the broad street Journal Monday, January 25, 2010 • Vol. X No. 2 • Barbados • Established 1993
Amid recession, Peronne Village opens at Worthing
Desirée Phillip, owner of Body Essence at Peronne Village, Worthing
Persaud to speak at BSJ Breakfast Club next Monday
espite the recession, a new mini-shopping area has opened up to complement the other stores and services in and around Peronne Plaza in the heart of the south coast. Fiona Kinch told The Broad Street Journal that her family, which owns the land, wanted to do something to beautify it as it contained the remnants of a mangrove marsh which once was more prevalent before the development of the area into retail, office and warehouse space over the past
Protecting dollar is CBB’s top priority, says Worrell
he most important mission of the Central Bank of Barbados as well as the government is to protect the Barbados emerged as the dollar, says new Central Bank new executive chairman of a governor Dr. DeLisle Worrell. body representing Speaking at his first press stakeholders in conference on the economy the Four Seasons since taking office, Dr. Worrell project, has agreed said that, having been involved to speak at the first with the Barbados economy BSJ Breakfast Club for most of his career, the “most meeting, which impressive” accomplishment will be held at the Accra beach he had seen was the country’s Resort from 7:30am to 9:30am ability to maintain the parity next Monday, February 1, 2010. of the Barbados dollar at 2:1 in Prof. Persaud recently relation to the US dollar since disclosed that the Barbados it had moved away from the Continued on page 2 sterling peg.
Professor Avinash Persaud (pictured below), the noted Barbadian-born economist who has also
few decades. The result is Peronne Village, a picturesque throwback to an old country village, designed by Architect Mark Hiorns. Twentytwo units, now occupied by over a dozen retailers, professionals and a coffee shop are housed in small vernacular buildings surrounding the beautified swamp, complete with lily pads, frogs and other denizens of that type of vegetation. Fish have been added to patrol for mosquitos and Continued on page three
And despite experiencing “much more severe economic blows than expected, we have ended 2009 with the foreign reserves at a safe level.” The Net International Reserves protects the country “in that we can always supply foreign exchange on demand for all legitimate purchases.” The new governor said that, in his view, the principal challenge facing the government was to contain the fiscal deficit. According to the central bank’s review of the economy for 2009, released on Tuesday, the fiscal deficit has increased to 8.4% of the gross Continued on next page
The Broad Street Journal • Monday, January 25, 2010 • Page 1
Passion-driven, and living the ‘lush life’
How Tom Hinds built a haven that includes horticulture, a restaurant and now a resort -p.8
person An eye for beauty
Shouket Abed built his business from scratch with entrepreneurial instinct and strong family backing. -p.4
Dr.Worrell’s first Rx
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domestic product, up from 6.4% in 2008. (The two figures, it should be noted, are based on different GDP totals. In 2008, GDP was estimated at just over Bds $7.1 billion, so that the actual fiscal deficit of $455 million worked out to be 6.4%. For 2009, Barbados gross domestic product was estimated to have fallen by 5.3% to around $6.7 billion, so
that the actual government shortfall between revenue and spending, totalling $567 million, worked out to be 8.4%.) Dr. Worrell pointed out that the other major factor affecting Barbados’ return to growth was the country’s “tremendous dependence on other economies.” He said that “everything we do depends requires foreign exchange,” and how successful the
Dr. DeLisle Worrell at his first press conference, January 2010. Continued from page 1 government would likely guarantee a new loan of US$60 million to get the Four Seasons project rolling again. Prof. Avinash will address the topic “The ins and outs of the Four Seasons rescue and its role in the upgrading of our tourist sector.” Prof. Persaud, who had over 20 years of experience in investment banking before becoming an advisor to governments and
country is at selling goods and services to foreigners will determine when our economy will recover. Asked by the press whether he felt the economy needed a stabilization programme, Dr. Worrell said the government had already introduced a number of measures that he believed went as far as its resources would permit, and that to do much more could cause it to borrow more from the central bank. That in turn would put more pressure on imports and would threaten the economy’s stability itself. Asked by another reporter whether the current economic downturn was a serious as the one the country faced in 1991 and he was preparing the country for “tough medicine,” the governor said the answer was simply no, because “in 1991 we ran out of foreign exchange.” He added: “Government does not earn foreign exchange and you cannot resuscitate without foreign exchange,” adding “we have to ‘hold strain’ until the foreign exchange demand comes back.” Dr. Worrell was asked by The Journal why there were eight percentage points between the central bank’s own projection, made in September 2008, of a 2.8% growth in GDP in 2009 compared with its current projection of a 5.3% fall. He said the situation was caused by unforeseen external forces. He noted that prior to September 2008 there was a world financial crisis, but the real economy overall was still “in good shape.” However, when Lehman Brothers was allowed to collapse, he said, it triggered a major recession,
institutions around the world, was recently ranked #2 amongpublic intellectuals on the financial crisis by Prospect magazine, ahead of Ben Bernanke and Paul Krugman. Editor of The Broad Street Journal, Patrick Hoyos, said he was delighted that Dr. Persaud had accepted the invitation to kick off the BSJ Breakfast Club’s 2010 series. “Prof. Persaud is a forthright and dynamic personality, who can explain complex economic issues in layman’s terms. His involvement in
which could have become a worldwide depression. The reason, he said, was that Lehman Brothers’ collapse led to a loss of credibility in the US government and also a loss of confidence in the market by investors, forcing the U.S. government to intervene to save American International Group, Inc. (AIG). The loss of confidence helped to drag the world economy down, said Dr. Worrell.
he new governor was asked how far he felt the government should intervene in the creation of jobs and in achieving other desirable aims in the economy. When asked by a reporter how government might do more to “juggle the economy” in order to try to save jobs, he replied government was doing the best that it could. In a follow-up, the reporter noted that the various economic sectors were saying it wasn’t enough, to which he replied, “Can’t think of anything else.” Pressed as to why the central bank had predicted incorrectly as late as last September that it expected the GDP to fall by 4% for the year, over one percent below its current estimate, Dr. Worrell said that the fall tourism numbers had been correctly projected, but the was a greater slowdown in construction and other domestic sectors than expected. However, he said this was good for the economy because it took some pressure off the foreign reserves. He said the economy’s net underlying indicators were still good, and he felt that Barbados’ stable outlook should be maintained by ratings agencies. The downturn would not last forever and “Barbados has a very good name and product so when it ends we will be in a good place. The crisis has not caused these things to disappear.” • BSJ
getting this vital project going again is most welcome and I think he will provide us with a much better understanding of the challenges facing Four Seasons next Monday.” The price for full breakfast is Bds$49.45 Vat-inclusive on the day of the event, or only $44.85 if paid by this Friday, Jan. 29, to Hoyos Publishing Inc. Call Pat Hoyos at 230-5687 to make your reservations. Space is limited. • BSJ
The Broad Street Journal • Monday, January 25, 2010 • Page 2
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Zoe Hunte showcases the merchandise at Zorin
Continued from page 1 fountains circulate the water in the pond. The three storybook bridges which link the shops on either side have been named after top racehorses once owned by the Bourne family in the late 1950s and early ’60s and which were stabled a stone’s throw away - Mentone, Blue Sails and Midwatch. Peronne Plaza is now fully tenanted and is home to GetSet, Body Essence, Zorin, Once Upon a Time, Flirt, and Zonna boutiques; two salons, a doctor’s office, a lawyer’s office, Destinations Unlimited travel agency, a wedding planner, interior designer, a new branch of The Coffee Bean, Red Zen Pilates Studio, and a dental office (scheduled to open in six weeks). Desirée Phillip, who owns and operates Body Essence, said that while there was less customer traffic compared to what she experienced at the shop’s previous location in a large mall, customers who came in were more focussed on getting what they were looking for, which she appreciated. Mrs. Kinch said that each unit was 330 sq. ft in size and the rate of $5 per sq. ft. per month plus VAT was, in her opinion, “very reasonable.” But she said since the family already owned the land, they had wanted to pass
the savings on in order to get the village fully tenanted as quickly as possible. “We opened at a time when everyone was panicking,” she noted, adding that she felt the combination of services at Peronne Village complemented the activities of the commercial bank (FirstCaribbean) next door, the Worthing Post office in front and Big B Supercentre in the same compound. While Mrs. Kinch is charge of the complex on a day-to-day basis, she says her brother, the well-known rally driver Paul Bourne, as well as their father Michael Bourne and uncle David
Bourne, were also involved in Peronne Village. She noted that an impromptu entertainment session held at the complex during the recent jazz festival had been so successsful that more evening events were being considered. But she stressed that things were still evolving as the new tenants settled down. A formal opening event was also planned in the near future, she noted. BSJ
Above: A view from one of the bridges at Peronne Village. Far Left: The Coffee Bean will become the central meeting point at the complex.
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FAMILY FIRST: Shouket Abed and his wife Milly, both seated in the front row, are pictured in this Christmas 2008 gathering with their children, their children’s spouses and grandchildren. Back Row (from left): Christopher Weatherhead, Alexander Abed, Son Eddy Abed, Michael Weatherhead. Middle Row: Son Tony Abed, Sean Abed, Samira Abed, Nikita Abed, Eddie’s wife Kim Abed, John Abed, Alexis Abed, Jonathan Weatherhead, Daughter Sylvia Abed-Weatherhead, Sylvia’s husband Dr. Louis Weatherhead. Front Row: Tony’s wife Wendy Abed, Shouket Abed, Christiana Abed and Milly Abed.
An eye for beauty, a love of family celebrating
hen Shouket Abed was a boy growing up poor in a remote village in Syria he had a vision: it was of a large and beautiful store built of marble to which the public flocked and which he owned. At the time, the Second World War was raging and there seemed no discernable path by which the young, uneducated, non-English speaking country boy would achieve such an outlandish dream, but, as he told his children later in life, the vision stayed with him and only got stronger. In the late 1940s, when he was about 17 years old, his uncle, who lived in Trinidad, sent for him and Shouket emigrated to a new country, where he was welcomed into the family and
became more like a son than a nephew. This gateway to the future had been established long before, although it provided no guarantees for success. It was Rahmie Sabga, the grandmother of Milly Abed (nee Moses) who set out from Syria alone in the early 1900’s on a voyage that eventually landed her in Trinidad, although her originally destination had been Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her husband had visited family a few years prior. She was joined a year later by her husband Joseph and son Abdou and they worked hard to establish a base for the family to join them and for future generations to prosper.
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28 October 1985: Shouket and Milly Abed (right) in a receiving line for Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by then Prime Minister Bernard St. John. Behind Mr. St. John is then Commissioner of Police Orville Durant. Continued from previous page
But simply arriving in the Caribbean didn’t mean Shouket’s fortunes were assured. But from early on, the youthful Shouket showed his adventurous streak by accepting the tough assignment of a travelling salesman, going out into the countryside as far as the buses would take him and sleeping out on the rough terrain overnight as the buses did not return until the next day. He carried a suitcase filled with pants’ lengths and other fabric, selling to customers who could not make it into the city and therefore represented a large untapped market. Shouket married Milly Moses in 1954 and went to work with his brothers-in-law, who operated A. Moses and Sons, a fabric store in Port-of-Spain. At the same time, he was teaching himself English and absorbing all the street smarts that would make him a true
“people person” in business. Years later, after his success in business had been long proven and the mantle passed to his children, Shouket would not leave the floor of his Swan Street flagship store, but, with his eye on the door, would position himself so that he would interact with
almost everyone who came into Abed’s. His children teased him about being the company’s “Wal-Mart greeter”, and he continued to bring that family contact to people of every race, class and creed who came in to shop and made them feel
THAT 70’s SHOW: Shouket Abed (right) with1973’s Independence Queen Heather White, who was sponsored by Abed’s. Heather later married West Indies fast bowler Joel Garner and their daughter Jewel Garner was Miss Barbados Universe 2007.
The Broad Street Journal • Monday, January 25, 2010 • Page 5
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wanted and special, which were the hallmarks of his business success. Shouket Abed’s arrival in Barbados had been inconspicuous. After going over to Tobago with the Moses’ to launch a branch of the store, the family later decided to relocate to Barbados. After a few years working with A. Moses & Sons on Swan Street, Shouket decided he wanted to go out on his own, and with the encouragement of his wife and the financial backing of his Trinidadian uncle, A.A. Laquis, which enabled him to get a bank loan, he opened Abed’s in 1964 at No. 32 Swan Street, where Zephirin Bakery had operated for years before burning down. By the late ‘70s, Abed’s had expanded next door into No. 31, which had become available after N.E. Wilson & Co. moved to Trafalgar Square, and into No. 30 in the mid-80s when the lot was purchased from the Altman family. Shouket Abed and his wife Milly were the perfect partnership: He the visionary
and risk-taker, she the one holding the company’s purse strings and seeing that all financial responsibilities were met. Shouket’s untrained but intrinsic flair for marketing led him to partner with BWIA offering free trips to New York to the winners of store competitions, and sponsoring contestants in the Jaycees and Independence Queen Shows in the 1960s and ‘70s and then becoming a major sponsor of Crop Over from its inception. He loved to have his store associated with beauty and elegance, and that also translated into key marketing moves he made early on, when he went upmarket to distance himself from his competitors. He would go to New York to select fabric himself and once brought back a single small shipment of fabric that cost an unheardof $6,000, which could buy a car in the 1960s. When other stores got several containers full of material, he would get half of a container for the same money. But people responded to his taste for quality over quantity and Abed’s prospered, be-
coming the flagship store of Swan Street and, in fact, the epitome of quality fabric in the island. s the years rolled by, Shouket Abed brought his sons into the family business, expanding into real estate development and other property and service related businesses. Today, while Abed’s is still one of the country’s leading garment and fabric stores, with a second outlet at Sheraton Mall, the Abed Group also includes Abed Enterprises Ltd., its real estate subsidiary, which owns and rents upmarket homes and also invests in commercial property, and was the lead developer of Quayside Centre Mall. It also includes Midway Distributors/ Ornamental, which specializes in gate motors, garage doors, barrier systems, entry systems, and other security-related systems for buildings. Mr. Abed died earlier this month at the age of 78, and we close this brief overview of a remarkable life with a few excerpts
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For reservations, email BSJ Editor Pat Hoyos at email@example.com or call 230-5687. Space is limited.
Prof. Avinash Persaud Monday, Feb. 1, 2010 • 7:30 AM Accra Beach Resort
TOPIC: “The ins and outs of the Four Seasons rescue and its role in the upgrading of our tourism sector” Price: $49.45 FULL BREAKFAST
Only $44.85 if you pay by Jan. 29.
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For reservations, Call or email BSJ Editor Pat Hoyos at 230-5687 or firstname.lastname@example.org The Broad Street Journal • Monday, January 25, 2010 • Page 6
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from a eulogy delivered by his son Tony: “(Dad) did not dote on us or over-indulge us. He gave us a lot of life tools and taught us to take nothing for granted, (to be) grateful for any and all of life’s abundances. His work ethic was incredible – he understood that the quality and passion you put into your work would determine the final result. Dad started every day by making the sign the cross and asked for God’s guidance and blessings. He believed that his success was guided by God’s will and his responsibility was to ensure that he gave back tenfold to his wife, family, friends and community. “For my father, family was everything and family was indeed responsible for everything he was. From his impoverished childhood in a small village in Syria named Anaz where he lost his mother at nine months old, his mother’s family, the Laquis’ from Trinidad helped him at 17 and brought him to Trinidad. Dad was the most unlikely of individuals that you would expect to succeed. He did not have any Ivy league MBA or a trust fund to start with, he had nothing but a sparkle in his eye, sincerity, determination and gut instincts that have turned this boy into one of Barbados’ most respected and successful businessmen.” He went on: “Dad never forgot the help he was given and reached out to help other family members and friends over his life. PROUD MOMENT: In November 2006: Shouket Abed receivied the Gold Crown of Merit Dad understood ‘Pay it forward’ very well from Barbados Governor-General for business achievements and commuity service. and made sure to instill this sense of gratithing rather odd happened. After dad awoke from the surgery, tude and humility in his children and grandchildren. he opened his eyes and stated “Son, I thought I was going to die “Our parents complimented each other’s strengths. Mum was and now each day is extra.” He meant it and lived it. He used the a natural CFO and kept the purse strings tight. Dad was persontime to draw us closer and teach others by example and experiable and genuinely loved all people regardless of their status or ence. Not a minute of self-pity or regret. Every day he thanked standing of life. (He) combined his strengths of vision, risk-takGod for His blessings and was true to his life motto ‘Thank God, ing and homegrown entrepreneurship along with Mum’s tight No Complaints.’” • BSJ purse policy to revolutionize the fabric and garment retail trade. “Dad could always see potential in overlooked situations where Eddy and I were a bit more reserved. Despite our conservatism and our attempt to harness his enthusiasm, his finely tuned business instincts were right most of the time. In November 2006, Dad was awarded the Gold Crown of Merit for his business achievements and community service by the Governor General of Barbados. This was one of Dad’s proudest moments Dad never forgot the help he in his career. was given and reached out to “My father suffered a debilitating fall in Trinidad in June 2008 whilst attending the funeral of his beloved cousin and best help other family members friend Abraham Laquis. After a series of spinal cord surgeries at and friends over his life. Dad Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami followed by a three-month stay at the Rehabilitation Centre, Dad returned to Barbados comunderstood ‘Pay it forward’ pletely paralyzed from the neck down, and dependant on others very well. - Tony Abed for every basic need. To any other man this result would have lead to profound anger and resentment. But in this case, some-
The Broad Street Journal • Monday, January 25, 2010 • Page 7
Passion-driven, and living the ‘lush life’ How Tom Hinds Built an eco-friendly haven that includes horticulture, a restaurant and now a resort.
By Patrick Hoyos
Entrepreneur Tom Hinds
ou’re sitting on the wide balcony of Naniki Restaurant enjoying Sunday brunch. The sound of live jazz music is in your ears and the heady intake of the freshest east coast air fills your lungs, not to mention the delightful aromas wafting up to your nostrils from the Caribbean cuisine on your plate, while your eyes are being overwhelmed by the tranquility of the green forest, tall cabbage palms and cosy cottages around you, and the deep blue Atlantic ocean below only a slightly less blue sky in the distance. With all this going on, it’s hard to believe that one man virtually invented the whole experience. That’s because, until he did something about it, the site on which you are enjoying this allengrossing Caribbean experience was nothing but wild bush and tall trees on a sloping hill. All 22 acres of it. Things began to come together in 1990 for this gregarious sales manager for a local printing company who loved people, loved entertaining, loved jazz with a special passion and thought getting into horticulture might also be a good thing to do in order to earn foreign exchange as his first business venture. It was a Jamaican friend who first got Tom Continued on next page
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Hinds interested in growing anthurium lilies, and after a visit to Jamaica in the early 1990s, where he met and learned a lot from a grower of the plants, he decided to go into the business. Around the same time, another friend who lived in the St. Joseph area knew there was a property for sale off Horse Hill, and when Mr. Hinds went to see it he was smitten. He got the loan to buy the land and began to grow anthuriums, expecting to earn foreign exchange for the country. Experience soon put that first idea to bed. What started out as an export-oriented project had to be converted very quickly into one aimed at the domestic market, recalls Mr. Hinds, due to Barbados’ high production costs. Cash flow was also a problem, as the grower had to undertake all of the costs of getting perishable flowers to their export destinations before getting paid. But luckily for his fledgling venture, there was what he calls “a growing awareness of cut flowers” in Barbados generally, and flower shops were beginning to use more locally-grown instead of all imported flowers. So after filling just a modest number of export orders, Tropical Blooms Barbados Inc., as Mr. Hinds called his venture, looked to the home market, and found some success supplying supermarkets as well as flower shops and some hotels. But although climatic conditions in the lush landscape in which his newly-purchased acreage were “ideal” for the job, the cost of the infrastructure, he says, was “horrendous”. He notes that “Just getting the shade house up was a tremendous cost, and I suppose I could probably have done it for a quarter of the price if it were on a flat piece of land, but you know, that is the nature of the property.” Today, Mr. Hinds grow nearly two dozen different varieties of anthurium lilies and the business is “holding its own,” as it competes with a handful of other large growers on the island. About people buying flowers in the supermarkets, he says, “You’d be surprised how that item on the shopping list has really caught on.” The step from anthuriums to appetisers evolved over time, and wasn’t part of some ‘master plan’ on Mr. Hinds’ part. “That’s the truth. The house was here when I
The shade house with anthuriums llies in bloom. bought the property. It was derelict and we had to do quite a bit of work on it.” The refurbished house was first used as a country getaway, where Mr. Hinds would invite friends to have a beverage and a meal. “I suppose it’s no secret that I like to entertain, and I figured, ‘Well, maybe I should start getting paid for it now.’ That’s where the whole idea of the restaurant came about,” he says. Mr. Hinds figured that what a restaurant would have going for it was “the whole ambience and natural [characteristics] of the property. Notwithstanding the fact that it is ‘behind God’s back’, as some Bajans would say, I thought that it would be a chance worth taking, and it has worked. We opened in 2001 (and) yes, indeed, we did go through some slow patches. 2009 was not the best of years for us, but Naniki is still here.” Naniki, he says, is an Arawak word meaning “spirited” or “full of life.” Mr. Hinds says he gets a lot of repeat business, because “the property has a special charm. I don’t think there’s any property in Barbados that would capture the kind of views and cool breezes that we have here in St. Joseph.” And while he is happy to take credit for the cool jazz served up along with
the Caribbean fare, he gives credit for the menu to a chef he had met “who had the ideal mix that I was looking for. Her name is Gina Johnson, and although she was born in Trinidad, she had worked in Jamaica, Grenada and Barbados. “I always had the idea of a Caribbean restaurant as opposed to just a Bajan restaurant. So when we first sat down and discussed the menu, she was thrilled. We started in 2001 and up to now the menu is still here, although we tweak it from time to time.” During the winter season and on weekdays, the majority of the clientele is made up of tourists. On Sundays, however, locals and visitors alike come up to Naniki for brunch. Summarising how the ambience fits in with the cuisine, Mr. Hinds says, “You have to understand something: When you’re here, you could be anywhere else in the Caribbean, as a matter of fact, probably with the sole exception of Barbados. When you really think about it you could be in Grenada, you could be in Portland in Jamaica, you could be in Dominica….You feel like you’re in the Caribbean, so why not serve Caribbean fare?” Part three of the trilogy is a group of cottages on the hillside, running in a
The Broad Street Journal • Monday, January 25, 2010 • Page 9
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INTERIOR DESIGN: From left, living room, master bedroom, shower, and kitchen. Continued from previous page
whimsical curve from the eastern side of the restaurant, where they meet the edge of the majestic cabbage palm grove, down the sloping hill with its manicured lawn about two hundred feet in the front of the restaurant. The group of seven cottages, which have been, says Mr. Hinds, “a work-inprogress for a long time,” now fall under a separate entity called Lush Life Nature Resorts Inc., and have now started renting. But, he says, “it’s been a real challenge getting (the cottage project) to this stage, believe me.” To attract locals, Mr. Hinds says he is currently offering packages to locals. The weekend package for the two-bedroom, which affords you use of the hot tub, is Bds$759.00 and includes breakfast at Naniki on Saturday and brunch on Sun-
day. The price is for two persons for two nights. “Check in on Friday, check out on Sunday after brunch. You have your kitchen, you can prepare a meal, and you have the run of the place. There’s the trail, and you can use the pool,” he says. Most cottages each have their own hot tub and access to a common swimming pool. They don’t have phones, but will soon have wifi Internet access. Having started the first part of his venture during a recession and experiencing another one ten years later after 9/11 and now the current one in which the whole world is engulfed, is Tom Hinds sorry he got into it all? “Not at all,” he says. “As a matter of fact I knew from day one that it had potential. How this potential would have materialized I suppose was a bit of a question mark, but I knew that after the shade house experience and now the cottages,
there was quite a bit we could do. We have permission for an additional ten cottages on the Western side of the property.” Significantly, Mr. Hinds adds that a major change for the hotel’s business model is that it is going to become a timeshare property. “I think it would provide new opportunities, and go a long way in helping me pay back the financiers,” he says, adding that, “We’ve had numerous requests (from) persons wishing to purchase property here.” Asked whether he still has another job besides tending to his anthuriums, his restaurant and now his emerging timeshare vacation residences, Mr. Hinds replies, “No, no, there’s only one of me.” Turning 60 in mid-December, Tom Hinds says he plans to keep on living out his dream in the lush hills of St. Joseph for as long as he has life and strength. When Continued on next page
ROOMS WITH A VIEW: The cottages of Life Life Resort offer unrivalled views of Barbados’ eastern coast and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
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YOUR TABLE AWAITS: Naniki just before the start of Sunday brunch. Continued from previous page
it is pointed out that he seems to be in fine health, he says, “Well, that’s what I’m saying. A 99-year-old man was here a couple days ago in the restaurant (and) when I congratulated him, the first thing he did was pull out his ID card, because he said no one believes that he is 99. And then he quickly said, ‘and everything’s working!’” As for the economy improving anytime soon, Mr. Hinds says, “I am one of these eternal optimists. I think that the recession has to bottom out, (but one) thing that is disturbing is the onerous departure tax that the British government is levying on countries, especially Barbados, a country that has been so dear to the UK from time immemorial. But hopefully once we can get by I think that we’ll start seeing the arrivals going up and investments flowing in. And I’m hoping that we’ll be able to capture some of that investment when we hit the market with the vacation residences.” In the meantime, one of the cottages has been turned into a spa, called Madini-
QUIET MOMENT: an early guest contemplates the landscape.
na, a Carib word, meaning beautiful flowers, says Mr. Hinds. A larger building, already started, on the western side will eventually house the purpose-built spa and wellness centre, as well as a small gym, a conference room, and two smaller apartments. And while he won’t disclose how much money has been invested in the various projects since he bought the land two decades ago, Mr. Hinds says, “I can tell you that (the cost of ) the cottages alone represents a very tidy sum.” But he is confident of success. “The product is going to work. I think that the growing awareness of people about eco-friendly places of accommodation will help.” But he doesn’t see himself as being ahead of his time. “I think that if you look around and see what is happening. Places like Costa Rica, for instance, have had a thriving eco-tourism industry for years. Guyana, as bad as things might be, still enjoys some measure of success (with eco-friendly resorts). And the market is there and growing for projects that em-
brace the whole idea of protecting the environment.” Finally, we asked Mr. Hinds what advice he might give to people who are in a job and are fairly comfortable and wondering if to become an entrepreneur. “You can’t advise anybody,” he says. “We are who we are as human beings. And while I might be considered a ‘brave’ person, there are lots of people out there who might not have the necessary ‘guts’ to (go into business for themselves). You have to be comfortable with whatever decision you take.” And is it true that entrepreneurs work harder? His reply: “They definitely work harder, there’s no question about it (and) there’s no such thing as retiring! You work and as long as you enjoy what you’re doing, hopefully you’ll be comfortable enough to take a week off a few times a year with someone else in charge. But I think that once the thing is passion-driven, then you’re stuck with it.” BSJ • Amanda Cummins contributed to this story.
This photo shows the wide area covered by the shade house.
The Broad Broad Street Street Journal Journal •• Monday, Monday, January January 25, 25, 2010 2010 •• Page Page 11 11 The
Our common humanity
ell on top of hell” is how one TV commentor described the brutal earthquake which devastated the hemisphere’s already long-suffering poorest nation on Tuesday, January 12 at 4:53 p.m. The images, the voices, the stories from Haiti have defied our ability to process the information. Two million people piled on top of each other in a small space with little or no infrastructure was how another commentator described Haiti before the quake, with almost no infrastructure such as ambulances or fire engines standing by in case of emergency. We are also learning that many buildings collapsed because they were not built with rebars and the concrete was not of the best quality. “This is the saddest country I have ever visited,” said a reporter. The whole city had not “pancaked,” he said, but most of it had, partly as a result of the power of the quake but also because of poorly-constructed buildings. David Brooks, writing in the New York Times, said Sunday that when an earthquake of the same magnitude struck California a few years ago, the death toll was a fraction of the number of people who have died in Haiti, because the California buildings mostly withstood the impact, while in Haiti they simply crumbled. Former President Bill Clinton said Sunday that new plans had already been in the works to improve Port-au-Prince and would be revised, and a whole new city would emerge from the rubble. In the meantime, the Caribbean Community is sending money and supplies and plans to set up a field hospital. We do not have the resources to be at the forefront of the rescue oper-
ations in disasters of this magnitude and we are right to leave the first response to betterequipped and -trained teams from the developed countries,
neighbours to make a long-lasting contribution beyond medical help that would build ties in a much deeper way between that country and the rest of the region. From former presidents to the ordinary man in the street,
“We who are Haiti’s neighbours must find a way to show our understanding that we all share a common humanity, and that there but for the grace of God went each one of us only recently.” but we have made a commitment to be in it for the long haul with Haiti. In addition to its current plans, Caricom should look at finding ways of involving professionals and skilled people in the region who may also want to volunteer help to Haiti in the weeks, months and years to come by, say, teaching classes, mentoring young people or providing consulting to established companies in all sorts of disciplines, from ICT to human resources, marketing, communications, teaching, accounting and a host of other subjects. This sort of “Caribbean peace corps” could allow Haiti’s
nobody can spend even five minutes watching the agony that has engulfed the people of Port-au-Prince and remain aloof. That suffering will continue to be felt even after the dead on the streets have been buried and the mass graves that once were residential and commercial buildings have been bulldozed. We who are her neighbours must find a way - in addition to the important necessity of sending money and supplies to show our understanding that we all share a common humanity, and that there but for the grace of God went each one of us only recently. BSJ
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230-5687 The Broad Street Journal • Monday, January 25, 2010 • Page 12