The pending sale of the 400 room Almond Beach Village in St. Peter, closed since April last year, may be close to a conclusion at least by June.
Thomas Pantin, Chairman of the Retail Line of Business at Neal and Massy Group, owners of the property, said this afternoon that there would be confirmation of a new development with respect to the sale of the resort, in another two months. Pantin was speaking at the end of the launch of the DaCosta Mannings Classic Card, which can now be used at all Super Centre stores.†The executive suggested that one should not expect a transaction to be completed at this stage, because the parent company was still evaluating the various bids from potential purchasers such as the Government and the Crane Resort.
He made it clear that because of the large size of the Almond property, a lot of detail had to be worked out, bearing in mind the interests of the shareholders at the end of the day.
The chairman also acknowledged that this hotel was a major benefit to the local tourism industry and to the Barbados economy as a whole. Neal & Massy revealed in its 2011 annual financial report that it was looking to sell its interest in the under-performing hotel chain. The group sold its Morgan Bay property in Saint Lucia at the start of the year.
“We have completed the sale of Casaurina to Couples. We are now reviewing, together with the Government and potential buyers all opportunities related to Almond Beach Village. Obviously it’s a very important property, for the country, for the tourism sector, for the tour operators and for the visitors of Barbados,” pointed out Pantin.
“That process is one in which we have to ensure that all stakeholders, including our shareholders – as you know, Almond Resorts Incorporated is a public company – that we maximise the benefits to those shareholsders.
“At the moment there are no new developments. There have been a series of articles around potential investors. Couple months ago there were articles about the Crane, Sandals has an interest; but we are not at a stage where we can complete a transaction, we’re still very much at the evaluation stage on that property,” added the Neal and Massy executive.
Pantin said he recognised that the efforts to sell Almond had been going on for a while, adding: “Almond Beach Village is a significant asset … with over 400 rooms, so large transactions require a lot of detail and a lot of careful consideration – a lot of stakeholders. So it has been a long process, it’s been a difficult process as a result of the size and magnitude.”
“I would foresee that there be confirmation of a development, further development, probably within the next two months,” he revealed.
“We know the Government is keen about pursuing something with Almond Beach Village. They have expressed their interest and their involvement is obviously one where they could consider a wider scope for the tourism sector, but really and truly at this stage, I don’t think we could even contemplate an outcome.”
He also declined to say how much money was raised from the recent auction of excess supplies, containers and vehicles owned by the hotel. Pantin explained that none of the furniture, equipment or other items within the hotel itself was touched, adding that if someone bought the property right now, they could operate it almost immediately.†He said the hotel had not been compromised by the things which were auctioned.
He also predicted an increasing partnership between Government and the private sector in trying to resolve the current economic challenges in Barbados and the rest of the region. Pantin was referring to a recent initiative by Neal and Massy where it went into Grenada to assist that country with its difficulties. He held out the possibility of a similar action being taken in Barbados. (EJ)