One of the few existing Barbadian tourism properties contemplating a multi-million dollar remake has had its hopes of a start this summer dashed.
Settlers Beach, a villa hotel built in the 1960s, has failed to get approval from the Town & Country Development Planning Office in time and will now have to postpone reconstruction plans at least into this time next year, Barbados TODAY understands.
Informed sources said the Holetown, St. James business currently had accommodation of 22 two-bedroom villas, but that the plan was to turn this into a modern 12 unit luxury four bedroom villa development.
As a result of the wait for Town Planning approval, the company is to open to business next month for the winter season after ending its three months of summer bookings two days ago.
Settlers is owned and operated by the O’Hara family, which built it and which also owns neighbouring hotels Coral Reef Club and The Sandpiper.
An official told Barbados TODAY that Settlers’ regular guests were notified earlier this year of the plan to reopen and the reason for the postponed work in a message from General Manager Vanessa Sumpter.
“To all our valued long standing clients, new and yet to come, I am excited to announce that we will reopen for another season,” she said in that communication.
“As some of you are aware we were to start major development of the hotel … this summer… Due to the delay in Town Planning approval we are able to stay open for another season.
“Settlers Beach had a wonderful season 2012 and are looking forward to sharing time with you all again for 2013. We will operate with reduced services in the Summer between 1st May to 31st August 2013 and offer a special rate during this time… The Hotel will return to full services on 18th October 2013 and operate until 27th April 2014,” the manager had said.
With its major work push back, the hotel will be doing general maintenance in the period leading up to the winter season.
In addition to the reduce business from major source markets, authorities have blamed the island’s tourism decline on several factors, including the closure of several hotels, and on the “tired” existing room stock.
Hotel companies have said finding funding to do such work in a depressed market and overall economic recession has been virtually impossible.
In his Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals last month, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced that the $50 million Hotel Refurbishment Fund he spoke of last year was “now ready to receive applications from registered tourism accommodation establishments”.
He said the fund was “being implemented through an expansion of the Industrial Credit Fund and Credit Guarantee Schemes administered by the Central Bank of Barbados”.
Tourism businesses qualifying for funding under this scheme will receive up to 90 per cent of the requested loan amount, and the minister also pointed out that “the Credit Guarantee Scheme provides commercial banks and other credit institutions protection against losses arising from the failure of eligible entities to repay their loans”.
He also explained that the National Insurance Scheme “will assist with the financing of the expansion of the Industrial Credit Fund by periodically depositing surplus funds at reasonable rates of interest with the Fund”. (SC)