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Upgrade for two hotels

Shawn Cumberbatch

Upgrade for two hotels

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​Amid continued concern that the majority of Barbados’ hotel plant is “tired”, two sister properties on the West Coast are preparing to undergo major makeovers.

Settlers Beach Hotel is scheduled to close when the next winter season ends in April.

Management has announced that when it reopens in “mid 2016”, the current 22-bedroom villa hotel built in the 1960s would have been transformed into a multimillion-dollar luxurious redevelopment” featuring 12 villas and called Settlers Barbados.

The O’Hara and Capaldi families, who are also involved in another St James property – Coral Reef Club – are also planning to close The Sandpiper hotel from April 17 until November 1 next year so that “several exciting renovation projects” can be undertaken at this third sister property.

While the existing villa hotel is still in operation, the new Settlers three- to five-bedroom beachfront villas are for sale with prices reportedly ranging from $13 million to $19 million. A “reception building”, including a private gym, is also included in the construction plans.

Sources told the BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY local architecture firm Gillespie & Steel and Associates designed the new villa project, which was initially planned to start last year but had to be postponed because of a failure to get Town & Country Development Planning Office approval in time.

Settlers’ regular guests had been notified of the delay last year in a message from general manager Vanessa Sumpter.

“Settlers Beach had a wonderful season 2012 and [is] looking forward to sharing time with you all again for 2013. We will operate with reduced services in the summer between 1st May to 31st August 2013 and offer a special rate during this time . . . . The hotel will return to full services on 18th October 2013,” Sumpter told them.

In recent years, in addition to reduced business from major source markets, authorities have blamed the island’s tourism decline on factors that include the closure of several hotels, and the “tired” existing room stock.

However, a number of hotel operations have countered that finding funding to pay for improvements in a depressed market and economic recession was difficult.

The tourism sector is expected to receive a substantial boost when hotel group Sandals reopens its Christ Church property in January following $130 million in improvements.

Sandals is also planning to construct a Beaches hotel on the site of the existing Almond property at Heywoods, St Peter.

Government also recently announced that the historic Sam Lord’s Castle would be transformed into a $400 million, 450-room hotel.