With officials projecting that the new Beaches property could be up amd running in another two to three years after refurbishment, the man who is leading the development –– Jamaican hotel magnate Gordon “Butch” Stewart –– is not hiding his excitement about having sealed a deal, and finally being back in the country.
Stewart’s last investment dalliance with Barbados was fraught with difficulty and ended in a pull-out from the island back in 1992 after his purchase of the 30-acre Paradise Beach property was hit by legal and other wranglings, and never got off the ground.
By his own admission, Sandals was not as mature a brand as it is right now and the market had proved to be a lot less friendly to Sandals.
“We are over the moon; we cant wait to start working in Barbados again,” Stewart told Barbados TODAY in an exclusive interview. “The hospitality is exceptional; everything about the country is beautiful as ever and more beautiful,” he said.
Recalling his experience with the island 21 years ago, the Jamaican businessman said: “That was years ago when we were still practising.
“We were a much younger organization. I think it is accepted that we are the company driving Caribbean tourism these days, and we are just very, very happy to be back in Barbados,” he said.
The Almond Beach Village in St Peter has been on the selling block since last April when its Trinidadian owners Neal & Massy announced the closure of the expansive beachfront property.
Stewart, whose group recently acquired a property in Grenada, said there would be need for significant refurbishment work.
“I am [comfortable]. I think it is a good hotel. It is not a Sandals. We will have to Sandalise it and we just see that as an evolving process of upgrading, etcetera; but it is all good. More importantly, we are back in Barbados,” he said.
Stewart company is also taking over the Almond Casuarina hotel in Dover, Christ Church.
As to the current highly charged political climate in the country, Stewart responded: “We are lovers. We love everybody. We are not politicians.” (KJ)