There are increasing signs of disrepair at Buccament Bay Resort, seen here in mid June 2018. (iWN photo)

The Buccament Bay Resort, which has been closed since December 2016, will not reopen this year, as the government had hoped.

“… the legal work is moving slower than he would have wished,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday.

“It’s clear now that even if they don’t complete within the next couple of weeks — they keep putting back these deadlines — that the place would not be opened for December.”

The prime minister noted that he had said earlier this year that he would be disappointed if the resort does not reopen for December.

“And I am disappointed.”

Gonsalves noted that Opposition Leader Godwin Friday had asked him in Parliament if, by saying he would be disappointed if the resort does not reopen by year end, he was saying that he expected the resort to re-open by that time.

“I said I used the word the word disappointed, I know what words mean. And I am saying I am disappointed that — the younger guys in the cabinet wanted me to take it early but I outlined to them that in the circumstances it is better we let it go through this process and then we see. I always say that if it needs be I would come in. The state would come in, but it seems as though they are sorting out the difficulties,” Gonsalves said.

The resort, which has the largest number of rooms of any tourism facility in St. Vincent, was forced to close in December 2016, when the state-owned power company cut its electricity supply over non-payment of bill.

This followed several weeks of protest by workers over the non-payment of wages.

Since then, the government has brought fraud and tax evasion charges against naturalised Vincentian, Britain-born Dave Ames, the main principal behind the resort, who fled the country as prosecutors moved in on him in June 2017.

Buccament Bay Resort during its heyday. (Photo: Harlequin)

Finance minister disappointed too

Meanwhile, at a press conference on Monday Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves expressed disappointment that the resort is yet to open.

“… if you had told me at the beginning of the year that we’d be sitting in October and that rehabilitative work would not yet have commenced, I would have been very surprised,” he said, when asked about the potential impact of the closure of the resort on the nation’s fiscal performance.

“I thought we would have been further along in the process,” he said.

There have been raised hopes throughout this year as the government has hinted that the trustee in bankruptcy was closer to signing a deal with a potential new owner of the resort, which is the subject of a number of legal challenges.

The finance minister said:

“The negotiations have been more complex than anticipated, based largely on the situation that the former owners of the resort left it in. There are a number of people claiming ownership of the same villa, there are a number of legal challenges involved.”

He said the prospective purchasers did not want to buy a lawsuit.

“They wanted to resolve these issues in advance,” the finance minister said, adding that the prime minister has always made clear that the government would not stand askance if the need arose for the state to “to play a more active role in facilitating a resolution…

“I think we are very, very close to a resolution. There were conversations as recently as the day before the prime minister left for the United Nations General Assembly [on Sept. 19] that resolved a lot of the outstanding issues. There is an offer on the table between the prospective purchasers and the bankruptcy trustee and I hope that they will respond favourably to that.”

Regarding the impact, the finance minister said that without Buccament Bay Resort, flights from the United Kingdom “are difficult”.

The nation is yet to receive a direct flight from the United Kingdom, an important source point for tourists, since the Argyle International Airport, which opened Feb. 14, 2017, made such direct flights possible.

“Because we need a certain critical mass in terms of rooms to get the transatlantic flights,” the minister said, noting that those transatlantic flights are done with larger aircraft that fly from North America to the Caribbean.

“So the numbers they plug into their equation to make it viable for them and for us, is affected by the number of rooms that Buccament Bay has,” he said, referring to the transatlantic airlines.

He said that if Buccament Bay Resort is not opened on day one of the tourist season this year, he expects that it would be reflected in the United Kingdom and European visitors to SVG.

“It would not affect our North American traffic because historically, North Americans did not stay at that hotel but I do believe it will affect our stay over visitors from the United Kingdom and from Western Europe.”

11 replies on “Buccament resort unlikely to reopen this year”

  1. SVG is in a sad state when it comes to stay over tourism. What is the Ministry of Tourism doing to fix this? You cannot place all your eggs in one basket time to actively seek outside investors to build resorts on the mainland, give them attractive incentives and concessions over an initial 10 year period, this will attract more investors into the pool. We are just too behind in this sector, time to wake up and not only smell the coffee but drink it until ours eyes are wide open.

    1. These kinds of concessions have been given for decades. The mainland is simply not an appealing mass tourism destination.

  2. Surely we know by now that no deadline offered by this government should ever be taken seriously.

    As for flights from England, if these depended on a single 105 room resort, they would never take place. This is because 200 guests for an average 10 day period works out to an average of 20 passengers a day. Therefore a transit through Barbados, as before, would be the only route taken.

    My view is that if the resort ever opens, it would close again after a year or two. At the end of the day, the government would buy it and run it further into the ground.

  3. barbara billia says:

    You can not come to st. vincent via Babados from europe. The Barbados st vincent flight costs as much as the europa barbados route..

    1. Nonsense. When Buccament Bay Resort was open, it negotiated connecting flights from London to SVG via Barbados using LIAT at an economical rate. Essentially, they claimed that the Barbados–SVG leg was “free” because it was included in the all-inclusive price of staying at the resort.

      Apart from that, a one-way flight from London to SVG can be had for under $US 700 which includes the less than $US 200 portion from Barbados to Argyle.

      Barbara Billia, you seem to be suffering from bulimia nervosa.

      1. You are right C. Ben. When I was on a flight from the UK many years ago, I sat next to a lady that was flying with her friends to SVG and they paid less for a week ‘s holiday at Buccament, including flights than I did just for my flight to SVG. I could not believe it.

  4. Buccament was weird right from the start, imported white sand beach. They didn’t hire local people, because of the threat of thefts, so all employees were bused in, and faced security checks as they finished work. Buccament was really expensive, $1,000 US per night. Palm Island can charge that, but they own the whole island. Buccament got good Trip Advisor reviews. I’m a tourist, but $1,000 US is the cost of a month almost on St Vincent. I do a lot of hiking and snorkeling. What I dislike about St Vincent, other then the the incredibly bad infrastructure, your complete lack of info for tourists about hiking trails, is your theft culture. I can’t leave anything on the beach. My studio apartment has to be protected by vicious dogs at night. Bequia is very popular with European tourists, gets much more traffic the main island, much safer, but it is twice the cost of St Vincent per se. Buccament had huge security. Anyone entering the property was immediately met by someone in security. I read a lot of Vincentian news. You live in paradise. Lot of people killed by guns, some chopped. My new friend from Belgium was raped and robbed walking on a highway during the day several years ago. You want tourists? You have to offer a safe place for them.

    1. You are right doud13. It is much deeper than just hiring more police and putting them in the right places. We have to make tremendous changes in our philosophy. We have a bad work ethic, bad management of money, poorly trained and often brutal police, lack of concern for rape victims, and much more.

  5. Wow what a sad state of affairs with with a minister who have no clue about tourism or how it is run and papa making promises he can’t keep .some bad news about SVG always in the news and the world is watching you . The tour companies are being polite but it’s like pulling teeth to get tourists to come to st. Vincent when they hear what is going on in SVG.

    1. Potential tourists are certainly not avoiding the country because of our crime situation; they are avoiding coming here because their perusal of travel sites has shown them that there is very little to do here once they arrive.

  6. All C.ben-David, all 10 of them, talking and answering himself. The word is that C.ben-David is really Peter Binose.

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