Lone Star to shine brighter
British multi-millionaire David Whelan, 76, became the new owner of the Lone Star Hotel and Restaurant last week after purchasing the west coast property for over US$13 million (BDS$26 million).
The former footballer and businessman, who has been visiting the island for nearly 40 years, told the BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that over the coming months he would be investing over £1 million (BDS$3 million) to enhance the ocean front boutique hotel.
Whelan described the location as “simply stunning”, adding that he would ensure any changes do not damage the ambience.
At present the property has five rooms and a staff of 40.
“We would like to make that into 20 or more rooms but we have to wait for planning and various things,” Whelan, the owner of English Premier League club Wigan, said. “There will be some changes in the restaurant. Nothing dramatic but there will be changes. I am going to invest money into this hotel and restaurant. We are going to refurbish the kitchen completely. We may have to spend something towards a million pounds,” he said.
Whelan said he had an interest in developing the hospitality and service industries here and would therefore be providing opportunities for young Barbadians.
“I want to get more youngsters involved in the business of catering [and] cooking . . . . Each staff I would like to give the opportunity to work in a hotel in England. There is an awful lot to learn. I want to create as many brilliant young chefs as I can who can serve Barbados in the tourism industry,” he said.
Whelan said he expected to see some measurable growth in the hospitality industry on the island, adding that Barbados was getting “more popular every year” among the British.
“Barbados to me stood up very well in this [economic] depression we’ve had across the world,” he added. “I am amazed how well it stood up. This is probably the longest recession I have experienced and I think Barbados has stood up to it remarkably well.
“What we have to do is keep upgrading. We have to pay attention to providing quality food that the [visitors] need when they get on the island. I think there will have to be improvement all around and the island is up for it,” he said.
Whelan said while they would be importing some high-end and specialty products such as lobsters and beef, they would ensure that they utilise a lot of local items.
He officially started operations last Thursday. The businessman said the transition had been “quite smooth”.
Whelan, who was worth an estimated £190 million in 2009, is the owner of the St Brelade’s Bay Hotel in the Channel Islands and a network of gyms across Britain. He said he had no idea he would have invested in a restaurant in Barbados.
“This is a really exciting prospect,” he said. “When I come here it is usually on holiday but wherever I go I can’t stop looking at something to do; business. I just heard it was on the market and I [purchased it],” he said.
The previous owner of the Lone Star property was British actor Christian Roberts.