When the doors of Sam Lord’s Castle closed more than a decade ago, it was like the sudden death of a family member for the residents of Long Bay, Sea View and other surrounding St Philip communities.
Now, as the 58-acre property is being cleared in preparation for the construction of a new US$200 million five-star resort, many are hoping its resurrection will bring new jobs and economic activity to the once bustling environs.
Toby Sargeant, who worked at the Castle from 1982 until its closure in the maintenance department and as a taxi driver, told Barbados TODAY the once prestigious property which was a favourite vacation spot for people of all kinds, should never have been closed.
“I would be glad if it opened next week. Life was beautiful working at the Castle. You leave home on mornings broke and come home on evenings and feed your children.
“Everyone that worked at Castle in that time did well. We were able to build homes, send children abroad to university. I never felt it should have been closed,” he said.
Cherryann Quintyne, a shopkeeper of Sea View Park, fondly remembers her days at Sam Lord’s Castle where she provided private housekeeping and babysitting services.
She fully expects that the new property will significantly enhance life in her community.
“I think it would be wonderful because it would give some people who are not employed, some work. Sam Lord’s used to be a very good establishment years ago.”
Former gardener at the world-renowned property, Donville Cain, is among those who would love to work at Sam Lord’s again. He said the construction of the new hotel was the best thing to happen to St Philip.
“It is very good that the Castle will open back again. It was down for a long time and it was very good in the neighbourhood. People would love to see it open again. When the Castle was open, it was at a very good place,” Cain said.
“I grew up seeing my aunts, my sisters, everybody working there. It is very good to see things happening again in the district. I worked there four years. It was very good and it helped me to achieve things,” he added.
The new hotel, to be managed by international hotel brand Wyndham, will comprise 450 suites. On completion, it is expected to provide 1,000 jobs.
As the preparatory work got underway on Monday, Chief Executive Officer of the state-run Barbados Investment Inc, Stuart Layne, who led a site visit with other officials, declined to give an exact date for the opening of the hotel.
He would only say they were hoping to complete the job by the first half of 2018.
Two years could not come soon enoughfor Elton Grosvenor, proprietor of the Hott Spot Bar on Long Bay main road.
He said not only would it be good for his business, but for the community where many people were in dire need of jobs.
“It will be a great thing happening especially for the people in the neighbourhood. Before, the people from the Castle would come and patronize the Hott Spot Bar so I believe that will come together again. It would be a great thing; it would be nice to see it open providing jobs for members of the community. I would be glad to see it opened.”
Sam Lord’s Castle was a Georgian mansion built in 1820 by the notorious buccaneer Samuel Hall Lord, known as ‘Sam Lord’. Legend has it that Sam Lord acquired his wealth by plundering ships, which he lured onto the reefs off the coast, by hanging lanterns in the coconut trees.
It’s this rich legacy that resident Pedro Hall argued should be safeguarded.
He said the Castle’s demise 12 years ago and its subsequent destruction by fire in 2010, left a glaring hole on the national landscape.
“It’s a good piece of history being restored,” he said.