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BARBADOS - real estate

Classy village life

- Monday 02, February-2004 by Wendy Burke

THE TIMESHARE CONCEPT is heading north, as Kings Beach Village, in St Peter, prepares to open this month.

The only hotel property currently offering timeshare in Barbados is the Crane in St Philip.

The 32 villas, just a short distance away from Kings Beach Hotel, have been under construction for the last three years.

The two-bedroom homes, designed by architect Mark Hiorns, had some occupants over the Christmas period but full operation begins later this month.

Martin Richards, owner of the hotel and the villas, said they were built at a cost of more than US$10 million on three-and-a-half acres of land.

The Caribbean-flavoured buildings, which he described as unique with their brilliant colour scheme, wood trim finishes on the windows and doors, and locally-made furniture from Designer Decor, are being offered on a timeshare basis, instead of being sold so that individuals who cannot afford to invest a great deal of money in a villa can still experience the pleasures of owning one, without parting with large sums of money.

“Opening up a time-share opportunity opens the door for a lot of people who don’t necessarily have a huge amount of money to invest. It means they outlay to enjoy what they want to enjoy, which is in essence a holiday, or possibly a small investment opportunity. They won’t have to part with so much money. “In addition to that, they don’t have to tie up their money because Barbados property prices have increased so dramatically over the last few years,” he said. Another reason is that the real estate market is shrinking, especially on the West Coast of the island. He said this purchase option was spread over a longer period.

“The market is becoming smaller as prices go up. On average, a two-bedroom unit, which can accommodate four to six people, we sell for US$25 000 per week over a 40-year term. That means that a family of four is going to be paying less than $240 a week,” Richards told the BUSINESS AUTHORITY.

However, unlike other timeshare properties, the lease arrangement is not going to be in perpetuity, and the holding company would still have interest in the property, as it would revert to them after the 40-year time period as an asset.

“A lot of people ask what happens if we sell all the timeshares. If that means we won’t care anymore. Exactly not, we do care because we are still going to be managing the units for the owners, and more importantly the units would come back to us after the 40 years, so we are going to take care of them.

“That ensures the owners get a good deal all year round,” he explained.

He added that this was good for the island as well, since the owners would always utilise the property or sublet to friends and family, and so arrivals would increase.

Richards has returned to the United Kingdom to begin intense marketing on the property and to release the brochures, but already over 100 people have expressed serious interest in timeshare purchase.

“We have got such a great point of sale here, having a hotel nearby, which is very busy and accommodates the right market for the timeshare. Initially, I would like to start by selling the timeshares myself and marketing it on the island, rather than linking it up to any international realtor.”

The property owner said there were no immediate plans to build more villas. It is his intention now to complete the timeshare sales.

“I don’t want to get too big, I want to keep it special,” he said.

The villas are completely furnished, carry a fridge/freezer, washer/dryer, stove, kitchen utensils, dish washer, built-in wardrobes and cupboards, and all the other modern amenities.

The target market is not geared towards the rich and famous, but the type of guests seen at the three-star hotel, which ranges from managing director to chef.

Richards believes there will be a natural synergy, and guests from the hotel will probably opt to buy into the timeshare villas in the Village, as they visit Barbados every year.

Kings Beach Hotel enjoyed 94 per cent occupancy last week, and is expected to do well for the season.

Richards said the occupancy numbers at his all-inclusive were not affected in the same way as other properties on the island, and what it offered was one of the factors which contributed to its good fortunes.

“Historically, over the last five years, we have had 84 per cent. I think we are one of the most successful West Coast hotels in regard to occupancy. We have the type of product where there isn’t a season as such; more and more people are coming to the island throughout the year,” said the hotelier.

He added that his property did not operate by seasons as such, and a lot of the guests were repeat visitors who come to the hotel all year through.

“We are a very good three-star product. That’s one reason why we are so busy. We offer a fantastic product, a good-value-for-money product and my staff do a great job”

In response to whether he wanted to upgrade from three-star to four-star status, his response was a definite no.

The businessman, who has worked in the field of tourism for the last 25 years, said four-star properties suffered a fate which had not yet impacted on Kings Beach.

“If you look at occupancy generally in Barbados, the four-star product, in pricing, suffers in the summer months, whereas we have a year-round rate,” said Richards.

The property has recently undergone some renovations, which saw a roof, pool deck and restaurant being built.

A state-of-the-art sewerage system is currently being installed.

The hotel presently sources 30 per cent of its direct business through travel companies such as Virgin Holidays of the United Kingdom.

Compliments of the Nation News


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