Thursday, January 13, 2011

Is Almond Beach Village Closing?

The newest block at Almond Beach Village Resort

In yet another sign that all is not well in the tourism business despite the recent upbeat forecasts on Barbados tourism coming from the Central Bank, the Ministry of Tourism and the media which could all be just another smokescreen to cover up the dire reality, rumours circulating in Speightstown are that one of the major players on the west coast is about to close up shop.  There is no question that Almonds Resorts is struggling terribly, particularly its flagship property in Haywood, St. Peter - Almond Beach Village.  At what supposedly is the height of the tourist (winter) season ABV just had a major staff layoff and occupancy is hovering around 300 at a property accustomed to hosting well over a thousand guests at this time of year - even having to walk some customers next door to Port St. Charles and other nearby hotels when business was really booming.

Lately they have had problems paying staff (on time) and settling debts with suppliers.  There is a rumour that they have stopped taking bookings and that the hotel will shortly be closed for renovations.  Why you would want to do something like that at the height of the season boggles the mind.  However, we do know that the owners (the Trinidadian firm Neal & Massey) are in town and the fireworks have begun.  One rumour is that CEO Ralph Taylor (who is also chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority) has already been "reassigned," whatever that means.  Apparently, he is being blamed for under-performing properties in St. Lucia (particularly Almond Smugglers Cove) and stretching the company too thin with the acquisition of the Casuarina Hotel on the south coast which some have described as a "money pit."

People who have been watching Almond Beach Village over the years are saying they have never seen things there looking so dreadful and have concluded that some kind of shutdown is imminent.  The Trinidadians are still in their slash and burn mood having recently axed Warrens Motors from the portfolio of companies (including Almond Beach Resorts) which they acquired a few years ago with their purchase of Barbados Shipping & Trading.  A sale of ABV or indeed all Almond resorts could be in the works.  The rumour mill is turning and the truth must come out soon or this can begin to damage the Barbados brand which is something the Trinidadians might not care about - at least not as much as Bajans.

9 comments:

  1. Has anyone passed by Almond Beach in Heywoods recently? I pass there almost every day , the grounds look unkempt. They expect people to come and stay there and play golf with the grounds looking like a jungle. Vines overgrowing the trees, wild tamarisk trees have sprung up every where, the ponds are now completely covered by bush. This has been so for several years. It is in a very poor state. I was wondering why the Ministry of Health don’t do something and condemn the place.

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  2. Update:

    Almond confirms that it is facing serious financial challenges in a
    response to the West Coast Blog just when a disturbing new video of their environmental practices surfaced on the Internet.

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  3. "A rough 2010 has torpedoed the profits of Barbados’ largest group of companies.

    Barbados Shipping & Trading suffered a $30.4 million slump in its earnings last year and now its management is also predicting a “challenging” 2011.

    BS&T, which is owned by Trinidad and Tobago’s Neal & Massy Group, saw its net income sinking from $37 million in 2009 to $6.6 million by the time its financial year ended last September.

    And it has mainly to do with the severe financial problems facing subsidiary Almond Resorts Inc., which lost more than $20 million last year..."

    - read more -

    Source: Barbados Today

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  4. Anything going on with the Divi Heritage?

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  5. It has taken two and a half months but what Almond said to The Nation yesterday sounds more and more like confirmation of most of what this blogger said above. It is also abundantly clear too that Ralph Taylor's job is on the line, especially now that government has recently let him go from the Barbados Tourism Authority.

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  6. The Trinidad owners of struggling homegrown Barbadian hotel chain Almond Resorts Inc are in discussions with several high-powered investors to finalise a deal that could see two of its properties sold.
    Barbados TODAY understands that well-known Jamaican hotelier Gordon “Butch” Stewart, founder of Sandals Resorts, and representatives of the Elegant Hotels Group, are among those who have been having talks with senior management of regional conglomerate Neal & Massy Holdings.
    The Trinidad and Tobago company is the overall owner of Almond, by virtue of its controlling interest in Barbadian enterprise Barbados Shipping & Trading, which holds the majority shares in the tourism group.
    Major concern surrounds the future of Almond’s two oldest properties, its long-standing flagship the 395-room Almond Beach Village, at Heywoods, St. Peter and the 161-room Almond Beach Club and Spa, at Vauxhall, St. James.
    Both are in need of multi-million dollar upgrades and have been largely blamed for the  $20 million loss the business suffered last year, and an additional $2.75 million for the six-month period ended March 31, 2011.
    Speaking this evening during a telephone interview from Trinidad, Neal & Massy Group Chief Executive Officer, Gervase Warner, confirmed his organisation was “in the process of looking for investors for the two properties, which are in need of upgrade”.
    “We, as a majority investor, have put a lot of money into the company over the course of the last two years but they have incurred substantial operational losses as you would have seen in the annual reports,” he noted.
    “The cash to fund these losses have largely come from Neal & Massy extending a credit from the banks. The way that we see it we can’t borrow more money for these upgrades and we are looking to get some investors, who would be interested in working on these properties, and assessing the value and the investments in these properties. So those discussions have started and they are ongoing.”
    While saying that those involved were wary of “speculative commentary” to make concerned workers at the hotels more fearful and uncertain, as well as make guests anxious, the official also said that some of the investors had walked away from the discussions because the deal was not what they were looking for.
    But he also disclosed that there were a number of those remaining that had voiced interest in acquiring the Village and Club outright…”

    Read more: Barbados Today

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  7. I visited ABV in 2009.
    When I came back to Canada I would say to anybody who would listen it was the "resort from hell" In a nutshell it was dirty smelly and in disrepair. The staff were great considering they were working in an environment that was not appealing.
    I notice it is no longer on Trip Advisor. I suspect it has now been shut down. ..GOOD

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  8. Nice posting "beach product " .. This is the first time I have come across your-site. Post info, I’ll be back soon. Thanks!

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