After several years of closure, one of Barbados’ oldest boutique hotels is set to resume operations in the second quarter of this year, but under new ownership.
The former multiple award-winning Peach and Quiet Hotel, now OceanBlue Resort, has been taken over by the Cole family, veteran hotel operators and previous co-owners of the former Casuarina Beach Club, now Sandals Barbados.
Liesje Cole, who will be managing the 22-room boutique OceanBlue Resort, told Barbados TODAY she was hoping that after a major investment in upgrading the facility, it would become a force to be reckoned with in the industry.
“When we were looking to buy there was a lot of uncertainty around, but of course the time to invest is when there is such uncertainty because in bringing back the industry we become a part of the recovery. So that is what we are aiming to do. We are going to be part of that recovery. This property is coming back into the tourism pool. So we are really glad to do that and bring jobs back to Barbadians,” said Cole.
“We really felt that now is the time to aid in Barbados’ recovery in the tourism industry, and we can play a small part in that,” she said.
The tourism executive opted not to disclose how many employees will work at the oceanfront property when it reopens but pointed to the knock-on effects of having it back into operation.
In fact, indicating that several micro industries benefit directly and indirectly from the tourism sector, Cole told Barbados TODAY OceanBlue Resort will be ensuring that linkages with other sectors are maintained and strengthened.
“We would like to have people come here to talk about history with the guests. We would like to have an astronomer come here when the skies are clear and you can see the stars . . . . Our bar and restaurant is going to be operated by Marco Polo, who are currently near the Crane Hotel, so they are relocating their business here,” said Cole.
She also indicated that wind and water sport activities will be a part of the offering to attract a younger demographic who have already been reaching out. The minimum age accepted at OceanBlue Resort is 13 years.
At the same time, Cole is giving the assurance that the hands-on, family-type atmosphere that the location is known for over the years will be maintained.
“We will attract guests from North America, England and Europe. That is where the majority of the guests were coming from before and we are going to attract those guests once more. We will appeal to wind and water sports enthusiasts and to guests looking to embrace our dynamic coastline and artistic architecture,” she said.
“All indicators point to Barbados growing its tourism industry. That is our future. I support people who endeavour to invest in those things. It is a huge undertaking and it is a risk when there are uncertainties, but you put yourself out there and you go with all faith that it is going to work out.
“One thing we are very privileged to have is a substantial art collection that we grew over many years. So we will be having an art gallery with the work of local artists and we will be rotating the art on a regular basis. We really want to expose guests to the creativity here in Barbados,” she added.
Cole is hoping to build a repeat clientele and an average occupancy rate of 95 per cent all year round.
She said guests who stayed at the location before have already been reaching out and are eager to book their stay.
“They are saying they can’t wait to come back and stay in their old room. That is very nice. We are looking forward to having that,” the hotelier said.
Bookings are expected to go live in late February.
Opting not to disclose the level of investment, Cole would only say it was “substantial”, while indicating that construction started at the location in late 2019 and had been delayed on more than one occasion due to the COVID-19 lockdown and other measures associated with the ongoing pandemic.
“We have never lost any enthusiasm. The hotel is just a beautiful gem in this really nice area,” said Cole, who was speaking with Barbados TODAY at the location while workmen did their jobs.
“We had a lot of structural repairs to make because it is a pretty harsh environment here with the salt air. We started in 2019 and we are aiming to complete the second quarter of this year. At the moment, we are aiming for April 2022 and I think we are going to make that,” she said, adding that most of the work left to be done was cosmetic.
The sale price of the approximately 3.25 acre, Inch Marlow, Christ Church 50-year-old hotel property was initially set at US$4.5 million when it went on the market in 2012, before falling to just over US$3.25 million.
Under the stewardship of veteran hotelier Adrian Loveridge and his wife, the property operated for about 24 years as Peach and Quiet Hotel, after operating for several years prior as the Arawak Inn. [email protected]