Construction of the much delayed Wyndham Grand Resort on the site of the historic Sam Lord’s Castle in St Philip is set to begin by the end of the first quarter of 2017, according to a top tourism investment official.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc (BTI) Stuart Layne today revealed that everything was being put in place for work to begin in earnest on the 450-room property.
“What we have to consider is that this is a very large project and we have had to make sure we had all our design work done and so forth, and therefore that would represent about eight weeks slippage from where we want to be. But I can assure you that come March, fairly heavy excavation will commence,” Stuart told Barbados TODAY.
“All the other works are critical to get to the point where you put structures in place. That is what we have targeted, the end of March, for physical structures to commence.”
The plans for the $200 million project on the 58-acre property were approved since 2008, with construction initially earmarked to begin towards the middle of 2015.
The project, funded through the government of China, was expected to be completed in early 2018.
However, there have been several delays – the most recent rescheduled date for commencement of work was this month.
Despite the postponements, Layne said he was happy with the progress made, including the demolition of some of the old buildings, the clearing of debris and establishment of a camp site.
The BTI boss also said a number of containers were being imported for the project and should reach Barbados by the middle of this month, and officials would soon meet with residents in the area to inform them of the plans and to help combat any expected noise and dust pollution from the construction.
However, some residents and shop operators are already looking forward to the project in anticipation of a rise in business.
Operators of Oasis Mini Mart and Canteen Shakayra Herbert and Linette Lall told Barbados TODAY they expected the construction to bring more life to the area, which should translate into increased commerce.
Herbert said locals and tourists were visiting the area and enquiring about the construction, and she was hoping the project “really does start in March”.
“I am looking forward for a good business year based on what is going to go on because I was told that a lot of C.O. Williams [Construction] workers are going to be up here. So I am preparing for the big customer base,” Herbert said.
Meantime, Lall said the business was getting a lot of support from those who were carrying out the preliminary work on the site, and another delay would be dreadful.
“We are looking forward for March now and hoping that we will not have another delay. We are depending on that,” Lall stressed.
Sylvan Grazette is a maintenance worker in the community. He told Barbados TODAY “things are a little slow” in the area but he expected a hive of activity as soon as construction begins.
“It is going to be an investment and a lot of business for a lot of people around the area,” Grazette said.
Canadian visitor Mike Brash, who was in the area with his family, said he visited the island over 30 years ago to tour the Sam Lord’s Castle, which was a tourist attraction at the time.
He told Barbados TODAY once completed he would “definitely come down and spend the day and check it out”.
The new resort is being developed with BTI and will be managed by Wyndham Hotel Group.