitable for Barbados.
“I think Barbados for us is a void, and I think Sandals would do a lot of good for Barbados. I think Barbados would (also) do a lot for Sandals,” said Stewart, adding “it is time to go back to Barbados and try to make the best of it.”
Barbados, like other Sandals destinations, is expected to significantly benefit from the Sandals/ Beaches brand, given the huge sums of marketing resources it spends to maintain close to full annual occupancies.
The plan to dispose of the Neal and Massy Holdings-owned Almond Resorts has been on the cards for several months, and the Beach Village property is being closed immediately due to “the deteriorating quality of the product”, officials report.
Neal and Massy has already successfully disposed of Almond Morgan Bay in St. Lucia, and retains interest in an additional two Almond properties in Barbados – Almond Beach Club in St. James and Almond Casuarina Beach in Christ Church.
According to press reports in Trinidad, Almond is buckling under millions of dollars in accumulated, bad and in related-party debt.
Meanwhile, Sandals Resorts has inked an agreement with the Trinidad and Tobago-based Toute Bagai Publishing Company (TBP) to publish a third edition of the award-winning “Sandals Style” magazine which was launched in 2010 by TBP.
TBP Managing Director, Neysha Soodeen, said the contract extension is “a significant vote of confidence, endorsing her company’s continuous efforts in production excellence. Sandals expects nothing but perfection from their suppliers, so we were happy when Sandals expressed an interest for us to continue to produce and publish their official, in-room magazine.”
The “Sandals Style” magazine, a complimentary feature of every room and suite at Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts in five Caribbean islands, reaches more one million visitors to the region and is also mailed directly to Sandals Select members ahead of their visits to the Caribbean.