The nation’s oldest hotel has partnered with the internationally acclaimed, Florida-based, Hilton Grand Vacation (HGV) on its timeshare business in a US$54.6 million deal.
This makes Barbados the first location in the region where the largest luxury timeshare brand will offer timeshare weeks to owners and guests.
Making the announcement on Monday during a media conference at Government Headquarters, owner of the Crane Resort Paul Doyle said it took about two-and-a-half years to complete negotiations and cement the arrangement.
He gave the assurance that Millennium Investment Ltd would remain the owner of the Crane, while adhering to HGV’s brand standard.
Under the agreement the Crane will be subjected to a quality score each month.
“We have made a sale transaction where they purchase timeshare inventory from the Crane. The transaction value is US$54 million. So, it is a significant transaction and that is just phase one,” said Doyle, who pointed out that the deal consisted of two phases.
“They are calling it ‘Hilton Grand Vacations at the Crane’. So what this does it really allow us to be full year-round. It is quite an opportunity for us. It takes the seasonality out of the business,” he said.
Under phase one of the agreement HGV will acquire one, two and three-bedroom suits timeshare inventory from Millennium Investment Ltd over a 28-months to three-year period.
Sales are scheduled to start by next month, and HGV Club Membership occupancy is expected to begin early next year.
Though not giving details of the level of planned investment for phase two, Doyle said that phase would see HGV purchasing “new built inventory” or about 120 units, which he said was more than phase one.
“An investment like that does demonstrate confidence in Barbados and that confidence is something that we all need at this time. So the timing of this is very important for growth in the Crane as a company and for Barbados,” said Doyle.
He said the partnership would allow the Crane, which is already in the timeshare business, to open more restaurants, offer more variety, and “dramatically” accelerate its growth.
“With that these folks are ready, willing and able to come and do a lot more with us as time goes on. This is an important opportunity for us, but also for the country. Timeshare can bring not just stability to our business but to the [tourism] sector and it is something the country can count on for the economy because it is consistent year after year and week after week. I see it opening up more air routes from the United States,” said Doyle.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley welcomed the deal while lauding the Crane for its work in helping to develop the island’s tourism product over the years.
She said the agreement, which came on the heels of the recent decision by Ross University to set up shop in Barbados in early 2019, was an indication that confidence was returning to the Barbados economy.
“For us as a Government this is very welcomed news . . . the Government of Barbados recognizes that if we are to get out of where we have found ourselves, where we have inherited, the only way we can do it is through growth,” said Mottley.
“As important as phase one is we are equally looking forward to phase two because phase two is about building new product and ensuring that new product can be sold, bringing additional value to the country and additional jobs and additional foreign exchange. So we really are very happy,” she said.
Pointing out that her administration was keen on introducing legislation to regulate timeshare, Mottley said it remained an area where there was potential for growth.
The Prime Minister said she also saw the agreement with HGV as an avenue to create a platform for additional construction and expansion of rooms in the niche area.
“We accept that there will be others who will want to come forward and in coming forward we need to be able to settle the regulatory framework that can work without hurting the country but giving confidence to those who are buying,” she said.
Mottley said she expected Barbados to benefit from HGV’s international brand recognition as well as its marketing power especially in the US market, which could help build the island’s airlift capacity.