An assurance Monday from developers of the Sam Lord’s Development Project that they intend to operate within the four corners of Barbados’ laws.
Acting General Manager Michael Philips was responding to claims levelled by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley in her Budget reply at the start of the month.
While accusing Government of flouting the law, Mottley had charged that the multi million-dollar development had started without all of the necessary approvals in place.
The Opposition Barbados Labour Party leader had also contended that even though sections of the Wyndham project were covered by previous approvals granted to CLICO, the overall development was still in planning abeyance.
However, in an attempt to set the record straight, Philips explained that the project had bought over the intellectual property, including the planning permissions, from the previous CLICO development initiative.
“In fact what has happened is that we bought over the intellectual property including the planning permission from the CLICO arrangement,” he said, while stressing that the hotel development was positioned on the same footprint as the original permission.
“So we are in fact constructing in a manner, which is in compliance with all of the legal regulations,” the developer stressed.
Responding to questions from Barbados TODAY during Monday’s press briefing hosted by project officials at the Bridgetown office of the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. (BTII), Philips however acknowledged that an application had to be made amendment to the original plans.
However, he said this was “not unusual in such situations”, and that it had “not in anyway called into question the legality of our actions with regards to the construction.
“So just to draw a line through this, we are acting in full compliance of the regulations and we are not nor do we intend to operate outside of the law,” he stressed.
The developer also indicated that even though the project had become a political talking point, enthusiasm levels for the St Philip luxury hotel, which is due for completion in 2019, had not waned.
“From what I can discern there has been no diminution on their [Wyndham’s] part certainly on the evidence of our recent meetings. They are extremely keen to continue this relationship and they see this as a major opportunity to establish and extend their footprint in this region using a world-class facility,” Philips said.
Vice President of Operation Wyndham Latin America Eduardo Cruz Del Rio, who was also present at the briefing, expressed his eagerness to bring the brand to Barbados. He explained that his organization had anticipated that issues would arise with such a major development and was well prepared to address them.
“I can confirm that enthusiasm has only increased from the first time we were contacted by BTII. Any project around the world, be it a small project or such a large-scale nature like this one, would offer challenges and we are ready to overcome them and do what is required,” he said.
Cruz del Rio also described the hotel under construction as a “game changer”, not only for the Caribbean, but worldwide. He said the Wyndham brand was a leader in the hospitality industry and pointed out that it now had about 9,000 hotels in 77 countries.
“In the pipeline, we have over 59,000 new rooms in North America and 138,000 rooms worldwide. Sixty-seven per cent of these are now under construction . . .,” he disclosed.
He noted that in 2016 a new loyalty programme was launched and it was now ranked number one in the world. “What is important to this is that we have over 50 million members in that programme now and all of these are potential clients for Sam Lord’s Castle,” he said.
Up to 1,000 Barbadians are expected to find employment at the new luxury hotel.