Government has started the process of selecting the hotel brand that will operate the reconstructed Sam Lord’s Castle in St Philip, with the top brass from the first of the hotel chains today getting a first hand look at the potential investment.
While their arrival was not publicized, Barbados TODAY was on the scene when senior officials from the undisclosed American hotel brand took a tour of the sprawling property.
The group was led by Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Investment Incorporated (BTII) Stuart Layne.
He emphasized that no final decision had been taken on which brand would be in charge of the property once the $200 million transformation was complete.
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has said that three hotel brands have already indicated they want a shot at running the facility, which should be ready for its first guests by 2018.
Layne told Barbados TODAY that Government officials intend to meet with other hotel brands.
“We expect to be able to make an announcement in due course. We can’t say much more because we are going to have discussions with a number of brands and make the best selection in the interest of the country,” he said.
The BTII CEO explained that while the plan was for a brand to be chosen to manage the property, Government was still open to other additional arrangements.
“One of the objectives we have set for ourselves is year-round business and therefore . . . we are no longer looking to just have a product that will be guaranteed to generate winter business. What we really want to do is have year-round business,” he pointed out.
“And, therefore, Sam Lord’s will be rebuilt as a summer product and also be sold in the winter. So the brands obviously have certain assets that they will bring to bear on the project and we expect a really positive outcome,” Layne added.
Construction is expected to begin in June or July next year.
Meantime, the real estate company that manages seven of the 10 rental cottages adjacent to Sam Lord’s Castle is also pinning some of its hopes for improved business on the rebirth of the historic property.
Director of Ronald Stoute and Sons Limited, Francis Stoute, said business was slow – a situation he attributed to the closure of the hotel, the lack of attractions in the area and the downturn in the local economy.
“We are being competitive . . . but we find it’s been slow for us,” he said. “But we look forward to the new hotel and hope that all will go well and it will be on stream in another three or four years.”
Stoute expressed concern, however, that in the meantime, the Sam Lord’s Castle property had become a dumping ground and a fire hazard, especially in the dry season.
“People carry their garden cuttings and whatever else up there and dump them . . . and during the dry season you always get fires. They come pretty close to these villas down here, so we have to be very attentive to that situation,” he said.
“It is dangerous; we’ve got to be careful.”
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