Govt agrees to sell Savannah Hotel

Agreement has been reached on the sale of the Savannah Hotel at Hastings, Christ Church, one of the two remaining hotels in the Government-owned GEMS of Barbados hotel project.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport Ian Gooding-Edghill announced on Monday that Government had agreed to sell the property “to the highest bidder”. He, however, declined to disclose details of the agreement, saying: “At the appropriate time I will give the country a full update in respect of who won the bid and how much they are going to pay for the property in respect of full disclosure.

 “In transactions like these, you respect investor confidence to the point that I give the House the assurance that we will be communicating via the  appropriate media our divestment of that particular project.”

The disclosure was made during the Ministry of Tourism’s second day in the well of Parliament, as the debate on Estimates and Expenditure for 2024-25 continued in the House of Assembly.

The tourism minister was at the time responding to one of several questions on tourism matters posed by Leader of the Opposition Ralph Thorne.

 Gooding-Edghill said government was in “the final stages” of its divestment programme in respect of Hotel and Resorts Limited, the entity set up in 1995 to oversee the operations of the GEMS hotels. In 2005, shareholders of HRL decided to divest the assets of the company, when there were then five hotels in the portfolio, three of which were later sold. The two remaining hotels are Savannah and Blue Horizon at Rockley, Christ Church.

 Savannah Hotel has been operating under a concessionary arrangement with HRL since 2021, following a nine-month closure between 2020-21.

With regard to Blue Horizon, in a news report in 2018 a company known as Blue Horizons Inc, had been identified as the new developers of the hotel, and Philip Tempro, a director of Blue Horizons Inc, was also reported as saying the company had “agreed to a deal with Government for the Blue Horizons property at Rockley, Christ Church, last year (2019)”.

However, Gooding-Edghill said on Monday requests for Blue Horizon’s purchase were being received.

“Once those requests are evaluated by the board and the board submits a recommendation to the Ministry, obviously that will be given full consideration,” he added. 

Meanwhile the Tourism Minister reported the completion of  “50 per cent” of the GEMS divestment, adding that “the remaining  50 per cent will be completed “within a month or a month-and-a half, once the bids have been properly evaluated and the bids submitted to the board.”

“We have to ensure that we have in Barbados, hotels that are profitable and productive. Those that are doing well are very valuable assets to the Barbados taxpayer and economy,” Gooding-Edghill said.

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