Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy
Villas are an integral part of Barbados’ tourism product.
This view was expressed today by Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, following an extensive tour of the construction site of the multi-million dollar Four Seasons Private Residences at Paradise Drive, St. Michael.
Minister Sealy said: “… We need new hotel plants in Barbados and that is what I am hearing from our partners both in the UK and North America. So, I think if we are going to bring new hotel plants, this is the type of project we would like to have… There is a high demand for villas because there is a market out there that finds that type of accommodation to be very attractive.”
Referring to families and large groups who may prefer a villa setting as opposed to hotel rooms, Mr. Sealy said: “So we have to also find a place for villas when we plan our accommodation sector going forward, and this project of course has that component.”
While acknowledging that significant progress had been made on the project over the past year, the Tourism Minister spoke of the importance of the brand “Four Seasons” to Barbados. He remarked: “It will do a lot for us as a destination. It is a brand that is highly regarded world-wide, and since we are seen as a quality destination, I think that having a quality brand like Four Seasons will certainly enhance our attractiveness as a destination.”
He added: “I think it is a wonderful project and I think it is also good from a macroeconomic perspective – we need to have jobs. The majority of work that I saw going through this site today is being done by locals and local firms that have been retained to do the work. That is really what it’s all about as well – keeping economic activity going where there is a high degree of local participation.”
Minister Sealy also commented on the effects of the global economic climate on tourism projects and noted that some had been affected. He said Government was currently having discussions with other potential investors to get certain tourism projects off the ground, despite the unsettled world economic situation. He continued: “That is why I think it is important that developers like those responsible for this project, who had a long-standing relationship with Barbados, who are showing confidence, even in these bleak times, that we have to work with them to see that the projects can continue.”
Meanwhile, Mike Pemberton, Founder and co-chairman of Cinnamon 88, the developers for the project, acknowledging that the economic downturn had not affected the sale of villas, said out of the 35 villas that had been planned, work had started on 29, of which 20 had already been sold and several enquiries had been made about the other nine.
He said: “It is rather surprising that we have been as busy this year with the sales office as we were last year, if not probably a little busier. So, it doesn’t seem to affect us. What people tend to find with this development is the security of the Four Seasons brand, because it is a Four Seasons hotel with residences and it is not a block of condominiums. It is a global brand… it is the strongest five-star global brand in the world and people find it very comfortable putting their money into the strength of Four Seasons… and also the destination is very important.”