Friday, May 06, 2005 - Over $US forty (40) million dollars is to be
pumped into Saint Lucia’s tourism plant in the coming months following a change
in the management and ownership of St. James Club at Choc formerly the Wyndham
On Friday, May 6, 2005 Chairman and Managing Director of Almond Resorts Mr.
Ralph Taylor was on island to announce details of the new plans for the hotel.
He says the new property to be called Almond/Morgan Bay, will benefit from the
strong international branding and quality standards being brought to the table
by Almond Resorts, which is an all inclusive chain.
The new arrangement takes effect on May 31st and will see a brief closure of the
property for major renovations. These, according to Taylor, will include
expanding the facility from its current 240 room capacity to 340 rooms. “We
intend to take the hotel to a different level in terms of the quality of the
product. Major expansions will take place in terms of the central facilities,
adding a number of swimming pools, softening the product by adding gardens and
three main restaurants, boasting French/Creole cuisine, secondly continental
cuisine and the thirdly specializing in seafood,” says Taylor. Other new
amenities which will include a start-of-the-art kid’s play area are designed to
create market buoyancy, and attract a new category of clients to the island.
Taylor says Saint. Lucia was top of the pile in terms of logical choices for
investing outside of Barbados. “When we look at the Eastern Caribbean, we take
Barbados and the rest of the Eastern Caribbean, the next country which in my
mind is going to really penetrate the international market as far as tourism is
concerned is St. Lucia. We did a lot of research on St. Lucia and we like what
we see. We like the fact that St. Lucia has a good work force, the cost of
operation is reasonable and the Government of St. Lucia we have found to be
excellent in terms of the negotiations that we have had with them. The
facilities and incentives that have been offered under the 2007 Cricket World
Cup Act have been outstanding,” says the veteran Caribbean businessman.
The Barbados-based investor says the transition phase will see workers receiving
full severance benefits and other entitlements prior to the closure. Once
operations resume, Taylor says 99% of existing staff if not 100% of workers will
be re-employed with the property once they meet the new recruitment criteria. He
says scores of additional persons will also be employed as the hotel will be
significantly expanded under the renovation and upgrading phase.
The Almond Resorts investment is expected to significantly enhance the foreign
exchange earnings of Saint. Lucia. The company currently operates two major
hotels in Barbados, employing over eight hundred (800) persons and is among a
select small group of companies involved in tourism, publicly traded on the
Barbados Stock exchange.