Dear Investors and Agents,
Already, 2012 has been a very busy and exciting year. All my time and energy is spent ensuring that progress continues for all aspects of the business; with the speed at which things happen here, it is easy to forget to update everyone as regularly as I would like about all the exciting developments taking place, and I must apologise for that. We give you updates on each of our resorts through the regular newsletters we send out, but I thought now would be a good time to give you an overview.
Reflecting over the Easter period on the progress we have made since Christmas, I am pleased to confirm that all aspects of the business have progressed well.
Funding for Clients
First of all, I feel that one of the main success stories is that we now have a number of seriously interested parties ready to work with us financially, not only in assisting us in building our resorts, but also to offer the mortgages to our end clients. Hopefully this will mean we are able to offer mortgages to those invested in Buccament Bay Resort.
I am also confident that at least two or three of the organisations I am working with will be offering us finance, thus enabling us to complete our projects much quicker.
Buccament Bay Resort
Our flagship resort continues to improve all the time. The feedback we receive is beyond what we ever expected, and it is clear that the vast majority of guests visiting the resort are stunned by the quality, service and standards that we have set. We are also collecting quite an A-list of celebrity customers, all of whom want to return to the resort again; when you consider they can travel to any hotel in the world, that is a big compliment!
In March, the Australian and West Indies Cricket teams played a series of One Day International matches in St Vincent, and both teams stayed at our resort throughout. The West Indies have said they plan to make this a regular destination for their forthcoming matches, and the Australian Team Manager, Gavin Dovey, sent us the following comment:
“We are on the road for at least 250 days a year, so I like to think we know hotels, and Buccament Bay Resort is easily one of the best places we have stayed anywhere in the world. The location and surroundings are simply stunning, the facilities are world class, and more importantly, the people are incredibly professional, friendly and helpful. Buccament Bay Resort is definitely a place we’re hoping we get the chance to stay at again.”
The beachfront area is now nearing completion, as I saw for myself when I visited the resort over Easter. By the 1st May, it is expected that Jack’s will be fully open, and we believe the idyllic location right on the beachfront and the quality of design will mean it will not only be one of the best conceptual restaurants in the Caribbean, but one of the best in the world.
By May, the buildings for Trader Vic’s, Safran’s bigger and better new home, Masquerade night club and the conference centre will also be complete; however, these will open during the course of the year as demand grows. This area will be a stunning location and the heart of the resort.
Also, during the summer we will be opening a horse riding centre, which will enable people to ride in the hillsides around the beautiful Buccament Bay area, giving stunning views of the Caribbean Sea looking out to Bequia.
We are proud to announce that the Liverpool Youth Squad will be visiting the resort for a week in May, where they will be coaching the local community and schools, as well as playing a game against the Under-20s national side. Although the pitch will not be fully ready for a match at that time (the pitch is all there but the turf needs a little more time to settle), they will be able to use it for training. It is expected and hoped that from the summer professional teams, including clubs from all over Europe and the UK, will visit and stay at Buccament Bay Resort to use these wonderful facilities.
We can also confirm our agreement with the West Indies Cricket Board, whereby we have been holding cricket academies at the resort since 1st April 2012. The nets were built and installed by the people who make similar facilities at Lord’s in London, so the facilities must rate amongst one of the best in the whole of the Caribbean.
The building works on the Merricks Resort Show Houses is ongoing and due for completion in the next few months. We have new offices in Barbados where we house our own building team, including architects, a contract management company, engineers, etc. This team is now working solidly on complying with the last of the 19 points needed to enable us to begin the first phase of Merricks in earnest, ready to open in 2013.
As you are aware, we bought the Allamanda Hotel, which is now renamed H Barbados, and we are completely refurbishing the property, having knocked some of the hotel down to enable us to do the extensive work required to turn this into a true luxury boutique hotel. This is also due to open in 2013.
The Marquis Estate
I have had endless meetings with the design, engineering and conceptual teams to formulate the layout of this stunning piece of land, and we have now created the design layouts and conceptual details for the Gary Player Hotel, the Pat Cash Hotel, and the first 500-room Harlequin Hotel. In case you don’t know, we currently own in the region of 600 acres for the site, so there will now be a cluster of five star resorts within the stunning Marquis Estate area.
We are continuing to meet all the requirements needed to build such a development and have all the support and documentation in place from the Government to enable us to move forward on the project. We have just recently received notice from the Government that we have permission to improve the standards of the existing roads to the site (not the roads we have already built on the site), which allows us to press on with offices, show houses, etc., that will be ready this year for people to see the progress made. We are planning to open the first phase from 2013.
blu St Lucia
As you are also aware, we bought the Village Inn hotel in Rodney Bay, and, considering we only took over this hotel in January of this year, we are proud to confirm that we opened on time and on budget on Sunday, 1st April 2012. This popular hotel has been transformed from perhaps a 2 or 3 star to a 4 star standard in such a short time, and it has been achieved thanks to the team we have working with us and the commitment of our hotel management team.
I urge you to make a visit to this hotel to see for yourself how, with the two places now open, we are striving to raise the standards and redefine luxury in the Caribbean.
We have been working extensively with our design and architectural teams in Dominican Republic and are almost ready to start building our three resorts, so you will see massive movement during this year.
We have also had successful meetings with all the major banking and financial institutions in the Dominican Republic, and are very close now to not only ensuring mortgages for all of our investors in the Dominican Republic, but also for building finance that will enable us to start building all three resorts at the same time.
As I hope you can appreciate, this is a great achievement in the current economic climate and should not be underestimated.
As you are all aware, it was always our aim not to open in Brazil until 2014. With all the issues of putting together a company the size that we have created, it has been difficult to focus on another region and market such as Brazil; however, we are still confident that in 2014 we shall be open and trading ready for the World Cup. We will, of course, keep you fully updated on progress and development. Brazil is going to be a new leading economy in the future that will prove what a great investment this will be.
Due to protracted difficulties, I had to step back on the piece of land we were looking at in Jamaica; however, I have been visiting Jamaica regularly over the last few months and am close to completing on something that will give us a foothold in the country and enable us to move forward with our plans. I see Jamaica as an important part in Harlequin’s mission to establish itself as a major hotel brand in the whole of the Caribbean.
The Caribbean is not the easiest place to work at times and, as an outsider, it takes time to build the respect from not only the local people but also the Governments and regulatory bodies. Now, though, I feel we are starting to make everyone in the Caribbean realise that we are serious and we are there to work with the countries to improve the standards for everyone.
It is frustrating that we are not flying yet when our ‘planes have been sitting in our hangar in Antigua for some time, but we are working diligently to make it happen as soon as possible. We will ensure that our ‘planes and airline will be the most advanced, professional and well maintained aircraft flying out there, giving everyone confidence to fly in what we know will be the most luxurious private airline in the region.
I am pleased to announce that Graham Hawkins, who has worked in the travel industry for many years, has joined Harlequin to look after the travel operators, such as Kuoni, Virgin, BA, Thomas Cook, etc., and spread the word about Harlequin, Buccament Bay Resort and blu St Lucia.
Claire Lloyd has also joined our team; her role is presenting and offering our hotels to the travel industry. Anna Blyth heads the travel sales side and is already signing up travel operators for the 2013 season, so we are pleased to say that next year is already starting in a positive manner with bookings being taken. We can also confirm that as of Easter, business for 2012 has already doubled that taken in the whole of 2011, so the message is getting out there.
We are proud to announce that we now have an office in New York at 99 Park Avenue, which is headed by Eva Chan, who, with Mark Schmidt, will be looking after the North American and Canadian markets. Now that we have established our offices in America, we will be expanding and developing our brand the course of this year.
Two weeks ago, I was interviewed live at Buccament Bay Resort by The Travel Show with Frommer’s Travel, which is a radio programme that goes out to 167 radio stations in the US.
Our PR company, Brandman, are also getting our name out to the markets. For example, in January the New York Times announced that Buccament Bay Resort was number 17 of the top 40 places in the world to visit.
We are also pleased to announce that we have opened four offices in Europe: Paris, Milan, Frankfurt and Moscow. Likewise, these will be informing the trade of our wonderful new resorts and I am sure that as the year progresses, Europe, the UK and the US will all know about Buccament Bay Resort and Harlequin.
Hopefully you can see that much has happened in the last 3 or 4 months, and we will strive to continue the huge steps we have made to establish ourselves as a major brand in the Caribbean. I would strongly recommend that you make a visit to some of our Open Days, where you will learn how things are moving along and the team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.