Royal Westmoreland, a Barbados landmark, is up for sale on the international market but the local tourism industry isn’t worried as this may result merely in a changing of hands.
Prime luxury international real estate dealers and financial publications today began announcing that British owner, John Morphet, wants to part with the 750-acre west coast property for US$75 million.
“It has been known for some time that there was a possibility of Royal Westmoreland being put up for sale. Now this is obviously what has happened,” Executive Vice-President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Sue Springer, told Barbados TODAY.
Morphet’s reported reason for giving up ownership of this property that annually attracts the likes of British Premier League football star, Wayne Rooney, and retired English cricket captain, Michael Vaughn, was that now in his 60s, he feels to be getting on too much in age that tires him after 96 visits to this island in 10 years.
“I’m not getting any younger and it needs more time than I’d like to give it,” he said of the spread that includes 225 villas, a clubhouse, restaurant, spa, and a golf course.
“It is an incredible real estate property and we look forward [and are] hoping that whoever purchases this whole estate will keep it in its current use and won’t change it,” Springer said.
The Financial Times quoted Chief Executive of Sotheby’s International, Robin Paterson, as saying it was “very unusual to get an entire resort for sale” in the Barbados market.
“This is the only resort of this scale, reputation and longevity in the southern Caribbean,” Paterson added.
Springer does not see the announced sale having any negative impact on the image of Barbados tourism. “No, I don’t think so because things could be for sale at any time; it could be a hotel, it could be an estate like this, whatever. Things change hands the world over all the time.
“It sends that message because the gentleman that owns it has accepted that he is at the crossroads and he wants to stay closer to home.”
Morphet, who has a rags to riches story, having taken over a struggling UK farm from his parents, had last year indicated plans to purchase land from the Westmoreland estate to build an additional 200 properties. That planned investment was reportedly to the tune of US$500.
These plans may not be derailed by a change in ownership because the Barbados real estate market is now being seen as an investment opportunity on the rise.
The Sotheby’s chief executive reportedly told the Financial Times that the Barbados market is beginning to see an inflow of international professional property investors such as hotel operators.
Springer agrees with that assessment, and believes the announced sale speaks well for the property market.