Thursday 23 March 2017

Luxury resort plans back on track

Prime minister of Barbados pushes through additional e42m finance facility in bid to get holiday homes at Clearwater Bay completed by 2011

WORK is due to recommence any day soon after months of delays at the luxury villa resort at Clearwater Bay in Barbados where Tullow Oil chief Aidan Heavey, former F1 racing boss Eddie Jordan and TV and music supremo Simon Cowell have all bought holiday homes.

Pitched as a rival to Dermot Desmond and John Magnier's Sandy Lane resort, the scheme only got back on track when a failed attempt to secure a refinancing package from private investors prompted the Caribbean island's prime minister, David Thompson to intervene.

He has now helped to push through an additional €42m financing facility from a Caribbean merchant bank and its Barbados affiliate, in a bid to get villas such as Cowell's completed by 2011.

The developers behind the €330m resort -- British hotel entrepreneurs Michael Pemberton and Robin Paterson and joint venture partners the Four Seasons hotel group -- plan to bring a UK construction firm on board to manage the scheme, which is being "revised to provide optimum use of the land, whilst ensuring that all of the original facilities are retained".

Floor plans for seven unsold villas in the resort give an insight into how the other half spend their downtime, with €7m buying you a five-bed miniature palace with a dining pavilion, dining terrace and a 19-metre by 4.6-metre swimming pool.

Your €12m, meanwhile gets you a larger six-bed pile, complete with your own bar, gym, TV room, wine cellar, pool terrace and breakfast terrace. There are four ponds throughout these more expensive properties, each of which has a weir at one edge, as does the swimming pool.

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AS zombie hotels struggle to stave off liquidation and wait for NAMA -- to the detriment of solvent, well-established hotel businesses -- there has been "a modest amount of interest" in suitable properties in Ireland from low-cost hotel operators, according to one senior property source.

Although liquidators are currently selling two Irish hotels at the moment, one in Cahirciveen, Co Kerry, and another in Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, nothing suitable for a low-cost operator has yet come to the market.

The easyHotel chain, part of the same group as Stelios Haji-Ioannou's easyJet airline, is the most visible low-cost operator currently on the expansion trail -- mainly in Europe.

While the uncertainty remains over what effect NAMA will have on the sector, and the valuations of any hotel properties, they are unlikely to buy anything, the source added. Irish hotels have an overcapacity of about 15 per cent according to tourism minister Martin Cullen, while 154 hospitality businesses became insolvent last year according to CSO figures.

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HOUSEHOLDERS who were flooded this winter, and residents of Dublin's Ringsend -- some of whose homes were underwater in 2002 and again last summer -- must wonder if the infamous Irish Glass Bottle site is worth even the €50m that is being reported as its current valuation.

A local residents' association made the point that the 25-acre site lies precariously on a flood plain shortly after Bernard McNamara paid the record-breaking price of €412m for it in 2006. Local Labour TD Joanna Tuffy also raised the point again in an Oireachtas debate over the DDDA Bill last December.

Sunday Independent

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