The financially troubled, exclusive Apes Hill Polo Club is open for business and will continue to host polo matches, owner Sir Charles COW Williams has declared, as the landowner, developer and construction magnate announced its “imminent” sale.
The planned sale of the ten-year-old property, including its 18-hole golf course that was billed as the “only golf, polo and tennis community of Barbados, is expected to fetch over $400 million (US $200 million), he told Voice of Barbados radio.
Sir Charles was responding to a recent newspaper article indicating that Apes Hill Club, along with the Lion Castle Poli Estate in St Thomas may have seen their last chukkas as the property was being sold for $40 million less than its original asking price.
During a heated discussion on VOB’s popular Down to Brasstacks call-in show, Williams called in to declare that ahead of a sale of the polo club and adjoining golf course to Canadian entrepreneur Glen Chamandy, the development was not “in bush, like Lion Castle”.
Sir Charles said: “Apes Hill Polo Club is very much still active and properly groomed and in excellent condition.”
While admitting the 470-acre Apes Hill Golf Course was initially at risk of deterioration, the developer credited Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s intervention in getting the property sold to the Canadian businessman, who said he would revitalise the property.
“We were carrying it all along expecting that [the deal] would be closed, but the trustee was unable to close it because two of the bondholders refused to agree to sell it to the man paying the most money,” he said.
In the meantime, he said the Williams family had injected $30 million into the property’s upkeep as the sale reached conclusion.
“The new prospective owner came to an agreement with us from the very beginning. It was never any doubt with him, said Sir Charles in response to questions from moderator David Ellis.
“Apes Hill, on conclusion of the sale, which is imminent, will have brought into Barbados over $200 million US dollars. Let somebody check and see if the last four cane crops brought in that.”
Sir Charles also defended his stewardship of the project and blamed the global financial situation for losses to the National Insurance Scheme, which invested nearly $20 million in the property’s construction. He refuted claims that banks lost money on their loans.
He declared: “The banks haven’t lost anything but the exorbitant interest rate of over six per cent.
“When I calculated it, they have gotten back all of their money. The only thing they haven’t done is made a profit on what they don’t meet, but they surely got back their money and interest and some more.
“So whatever they get now is profit.”
While acknowledging his own company made a significant amount of money from the project’s construction, Sir Charles claimed much of it was being used to pay the over 400 hundred workers who were laid off six months ago.
But he also lit into the previous administration, which he claims took ten years to grant planning permission. Sir Charles then blamed himself for continuing the development amid the extended wait and red tape.
“People don’t understand what I’ve been through!” he said as he recounted experiences with Government’s delay in granting permission.
But as Sir Charles started making direct references and calling the names of public servants involved, he was stopped and scolded by Ellis.
“That is not for us to get involved in. Those people [public servants] aren’t here to defend themselves,” he told the caller.
As the businessman continued, he said: “Let’s wrap this up, because we are getting into an area that I do not feel comfortable with,” moments before the call abruptly ended.