the broad street Journal Tuesday, February 9, 2010 • Vol. X No. 3 • Barbados • Established 1993
Mallalieu: Foreign buyers return to real estate market, after price “correction”
Terra Caribbean’s Andrew Mallalieu speaking at last week’s launch of The Red Book 2010
Altman to speak at next BSJ Breakfast Club, Mon., March 1 Real estate executive Paul Altman (pictured below), one of Barbados’ most prominent realtors and developers, has
rices for residential real estate of interest to foreigners underwent a ‘correction’ last year, falling by between 15% to 30%, and as a result, the buyers have returned to the market, says Terra Caribbean’s Managing Director Andrew Mallalieu. Speaking at a press conference to launch Terra’s third edition of its real estate guide The Red Book, Mr. Mallalieu said that he was very happy to note the improvement in the foreign market, as there had been more sales in the last
three months than over the previous twelve. “Buyers’ and sellers’ expectations are now being met, so there are more transactions,” he noted. Before that, he said, the prices were too high, so the market was stagnant. The local market, however, was going into a bit of a tough period, the real estate executive pointed out, saying it lagged the foreign market by about 18 months. At a time when supply was increasing in the local market, demand was slowly falling, “so our predicContinued on page 2
Persaud : Breaking the Four Seasons “cycle” my priority
he Barbados government’s guarantee of a US$60 million loan to the Four Seasons project will “break the cycle” that agreed to speak has kept the project in limbo at the seceond for a long time despite several BSJ Breakfast Club attempts to revive it, Profesmeeting, which will sor Avinash Persaud said last be held at the Palm week. Room at Tamarind Addressing the first meetCove Hotel from ing of the Breakfast Club 2010 7:30am to 9:30am Series, organised by The Broad on Monday, March 1, 2010. Street Journal and held at the Mr. Altman will discuss in further detail his idea of Accra Beach Hotel last Moncreating Dubai-style man-made day, Feb. 1, Prof. Persaud first islands off Barbados’ west outlined the situation as he Continued on page 3 found it when he was asked by
Far from the madding crowd Paul Doyle has turned the Crane Resort into a 220-room, still-growing resort on the eastern side of the island -p.5
person The Coffee Bean opens No. 4
Prime Minister David Thompson to look into ways to restart the moribund project. Prof. Persaud said that in 2004, when Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, the company which owns the Four Seasons hotel brand, was approached by a group of investors, a nondistribution” contract was signed with it which obligated the developers to build a hotel that would carry the Four Seasons name and have all the specifications required by the brand. The developers would Continued on page 3
Its bistro-style fare a hit with the lunch crowd, The Coffee Bean opens its newest store at Peronne Village -p.11
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The Broad Street Journal • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 • Page 1
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tion is that prices will fall by as much as 5%,” said Mr. Mallalieu. However, because of the pressure on undeveloped land, now an increasingly scarce resource, Mr. Mallalieu felt the island would see more high-density, including multistorey, developments coming on stream. Barbados has become an excellent place to do business, thanks to international tax treaties, a good educational system, excellent air links, and many great hotels and restaurants. The real estate executive noted that while his company, Terra, among others, had played a transitional role in creating a middle-class home market, that part of the local market was still not well served. “Traditionally, Barbadians will buy a plot of land and then build on it as they can afford to,” he noted. Terra has been involved in small developments and then some years ago, Bakers Woods, which very
SEEING RED: From left, Terra Caribbean’s Managing Director Andrew Mallalieu, Marketing Executive Kim Howard, and Director of Franchising & Marketing Kathy-Dawn Burke, perusing a copy of The Red Book 2010.
successful, with completed homes costing $30,0000 to $550,000. However, as real estate prices have increased across the board, those homes’ resale values had now gone up to as much as $750,000, which was out of reach for many middleclass families. “So what is happening is that while there are still many lots available out there, in terms of completed
homes, most people who once were calling for 10,000 square-foot lot, then 7,000 sq. ft. up to about eight years ago, were now accepting homes on 4,000 sq. ft. lots, some of them duplexes. He said Terra Caribbean would soon announce its involvement in a new middle-class housing development to be launched in a couple of weeks in which prices for duplexes were be-
low $550,000. He agreed, however, that there was, in addition, a huge market below that level, which was also under-serviced. Mr. Mallalieu noted that Barbados did not have a financial incentive structure to drive low-income housing development, although the government had promised to create the fiscal environment for this to happen. • BSJ
Change in gov’t policy slowed fall in local real estate prices
N HIS article in the Red Book 2010, titled “A Tale of Two Markets,” Mr. Mallalieu offered a closer look at the interplay between supply and demand on the local market. The fall in local pricing of between five and ten percent in 2009 could have been greater had not the government signaled its intent to review more critically change of use applications from agricultural to residential. The bottom line was that less land would become available and therefore less supply of homes on the local market in the future, and this may have slowed the fall-off in local market pricing. He said that Terra had also noticed a slackening in local demand for completed homes in the $250,000 to $400,000 price range. While such properties were indeed changing hands, the response to them was no longer “overwhelming,” as had formerly been the case, he noted. With existing supply meeting demand, people wanting to sell or buy homes on the local market could expect longer ‘exposure’ periods and flat prices. Turning to the foreign market, Mr. Mallalieu said tat 2009 had seen the lowest volume of transactions compared to the previous seven years. But the good news, he said that the “uncertainties that plagued the market from late 2008 through the summer of 2009 have slipped into the background and the focus is now on real value in a buyers’ market.” With major west coast developments like Beachlands and Port Ferdinand now launched, and St. Peter’s Bay completed, there was evidence that “sophisticated developers” had confidence in the Barbados market, while buyers had also returned with confidence and were looking for “instant gratification.”
Mr. Mallalieu noted that “The successful developers in 2010 and beyond will be well-capitalized risk takers who have done their market research and are willing to build projects with the business confidence that the purchasers will be there in the future. The off-plan buyer-funded development model will not succeed in the future.” Unfortunately, he adds, this will lead to a restriction in supply at some point in the future, and that, in turn, could lead to fast-rising luxury real estate prices once more. Meanwhile, he says, look for “slow but steady growth” in 2010 and “with an improving world economy creating demand,” a return to growth rates above the average of recent years. • BSJ
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Prof. Avinash Persaud addessing The BSJ Breakfast Club. Continued from page 1
therefore be able to use the world-famous name to attract buyers of villas, with some of the profits being ploughed into the building of the hotel. As a result, investors put their money into the purchase of villas on the understanding that there would be a Four Seasons Hotel as part of the complex. For the record, Prof. Persaud noted that the company which owns the Four Seasons brand does not put money into hotels itself. It is an operating management company only, which manages its brand. “Build villas and use the profits to build a hotel. That was the plan in 2004,” said Prof. Persaud, “and everyone thought it was a no-risk situation.” But he added, Continued from page 1 coast, provide an update on the progress of his current project Limegrove (see model below, right), which will transform the look and public spaces of Holetown, and take a look at Barbados’ future prospects in the high-end international real estate market. Among Mr. Altman’s many accomplishments in the real estate sector, apart from his
“Anytime you hear ‘No way this can fail,’ you have a problem.” But the problem was not with the purchasers of the villa, who were making their stage payments on time, and had put up close to US$90 million to date. It was the Bank of Scotland, which had lent the developers US$31 million to purchase the property from the Sandals Group, which indirectly threw a spanner in the works. In 2007, HBOS, the parent company of the Bank of Scotland, was on the verge of collapse and the British government forced Lloyds TSB to acquire it, said Prof. Persaud, putting in capital to take a 70% controlling stake in the new Lloyds Banking Group. How did this affect the Four Seasons project? The credit committee of a government-owned bank did not see lending to a residential project for rich people as part of its mandate, said Prof. Persaud, and told the developers that the loan would not be renewed. At first, this did not seem like much of a problem, he continued, because the developers believed the loan would be easily refinanced by the sale of just two villas, and in the meantime, the existing villa owners would put up the money. However, the villa owners took a different view, he said, because they themselves were seeing their investment portfolios collapse by up to 50% and they began to get worried, pointing out that the harder it got to sell villas, the less likely that enough money would be raised to build the hotel. They feared they might end up owning a villa with a quarry next to it, he quipped. Hence the vicious cycle - no more money meant no hotel, which in turn meant that the project would no longer be able to use the Four Seasons brand name, thereby further consigning it to the abyss of real estate ventures, it was felt.
present role as lead developer of Limegrove, was the conception and execution of Sugar Hill, the residential tennis resort which is home to many wealthy expatriates, including Sir Cliff Richard. Editor of The Broad Street Journal, Patrick Hoyos said, “The Club is most fortunate to have as respected and dynamic a person as Paul Altman agree to address its second
By that time, of the US$200 million pledged by 14 villa owners, close to US$90 million had been paid up. However, said Prof. Persaud, one of the villa owners, Sir Philip Green, a British billionaire businessman said to be Britain’s ninth richest person with assets worth around £4.43 billion in 2008, led investors in saying that no more money would be put into the project until it was certain that the hotel would be built. “This was the cycle I had to break,” said the professor. “What makes a financial crisis bad is that people become undiscerning, cutting all loans, good and bad, or by sector,” he went on. In this case, efforts to raise a new loan to pay back the Bank of Scotland were met with the reply that it would not be made to a project in the tourism sector. At the same time, the developers could not sell off the land on which the hotel was to be built nor could they opt for a different brand that might be less costly to bring to fruition, due to the “non-distribution” agreement with Four Seasons. For their part, the villa owners, he said, were willing to stay with the project, as long as the hotel would be built, and as long as, in the interim, some of the services of a hotel would be made available, such as food and beverage, maintenance and so forth, and as long as they could be confident in the management company running the project. The solution found by Prof. Persaud was to get the Barbados government to guarantee a loan of US$60 million in return for a 20% stake in the project and special rights under a golden share agreement. “I only wanted to get the smallest loan necessary to get the project going again,” he said. It would not be enough to build the hotel, but would be used to repay the Bank of Scotland loan, buy additional
meeting, following an excellent presetation by Prof. Avinash Persaud, who launched the 2010 series last Monday. The price for the full breakfast event is Bds$46 if paid by Friday,
The Broad Street Journal • Monday, January 11, The 2010 Broad • Page Street 3 Journal • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 • Page 3
Continued on next page Feb. 26 and $57.50 at the door, if space is available. make checks payable to Hoyos Publishing Inc. Call Pat Hoyos at 230-5687 to make your reservations.• BSJ
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land needed for the project, and pay off some of the creditors on a phased basis. When the new loan was received (up to last week the government had not officially signed off on its guarantee), Prof. Persaud said he was confident that the villa owners would start to put their remaining US$104 million into the project, and as the world recession began to recede, “it will be much easier to raise more money in 12 months time,” he said. On the question of creditors being paid, Prof. Persaud said that foreign creditors were getting a ‘50% haircut’, but local creditors had objected to getting back only half of every dollar they were owed, so they would receive three equal payments over the next three years, with interest. Acknowledging that the project has one large local creditor which has threatened to put the entire project into receivership, Prof. Persaud said that he hoped this did not happen because the whole new deal could fall through if all the claims and counterclaims were litigated. He said the villa owners could also take the developers to court, but in the end, the Paradise Beach project would remain as it now stands for another generation. He admitted the project was behind in its first promised payment to creditors but said the government had set up a committee of lawyers and professional to oversee its involvement, and he had only heard from them at the end of January. When the project does get rolling again, bridging finance would be needed until the rest of the villas are sold and the outstanding monies owed by existing villa owners is paid up. Prof. Persaud said it would cost about US$30 million “on top of the amount released by the villas” to construct a five-star Four Seasons hotel, and disclosed that China had offered to lend the project US$120 million. However, he said, all loans from foreign governments could be expected to have conditions attached designed to maximize the purchase of material and the sourcing of labour and consultants from among its corporations and citizens, but the project had its own conditions, the main one being for local labour to comprise the majority of the work force. And despite the difficult situation into which he had been inserted, Prof. Persaud said he had agreed to become personally involved, initially at the request of the
prime minister, and then when asked by the 14 villa owners and 17 shareholders to take up the post as executive chairman of a new management committee for the project, because he felt the project could not fail, because it had willing buyers and two of the world’s best luxury real estate brands – Barbados and Four Seasons. He said the villa owners were like a club of people who liked to be in each other’s company, with Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Simon Cowell, Lucien Grainge, who is the chairman and CEO of Universal Music
International, and Sir Philip Green among the most well-known and popular of the group. These people and their friends and business associates who had invested in villas had stood with the project through its difficulties, which Prof. Persaud saw as an immense vote of confidence in both the project itself and Barbados as a whole. “They are buying a dream, a fantastic piece of beach next to their friends.” And while there had been a hiatus due to the need for new financing, he said, “Nobody thinks this project is failing.” • BSJ
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Far from the madding crowd, an oasis on the east coast In little more than a decade, Paul Doyle has transformed the Crane Hotel from a boutique resort into a 220-room complex, with ongoing construction that will bring it to more than 400 over the next few years.
Photo © 2010 The Broad Street Journal
THE VIEW OMG THE VIEW: Paul Doyle (left) and The Crane Resort’s general manager, Mike Phillips, at the poolside railing overlooking Crane Beach
W Paul Doyle
hen Paul Doyle arrived in Barbados in the late 1980s, he probably had no idea that he would become a hotelier, far less own and lead one of the island’s largest hotel and real estate companies. Mr. Doyle came to Barbados to work for an offshore company based here. The Crane, he recalls, “was the second deal.” The property, on which stood the oldest hotel still in operation on the island, was in a “soft receivership,” having been for sale for a long time. Even without its storied past and stunning location on the island’s most easterly point on its most windswept coast, the Crane property was much more than just an old 18-room hotel, as it comprised 40 acres of mostly flat land. Mr. Doyle saw its potential, sold his house in Canada, and made the down payment in 1988. At 101 years old, the historic Crane Hotel would soon enter a process of rebirth and re-development which has made it one of the country’s fastest growing resorts.
Today, the Crane not only has a dozen times the number of rooms it had when Mr. Doyle purchased it, but its own ‘village’, a collection of purpose-built buildings featuring attractive highlights of plantation and business houses of 19th century Bridgetown, which acts as a magnet to bring guests from all over the increasingly spread out accommodations into one area for shopping, recreation and dining. When it opened in 1887, the hotel took its name from the bay which it overlooked from its majestic cliff side. Long before, because there were no good roads from the east coast to Bridgetown, a crane had been placed on the bluff overlooking the middle of the bay and was used to deposit the hogsheads containing sugar and molasses from the plantations in the area onto schooners, which then sailed around the south of the island and into Carlisle Bay. But even by the late 1900s, when motor transport became ubiquitous on the island and good roads actually went right by the Crane
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nt of Doyle stands in fro VILLAGE PUB: Paul The in gs time” buildin one of the new “old 87, 18 r Ba g in one hous Crane Village, this ened. op st fir e an Cr e ar th named after the ye Continued from previous page
Hotel’s entrance, it retained its image as being away from the centre of things. In an early January interview with Mr. Doyle on the recent history and future development plans he has for the resort, I suggested to him that he had proven his ability to make being “away from it all” the main reason why people stay at the Crane. His reply was, “Well, there are people who love to be where the action is, and people who want to be as far away as they can be, and we cater to the latter.” Mr. Doyle also explained how he changed the long-established rules of selling timeshare in order to pass on savings to clients, restated his continuing interest in acquiring the distressed Sam Lord’s Castle property nearby, and outlined his plans to build a new villa resort on 50 acres of recently-acquired land between Skeete’s Bay and Culpepper Island for people “really want to get away from it all.” Here are some excerpts from the interview: Q: It seems that over the past few years there has been a marked increase in expansion at the Crane. Is this the case, or are we only now becoming more aware of it? A: We’ve been building now for the last 12 years, but it has accelerated somewhat in the last five years due to (demand). Our business model is that we do our
RESORT EX PANSION: A block of un currently g its oing up in the space en being built at the Cra ne, one of se circled by th veral e entry/exit road.
own construction, our own designs, everything is in-house, which allows us to move as business warrants. Q: Apart from swapping weeks with properties in other countries through your membership in RCI, how else can purchasers benefit from buying timeshare at the Crane? A: We do an internal exchange which is very popular – people have the right to certain weeks which they can easily swap for other weeks. So we have people doing a lot of that. Probably nine out of ten exchanges are for different times here instead of going somewhere else. Members also trade their time at the Crane through RCI’s Registry Collection, which comprises about 150 luxury fractional resorts. We are also getting a lot of Barbadians as owners, which surprised me. I thought when I started this that the Barbadians would be all traders, and while there are some who bought only to trade (for time at other resorts abroad), most who bought do come (to stay here). You can leave your home in Christ Church or the west coast and half an hour later you’re here – there’s no customs or security or body scans – and when you’re here you’re
a million miles from home. Q: How were you able to overcome many of the negative associated with timeshare sales worldwide and make it a cornerstone of your success? A: When I started in the business we had a couple of traditional timeshare people who sold in the way that they knew: You try to get people to come, they get a gift if they do, the price is extremely negotiable, but you have to buy today or you don’t get the good price. And one Saturday it happened that I was here in the morning and no one else was, and a couple came in and asked me about it and I said, ‘Look, I’ve never done this before but I’m happy to show you around. But I also said that half of what we collect is typically (paid out in) sales commission and marketing costs, so if you buy today its half price, because I’m the owner and I’ve not paid anyone to bring you here and I’m not going to take a commission.’ They ended up buying four weeks from me, and it was easy. They were very happy, and later someone came and asked for the same deal. So in one day I sold more than we would typically do back then in
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two or three months. And I made the decision right there that I’m just going to do this from now on – the price was great, it was also a fixed price. I didn’t negotiate because it was already half. And we became the first timeshare sales organization anywhere, I think, to make it a straight deal – if you like it, please buy it, but if you don’t, no problem. Sales went up very strongly, so I just ended up doing all the sales myself. It was hard work, but it paid off. Q: Locals who have stayed at the Crane have told me about the stately quality of the rooms, which are also packed with all the amenities and built with the best materials. How have you been able to put so much into your units? A: Although we were selling out we still had another 38 acres, so we said, where do we go from here? Obviously, we planned to build more, but I realized that the people who ended up buying here did so not only because of the price. They loved the location, the old history, the beach, the ambience, the breeze, the great rooms. So I made the marketing decision that rather than selling at half of other people’s prices, I would rather be the same price, but double the value, and then design the new rooms with everything we could think of that people would like. So they’re larger, have higher ceilings and swimming pools, and just every amenity I could think of was put into the rooms. And I was still able to sell under the price that other people sold for. In the timeshare industry, the average sales and marketing costs total 58% (of the selling price). We basically did our sales from an article in Inns & Outs of Barbados and the odd ad in some of the tourist publications, and it worked fine for us. It turns out people really respond to just using their own head, knowing a good deal when they see it and buying. Q: How do Barbadians approach buying timeshare at the Crane? What do they look for? A: Barbadians will generally buy summer, because with RCI, summer is given peak season points,(at the same level as) February and higher than January, but at half the price. So from an exchange point of view, Barbadians will typically buy summer, and actually, we are a lot nicer here (on the east coast) in the summer than the west or south coasts in the summertime because of the breeze. Q: If you bought four weeks in the summer, what kind of price are you looking at? A: Maybe US$40,000 to US$50,000. And you can trade some of it internally to use at other times of the year. Q: Do you see a bright future, industry-wide, for timeshare, or fractional, selling? A: Fractional developments have really taken off, and I think in tougher times people will say, ‘Do I buy a $2 million vacation home because I want to use it for four weeks and then have to deal with it for the other 48 weeks, or do I buy the four weeks and call it a day? So for a lot of people it makes good economic sense and they buy a place that works for them, and now the
VILLAGE LIFE: Guests stroll around the new “village” in the heart of the resort.
fractional ownership can be very luxurious. Q: How do you keep costs manageable at the Crane? A: We do a lot of things that others would farm out to other companies. We do it ourselves to keep the costs down, so for example, every plant you see was propagated here. We do our own landscaping, our own laundry, and all our own maintenance. We also have a large gas chiller instead of an air-conditioning plant, which is far more efficient and less costly than electrical split systems. Q: What is the part of your job that you like to do the most? A: My personal love above all is the architectural side, so I get involved in every aspect of design. Q: You have several buildings currently under construction. Aren’t you worried about over-supply? A: Well, I may be naïve, or optimistic, but the way I view our market is, it’s the world, and when you view the world as your market, I can’t believe that we will ever have over supply. We market extensively in England, Canada and the United States. Q: Are people bothered by buying further and further away from the cliff? A: We gave this a lot of thought, because we’ve got a lot of property that is away from the cliff, so what we decided to do was to provide a lot more amenities. So basically, for the same
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price, for giving up your view from the cliff and accepting a lesser sea view, although you still can in most cases see the sea, you get more (features). For example, there will be seven blocks, two of which will be three stories and the rest two stories. All the units on the top floor will have access to the roof deck, which will have a swimming pool, a private sundeck, a barbecue, and a little landscape garden. And if you’re on the ground floor, you get your own garden, a large swimming pool, a hot tub, a dining gazebo, and two bedrooms. It’s your own private space. These units are the same price as a one-bedroom unit directly on the sea. (As a matter of fact) a lot of people recently have been trading their sea views for more amenities in the back, particularly the people who come for a long time, say 8 to 10 weeks. They don’t need to be looking at the sea the whole time, because they’re actually not in their rooms, they’re out and about. So I think it’s a good business for us when people don’t agree which is the best. So we absolutely confident that, based on sales, what we call the residences in the park, will sell and rent very well. Q: What level of staffing is needed to service both timeshare owners and hotel guests? A: Whether it’s members or guests using the facilities, it doesn’t matter to us as everybody gets the same level of services. So for our rooms today we keep about 350 employees on staff, and that will grow to six or seven hundred based on the restaurants and other things we do (as time goes on), and that’s not counting our construction employees. Q: How have sales fared amid this global recession, which as hit tourism especially hard? A: Our bookings actually went up last year about 11% and we’re well up again for 2010. As far as sales are concerned, we not only sell fractionals, that is, by the week, but we also sell a quartershare, where people buy a quarter of the unit throughout the year, and whole ownership. The whole ownership has been a very large part of our sales, as people buy that for the rental pool. If it’s in the park, a unit is around US$850,000, and if it’s on the sea, from US$1.3m to US$1.7m. So that was over half of our sales, but since the great recession started those sales went down, but our fractional sales remained fairly strong. But over the last three or four months business has been good on all fronts. Q: What is the total number of rooms you will have when the project is finally completed? A: We will go to 402 keys - that’s counting a two-bedroom unit as two keys, because it could be two different sets of guests who may not know each other. That’s how a hotel would refer to it. We will finish the circle and then add two more blocks over on the far side overlooking Foul Bay. There will be a total of seven in the circle – three are up with one just being finished, and the two others will be finished soon. The other four are two stories only so you almost won’t see them when you drive in. And we’re conscious of not building too much because one of the important attributes we have that people really love about The Crane is that we’re not too crowded.
Q: So all built out the maximum number of guests you could have at any one time at the Crane would be how many? A: 400 keys with, say, two people per room, about 800 people, when we have 100% occupancy. Q: In terms of future expansion, are you interested in acquiring other properties, say, on the east coast? A: Well, I’m on public record as saying that we always wanted to buy Sam Lord’s Castle. We actually had made an offer to buy it at one time which I thought had been accepted but at the last minute I found that it wasn’t and instead (the property) was sold to Clico. And we’ve wanted to buy it ever since. Q: It’s said to be pretty rundown now, though. A: Yes, I think the first thing that needs to be done is to go in and preserve the castle – what can be preserved. It’s a shame and it needs to be done. And if Clico feels they don’t want to continue with the Sam Lord’s project, they are very aware that we would like to put an offer in. For us it’s a perfect opportunity, because we have our own construction team and our own Barbadian architects, and as we finish up here we would like to move our team down the road and continue. It’s something that’s very much on our radar and hopefully it’s something that we get a chance to do when the time is right. In the meantime, we’re also working on another project where we’ve actually acquired land, from Skeete’s Bay to Culpepper and we have 50 acres (the White Haven property). So for the last year-and-a-half I’ve been designing for it – what’s nice about it for development is that it gently slopes up quite high, so we will terrace it and make it very low density in keeping with the east coast. The plan now is that everything is single storey, villa-type accommodation, so everybody has a sea view and swimming pool, very upmarket. The ball’s in our court now re Town Planning and we’re just doing some geo-technical work, and then once we know there are no caves under the ground, we hope to move pretty quickly to obtain permission to build a small number of units while we go through the full planning process for the full resort. It’s the same market as the Crane but for people who really want to get away. Where it‘s different is that Crane is five stories high while this is all single storey and lower density. And I think we also need to be sensitive to the fact that most of the east coast is now is national park and it needs to be preserved for the beauty, and although we’re not in the national park, it has to be built almost as if it was, so nobody will be able to see into it from surrounding houses, and when you’re in it, it won’t feel like a typical tourist area. You’ll just feel like you’re in your own little beach house. Q: You have also had a lot of success with your restaurants, notably Zen, which has placed near the top of the Zagat ratings lists for the past three years, including No. 1 for Food. L’Azure is also in the top five. A: L’Azure’s menu has been entirely redone. When Aqua Restaurant (at Hastings) closed, we ended up hiring about 20 of their staff, frankly because they had a great menu. We started from that point of view and basically took a lot of what they had achieved and have been developing it from there. We’re getting great reviews in L’Azure. Continued on page 8
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Zen’s ambience is like your neighborhood bar, with friends meeting up and so on. What we’ve also tried to do is keep our prices reasonable. In L’Azure we have a standard now that you can have your appetizer, main course, dessert and glass of wine now for $105 including VAT, and it’s a great menu. And before we would have charged a lot more for that. We are also opening up three new restaurants in the near future. D’Onofrio’s Italian Restaurant will open in late February in the Crane Village’s town square. There’s going to be a lot of outdoor dining with tables and big umbrellas and flower boxes surrounding the tables, so you can eat both inside and outside the restaurant. And then across the way we’re going to do a grill – a simpler menu, because we get families that don’t want to do fine dining all of the time. And then there will also be a Bajan restaurant – when people come to Barbados for a week they need to have the chance to enjoy traditional Bajan food. Q: Do you also encourage people to get around and see more of the island? A: Yes, but more and more, people aren’t going as much because they really come to read and relax. Q: But the Crane is not all-inclusive, is it? A: No, I felt that we almost need to earn their business every day, and even though people might dine with us a lot, they have the option to go wherever they want. And they also have kitchens in the rooms, so a lot of people would prefer to have toast and coffee on their balcony than come down to the restaurant. We also have our own grocery story (in the Crane Village) or they can go to the supermarket. These people come to relax and we appreciate the fact that if they don’t want to go around the island they don’t have to. On the other hand, Barbados is a wonderful place and we want to encourage them to drive around the island, particularly up the east coast, and our concierges are always recommending other restaurants.
CRANE LIFE: One of the completed buildings at the Crane Resort.
Q: Are you positive about Barbados’ future in tourism? A: Tourism in the world will come back and Barbados is going to get its share. I have great confidence in the ministry of tourism and the BTA. Paul and his wife Nuly have four children, three still in school and one who just graduated. • BSJ
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The Broad Street Journal • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 • Page 9
oughly $140 million. That’s the deficit the Thompson administration envisages incurring in fiscal years in the future. We arrived at that magical figure based on Dr. David Estwick’s statement last week to the effect that government was hoping to achieve a deficit in the region of 2.1 per cent of the island’s gross domestic product. With GDP last year estimated at $6.7 billion by the Central Bank of Barbados, 2.1% works out to be around $140 million. The government has some way to go to achieve this, as the Thompson administration has run up deficits in its first two years in office totalling a billion dollars ($455 million in Year 1, $565 million in Year 2, according to the Central Bank document “The Barbados Economy in 2009 and Prospects for 2010” at page 4). The economic performance to which the Thompson administration now says it aspires seems a lot like the one the Arthur administration actually achieved in many of the years of its decade and a half in office. For, apart from the fiscal deficit of just over 2%, which Mr. Arthur liked to refer to as “sustainable,” Dr. Estwick also dreams of an economy in which unemployment is kept in single digits, and the economy “strong” and the exchange rate “fixed” by “ensuring that foreign exchange reserves remained at adequate levels,” according to the BGIS report. Dr. Estwick, who was speaking to a meeting of a local business association, was only echoing equally agreeable economic aspirations put forward by the prime minster and minister of finance the previous week. Addressing the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Mr. Thompson said his administration would soon unveil a plan to return the country to the Arthur-esque era of 3% annual growth in GDP. Mr. Thompson said the new plan would soon be rolled out by his finance ministry and Dr. Estwick’s economic affairs ministry, and that 2010 would feature “a new departure for Barbados’ economy.” This miraculous plan would not only balance the fiscal budget by 2014 but create a surplus the following year. Un-
A spoonful of sugar editorial
fortunately, apart from programmes and incentives to encourage entrepreneurship, including a plan dusted off from the DLP manifesto to give small businesses up to 40% of government procurement of goods and services, not many other details of the plan were reported by the press. We are all therefore awaiting the details to be made known, and we assume the build-up will continue in order to get us all primed for the Budget Speech, expected sometime in the next few months, when all will no doubt be revealed. But one always feels a little skeptical when poetic phrases are used to suggest a plan’s intentions. Thus, when we learn that Dr. Estwick’s ministry’s plan, which he says the government fully supports, is titled, “A Fully Developed and PeopleCentered Society, through New Development Pathways,” we really start to worry. People-centred? Pathways? There are only three things we can do to get out of the economic mess we are in, and only two of them are directly in the control of the government: reducing spending and increasing taxes. Measures designed to accomplish both of these goals all have their pros and cons. The third and really only long-term way is to
earn more foreign exchange. The government does have a large role to play in this, not only through tourism and offshore sector marketing, but also in providing incentives to these vital industries and in making the island’s infrastructure more visitor-friendly. But the recent significant decline in our foreign exchange earnings is not the administration’s doing. The world is in a global recession and tourism is one of the major casualties. Everybody knows this, so for Mr. Thompson and Dr. Estwick to tell us about some “new departure” for the country seems more like code for something else, and we wonder: Are they offering this rosy picture for the man-in-the-street as sugar-coating for the bitterness of the real medicine to follow? As we learned from Mary Poppins, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.” • BSJ
The Broad Street Journal Established 1993 • Barbados Editor: Patrick R. Hoyos Published weekly in PDF format by Hoyos Publishing Inc. Boarded Hall House, Boarded Hall, St. George Tel: 230-5687 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org © 2010 Hoyos Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.
The Broad Street Journal • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 • Page 10
he opening of The Coffee Bean at Peronne Village in January this year brought to four the number of stores operated by the locally-owned Coffee Bean Inc., and capped nearly a decade of steady expansion. Raymond Gill, his wife Sheena and Ray Chee-a-tow opened the first Coffee Bean outlet in Warrens West Centre in December 2002, and it immediately became a hit, especially with executives in the fastgrowing Warrens commercial centre. The new venture combined its offering of the full range of coffee beverages with salads and sandwiches in an upscale setting. A few months later, in 2003, Raymond’s sister, Michelle Gill Leonel, returned to Barbados from Brazil after an eleven-year stint working with Simpson Inc.’s Brazilian subsidiary, and she brought back a love for the international ambience she had found on Rio’s restaurant scene. “Brazil is very international,” she told The Broad Street Journal. “There are different cultures all around you. I wanted to bring a bit of that international feel here.” Michelle and her the Brazilian-born husband Ramon, a coffee aficionado himself, joined the company, with Michelle taking up the post of managing director. Responding to customer demand, the Coffee Bean began to expand its menu, and also to consider opening a new outlet.
Coffee Bean Inc.’s CEO Michelle Gill Leonel (second left) with staffers at Peronne Village.
Much more than coffee at The Coffee Bean
island of the
The bistro’s quick-service gourmet-style food has made it a hit with the lunch crowd. And the coffee is also gre-e-at!
“After Warrens started to do well we decided to open a second store, this time at Hastings in 2005,” Michelle recalls. Apart from the bistro itself, the offices of Coffee Bean Inc. and its main kitchen are located there, in
SALAD DAYS: Enjoying a light lunch at The Coffee Bean.
the Chattel Plaza. “We make everything in our Hastings kitchen fresh every day,” she notes, and having the expanded facilities allowed the company to further expand the menu, adding wraps and homemade soup, including what has become one of The Coffee Bean’s specialties, Trini Corn Soup. “We also make our own pasta fresh every day and our own pasta sauces,” she says, adding, “Nothing comes out of a bottle.” Also in 2005 came an invitation to open a Coffee Bean outlet inside Pages Bookstore at Cave Shepherd on Broad Street and so, within six months of opening at Hastings, “We pioneered the Coffee Bean Express at Pages,” recalls Michelle. The word Express was tacked on because the lack of extractor fans there meant that a full service was not possible. “So although we are not offering all of our products, like grilled items, we do have wraps and pastas, along with sandwiches” at Pages, she points out. Of their newest bistro at Peronne Village, located behind Big B Supercentre,
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The Broad Street Journal • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 • Page 11
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Michelle says, “We weren’t planning to open No. 4, but when I saw the location I was swayed,” says Michelle. “I thought the setting was different, like an oasis, away from the hustle and bustle” of the busy south coast. The Coffee Bean at Peronne Village is the largest outlet of all four, with several tables indoor as well as many more on a large verandah in the centre of the village. Michelle says the outlet is attracting business patrons from as far away as Wild ey, which in itself is not surprising, as the Hastings outlet attracts patrons from offices in Belleville and Collymore Rock. Due to individual requests from customers, the company has also been selling its sauces
‘Café art’ looks easy at The Coffee Bean. Below: The menu is always on the chalkboard. for use at home, and there are plans to step up the bottling to include all of its salad dressings - Caesar, Greek, Gourmet and Garden - and then adding its pesto and Alfredo sauces as well, under the Coffee Bean Gourmet brand. However, these products will only be on sale in the bistros, not in supermarkets, at least, not yet. We asked Michelle to sum up The Coffee Bean’s offerings in a phrase. Her reply: “Gourmet-style food in a quick service environment,” adding quickly, “where quality is the
no. 1 priority.” “We also do takeout as people will call in their orders and then send for them. We also do business lunches to order, especially at Warrens,” she adds. Looking to the future, Mi-
chelle says, “When we opened in 2002 we were offering coffee and only a few food options, but customers demanded more food and our menu is still growing.” • BSJ
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Call Pat Hoyos at 230-5687 for reservations The Broad Street Journal • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 • Page 12
Olga made love triumph over class prejudice
Adapted from a Eulogy delivered by Tony Cumberbatch
ur mother Olga Cumberbatch was born in Para, Bra-
zil in 1912. Because of her country of birth, people often suggested this to be the reason for her “Latin” temperament. This, however, was far from true, for she had not a drop of Spanish blood in her body. Her mother, Miriam Taitt was a Bajan who had gone to Brazil, like so many other West Indian men and women at the turn of the century, to work on the rubber plantations, make some money, and hopefully return home. Her father was a Scotsman who was employed on the railroad. Miriam sent Mum home to Barbados at the age of 5. She never saw her mother again. She never knew her father.
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The Broad Street Journal • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 • Page 13
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Rather than return to Barbados, Miriam journeyed to New York and on to Washington DC, where she lived and died. It was only about seven years ago that, through the wonders of the internet, we traced Miriam’s entry into the US. There it was on the Ellis Island website: Miriam Taitt, Para, Brazil, age 39, female, black. Year of entry, 1919. She had 50 dollars. I dare say that 50 dollars was a useful piece of change in 1919. At 90 years old, Mum had finally found her mother. Funny, she didn’t keep the printout. When she came to Barbados, Mum lived in Pavilion Road, Bank Hall, with her aunt (the sister of her mother) and her family, the Innisses. This is where she spent her early years and grew up. Mum would proudly proclaim that the house in which she lived was “behind the Empire Cricket Club wall”, just a stone’s throw from where Frank Worrell grew up. Of course, she had been living there quite a few years before Frank Worrell
Wentie. The trouble was that the Cumberbatches were Spartan Club members. The Innisses were Empire people. Here was this small pocket of Spartanites plumb in the middle of the sea of Empire supporters that surrounded the ground. Anyone knowing the history of the founding of the Empire Club in 1914, and the class prejudice that existed at the time, would recognize that the relationship between Mum and Wentie was not welcomed by either family. However, love prevailed, and they were married in 1937. The union produced four children. First Wallace, who died in 1996. Then me. Then Noel Annette, the Christmas Day baby. Then the baby of the family, Ronnie. We added fourteen grandchildren and twelve great-grands. Our father died in 1959, when Mum was just 47. She soldiered on and took things in stride. She became the matriarch of a large and loving family. She, of course, loved and was proud of her children.
Anyone knowing the history of the founding of the Empire Club in 1914, and the class prejudice that existed at the time, would recognize that the relationship between Mum and Wentie was not welcomed by either family. was born – in 1924! But, you have to excuse the claim to fame. Mum was taken out of school at the age of 14 and sent out to work - at a hardware store in Bridgetown. Thus began her working life, which included several stints as a sales assistant in Bridgetown stores. She retired in 1975 as a clerical assistant at Barbados Rediffusion Service Limited. The Inniss home was right next door to the Cumberbatch family home. Mum fell for one of the Cumberbatch boys –
She worried hard and worked harder to supplement the family budget to make sure that we were comfortable. She was always there for us, often in difficult times. Later, she was happy to do the same for her grandchildren. Anyone of them visiting her was always sure to get a little “something” put in their hands. If it is true that a rolling stone gathers no moss, then Mum would have been squeaky clean, for she certainly had her share of moving around in her lifetime. I can think of at
CIRCLE OF LOVE: Olga’s husband Wentie with their kids (from left) Tony, Annette and Wallace. Ronnie would later add to the circle. least fifteen locations that we lived. She lived with Wallace and Olwen at Prior Park, and she also spent some time at my home. There were periods when she lived overseas, with Annette and Grell in London, and in Paris. She also had extended vacations in Canada and in New York, with family and friends. If there was anything “Latin” about Mum, it was perhaps in her appearance. She was a good looker, and certainly had her share of admirers in her day. She thought young, and always looked to be twenty years younger than she really was. When she was 70 she looked 50. It was only after in her eighties when she had an unfortunate fall, broke her leg was laid up for over three months, that she then began to show her age. Even then she remained passionate about her appearance. Mum loved life and lived life. Her mantra was to get up every day and do something. A role
The Broad Street Journal • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 • Page 14
model indeed on how to face every day with vigor and zest – and a smile. She also took pride in being “with it” and followed closely West Indies cricket. She followed politics, Barbadian or US; and even was even hip on current technology. About a year ago she asked me if I would skype Annette so that she could shoot the breeze. Skypeing at 96. We will miss all that. Most of all, we will miss her magnificent memory, that stayed with her almost to the end. We all depended on her for dates and phone numbers. She loved to reminisce. She was the one we turned to for information on people and events of times gone by, or settling arguments. Whatever the subject: politics, cricket, life, she was on the ball, with every detail. She liked hearing a joke, and liked to laugh. That’s gone, but we will remember Mum and her regal smile. • BSJ
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The Broad Street Journal • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 • Page 15