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

By C. ben-David

With the Buccament Resort being reopened under new management … we now have a wonderful platform for increasing our capacity to host visitors to our country (Searchlight newspaper editorial, January 4, 2019).

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UNLESS SOMETHING extraordinary happens between now and the end of April, we can count the reopening of the Buccament Bay Resort (BBR) for the current season as another unfulfilled [Unity Labour Party] political promise” (The Vincentian newspaper editorial, February 8, 2019).

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Two contradictory media views. Which one is correct?

An unknown, inexperienced, and moneyless British developer with a shady past, David Ames, had only partially completed Buccament Bay Resort when it saw a “soft opening” on May 27, 2010. According to his parent company’s press release:

The 368-room resort will be the first from the new hotel brand, Harlequin Hotels & Resorts and is positioned to redefine tourism on the island, creating massive sustainability and growth into the economy and its community.”

Although the planned 1,200 room resort was never subjected to a thorough feasibility study, a feature shared with Argyle airport, it appeared to be successful for its first few years, at least judging from its high occupancy numbers and Harlequin’s huge base of 3,000 investor-owners (now creditors in the assets of the bankrupt enterprise). Thereafter, it descended into financial and legal chaos resulting in its closure less than seven years later on Dec. 14, 2016.

Surely, BBR has redefined tourism on the island as the largest bankruptcy the local industry has ever seen.

Contrary to the uninformed opinion of Searchlight newspaper, the BBR has certainly not “reopened under new management,” at least as of this writing.

This is because the Resort’s financial and legal chaos have proven nearly insurmountable. According to the latest statement (Nov. 6, 2018) from Brian Glasgow, KPMG Bankruptcy Trustee for the more than 2,500 BBR creditors:

At this stage there are no formal resolutions required to be passed by the general body of creditors and therefore the Bankruptcy Trustee will not be holding a meeting [to vote on any resolutions] …. After considering the alternative options available the Trustee commenced negotiations with the most likely purchasers. This led to … the Inspectors … sanction[ing] the Trustee to enter [a non-legally binding] heads of terms [agreement] with the chosen party.

The process has been delayed as there are a number of issues surrounding the legal title to the various plots of land that comprise the resort. In order to sell the resort the Trustee and his legal counsel had to devise various strategies to resolve the issues.

The Trustee and the purchaser [local hotelier Kelly Glass et al.] have had detailed discussions with the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as they are a major stakeholder in the opening of the resort as well as legal owner to critical plots of resort land. The Trustee entered into a heads of terms agreement with the prospective purchaser on, October 16, 2018…. [and] will now continue to work with the purchaser and his legal advisers and hopes to be in a position to complete a sale with the purchaser before December 31, 2018.”

Dec. 31 has past, David Ames is currently facing criminal prosecution in England for fraud regarding his Harlequin shenanigans that, along with multi-million dollar legal disputes in the United Kingdom with his former contractor, Padraig O’Halloran, and others that may very well permanently sabotage BBR’s sale or hold it up for years, and hypothetical figures presented by Mr. Glasgow suggest that the creditors would receive far less than 10 percent of any investment back if the resort were sold.

Any but the most impecunious of investors would likely reject this amount in a final sale, preferring to see the resort liquidated — distributed in bits and pieces — rather than allowing Kelly Glass et al. and the Government of SVG to benefit from their foolhardy investment decisions.

As for the hundreds of Vincentian workers, contractors, and suppliers who have remained unpaid, they will never receive as much as a farthing in compensation.

In his Feb. 5, 2019 Budget address, Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance, stated that, “Today, the new investment group [Glass et al.] is on board at Buccament.” What he should have said is that rather than being “on board” all relevant parties are very much treading water in a shark infested sea when it comes to this exceedingly complex issue.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

14 replies on “Whatever happened to the reopening of Buccament Bay Resort?”

  1. It was a stupid decision to cut off the power supply. This should have been resolved in a better manner. Now that we have sat on the hot coals we are left nursing the wounds. Talk about greediness and stupidity.

    1. Had the power supply not been cut off the Resort would still now closed because it hardly had any guests at the time because most services and amenities had already been cut or reduced by the Resort itself.

  2. Ben David, you really hate SVG. You are trying your best every day to school us as if you are the most learned person in SVG, with your giant ego trip.

  3. Following the submission of this piece for publication, I noticed the following unequivocal statement in the 2019 Budget Speech from Minister if Finance, the Honorable Camillo Gonsalves:

    “The Buccament Bay Resort … has emerged from the limbo of receivership and now finally has new ownership” (Budget address, February 5, 2019).

    This statement is false, as I have shown above.

    Why the Opposition did not challenge it is incomprehensible.

  4. Kenton, your website keeps getting better and better. Bravo and thank you.

    Nicely covered (again) Mr ben-David.

    BBR is a tragic farce. Its greatest tragedy was that the tragedy was palpable: A slow motion heist in plain sight.

    When a government sends its fully armed paramilitary police – K9s too – to preserve and perpetuate the con (the knave could not even pay wages, how long it was going to drag on was the real question), they, the government, knowingly and willingly became part of the con. And in no small part, either. And a disgrace – in huge part.

    Now, that’s tragedy.

    As if that is not tragic enough, to add insult to injury, the government is looking for kudos for trying to fix a problem they help facilitate.

    Patrick Ferrari

  5. The beach itself is used a lot by cruise ships who bring bus loads of sunworshippers whenever they dock at Kingstown, and in my opinion it’s the finest beach on the island. It’s no longer a white sand beach per se, but I never cared much for that white sand. It would stick to you. The beach gets a lot more use now than when the resort was up and running. The snorkeling is the best I’ve found on the island, and it’s fairly close to Kingstown. That whole valley is a tourist destination with the Vermont Trail in rain forest up river, an historic plantation ruin, and Petroglyphs at the sea. I’ve hiked across the forest from Vermont to Spring Village. I’ve heard there is a waterfall with a pool as impressive as Darkview Falls, just downstream from Tablerock. The government should cut a deal, get it up and running, and develop some of the many tourist attractions nearby. Even the Vermont Trail could be doubled or tripled so there were various trails that tourists could hike on. It could be a whole complex of trails connecting to the Cumberland Trail, which has been abandoned for some reason. It was actually my favourite, although the Parrots don’t like intruders.

    1. 1. If the Resort re-opens, the tourists and residents using it would be confined by law to a tiny trip below the high tide level, as they were when the Resort was operating. They would certainly be banned from all the private areas they are now using.

      2. Our own people are dumping garbage all over the beach and surrounding area, a sign of our painfully indifferent appreciation of our precious and fragile environment.

      3. The white sand at Bucament is less sticky — and far cooler for walking on — than the hot black sand at other places like Mt. Wynne.

      4. As a habitual snorkeler, the snorkeling at Buccument is pitiful compared to Mt. Wynne and many other places.

      5. I agree that the entire Buccament/Vermont area is a gem. But eco-tourism is insuffcient to attract the tens thousands of tourists that Argyle airport was built to accomodate.

      6. We don’t have the sufficient attractions for mass (read: beach) tourism, This is a fact of nature over which we have no control.

      I know all this because I snorkel at Mt. Wynne or swim at Buccament Bay five days a week.

  6. I don’t u why some vincy are so darn stupid.the thing that gets me is even though the truth is right before the eyes them still can’t see it this government is a scam. the biggest scam that ever happened in svg the government in power may not be the rightfully ruling government. because of all the scamming the lies the very well layout plan to steal the election even if the ulp didn’t win. Yet some vincy rather live in poverty unemployed with no good health care system available to them . Ralph is running the country to be a shirt hole country so that he canrule the country and people as a dictator, where the people live under his rules . to those who still believe in Ralph continue to sleep. I pray when you wake up that you will still be living in a free democracy govern country

  7. Venice, wheel and come again. R, you’ve just found out that Ben hate SVG? My bro, I’m fully aware of this a long time. The man is trying to be relevant. But only a handful endorsed his idiocy though. Venice, even if your name on the ballot, you would not get my vote. Whenever the time come, I’ll be voting for the ULP. Voting against progress, no way!

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