Couples becomes first Jamaican hotel chain to operate in Barbados
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday January 10, 2013 - Couples Resorts is hoping to succeed where Sandals Resorts tried and failed some decades earlier – to successfully bring a Jamaican hotel brand to Barbados’s shores.
It was revealed recently that Couples has entered into an agreement to lease, with an option to buy in the future, the Almond Casuarina Beach Club, the second largest hotel in Barbados.
This marks Couples' first venture outside of its home market.
Some decades earlier, the acquisitive Sandals Resort chain led by Jamaican tourism magnate Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart had ventured into the Barbados market with the purchase of the now defunct Cunard properties but plans never got off the ground and eventually the property was sold to the developers of the now-stalled Four Season’s project.
A Neal & Massy statement made to the Nation newspaper said Couples would lease the 280-room hotel and operate it as Almond Casuarina until May 31st 2013, following which the hotel will be re-branded as Couples Resorts.
The statement did not specify the lease payments or the period of the lease.
Couples chief executive officer, Glenn Lawrence revealed to the Jamaica Gleaner that the deal was expected to conclude on or before January 31, at which time more details would be forthcoming.
The Montego Bay-headquartered company owns and operates four all-inclusive properties in Jamaica – Couples Tower Isle, Couples Sans Souci, Couples Swept Away and Couples Negril.
This latest announcement comes months after a deal to purchase SuperClubs' Breezes Grand in Negril fell through.
"We see ourselves as a regional brand," said Lawrence. "The opportunity came up through Neal & Massy - we managed to put a deal together that they accepted."
The Barbados resort is held by Casuarina Beach Club Limited, which is owned by Barbados Shipping & Trading Company and Almond Resorts Inc in partnership with Goddard Enterprises Limited. Barbados Shipping and Almond are subsidiaries of Trinidad conglomerate Neal & Massy Holdings Limited.
Neal & Massy Holdings acquired about 51 per cent of Almond Resorts after its takeover of Barbados Shipping and Trading in 2008. Almond Resorts and two other under-performing BS&T companies (Bahamas Supermarkets and Warrens Motors) negatively impacted the Neal & Massy Group’s results in 2010 and 2011 “with total losses to shareholders of $500 million”, according to the Port-of-Spain-headquartered company’s 2011 annual report.
The Barbados resort, which boasts three restaurants, sits on approximately 9.725 acres or 423,639 square feet of predominantly flat land, and is set among a series of tropical gardens spread from the guest blocks to the reception areas. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)