Needham Point = Opportunity!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner, tourism visionary

Tourism Potential

While I fully understand all the fiscal restraints Government currently has and the historical and possibly political desire to complete the recently re-named Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre, I would like to propose a second option.

There is no doubt that Trinidad and Tobago stole a march on the Southern Caribbean by constructing a new conference facility and an adjacent first class hotel.

It’s no secret that most people attending conferences, for all sorts of reasons, want to stay close to where the event is taking place. The very last thing is they wish to endure is to spend indeterminate amounts of time fighting with rush hour traffic to reach where the function is taking place.

For whatever reason, ‘we’ missed a golden opportunity with the construction of the Hilton. 354 rooms, but not one large enough space to host major exhibitors and trade or consumer shows.

In hindsight it would have been so easy to have incorporated a single meeting area on one level of at least 10,000 square feet. Whether it was rooftop, basement or even formed part of the car park!

It’s not too late!

Needham Point still offers one of the most desirable locations for further development and if we seriously want to maintain and attract further airlift year round, this is our chance, even during a recession.

The former refinery land could be used and the barracks together with other buildings currently used by the Royal Barbados Defence Force be tastefully incorporated while protecting their architectural heritage.

Even the derelict pier could be transformed to provide a spectacular waters edge restaurant.

Much discussion has taken place over the years about the proposed Pierhead development, and I am still in full support of this project to help revitalise historic Bridgetown. Not only would it to attractive to long stay visitors but also within easy walking distance of the quoted 700,000 cruise ship passengers entering the port each year.

I believe that the development of Needham Point into a major conference and event centre would provide the catalyst to ensure that Pierhead becomes a viable project. Restaurants, shops and other facilities generating valuable foreign currency!

The chairman of one of our major construction and development companies recently stated that it was time to put back.

Could his company together with others in partnership with Government make a world class conference facility a reality?

Very few of the above are new ideas. Many have been voiced before. But now is perhaps the time to turn the concept into reinforcing the viability of our entire tourism industry.

Adrian Loveridge
28th January 2010

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20 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

20 responses to “Needham Point = Opportunity!

  1. reality check

    Anyone in the tourist industry would understand that adding a mere 10,000 square feet of conference space would be an automatic benefit to draw in business travelers.

    Conferences are a world wide industry looking for infrastructure to host clients who don’t want to go outside of the hotel and face traffic.

    Wonderful idea Adrian but it won’t work. It makes too much common sense and it comes from you.

    Barbadians would rather cut their noses off to despite their face.

  2. yatinkiteasy

    BFP did you take down a recent post dealing with corruption in Government, together with the more than 100 comments? I cant find it.

  3. reality check

    Yes BFP

    Where all the old comments in 2008 from the people joyous about real change and the coming of the DLP?

    The 112th post was from yakiniteasy setting out the usual approvals for questionable projects with no neighborhood approval and input ( Some place sitting on the cliff at Enterprise that should have a much wider setback)?

  4. Hants

    I have a client who is doing product launches in 10 cities in the USA and Canada and 9 are in hotels using up to 8000 sq. ft each.
    The hotels have floor plans on line and it was very easy to do the plans for these events.

    The Hilton missed an opportunity but they can add to the existing.

    While waiting to get a 10,000 sq.ft conference centre
    the LESC can be used in conjunction with the Hilton and other hotels.

  5. Hope Springs Eternal

    Adrian, who currently owns that stretch of land where The Pebbles restaurant used to stand? They tore down that place years ago and to date nothing has been done with the land. That entire stretch from the Barbados Grand straight to the Hilton is under-utilized.

  6. the hood

    Mister Hants,
    So how in heavens name do you connect the flipping “LESC” with the Hilton without having to fight with TRAFFIC. Boy! when common sense was sharing, you muuse went last!LMAO!!

  7. Say What?

    Reality Check here is the article I found in the archieves. Think BFP posted it for a day only to “revisit” but they should leave it for longer time.

    https://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com/2008/01/16/would-the-dlp-have-won-without-their-integrity-legislation-promise-and/

  8. Duppy Lizard

    Adrian – I hope you are not suggesting the undeveloped area from the Hilton to the Savanah hotel, if so, please rethink your idea. Bay Street is an area crying for revelopment. Anywhere else in the world it would already have been turned into a beautiful boulevard with appropriate buildings i.e. imcluding a conference centre.

  9. bp

    Remember that 10000 square feet is only 100′ by 100′. Quite small.

  10. Adrian Loveridge

    Duppy Lizard,

    Totally agree with you. ‘We’ have allowed much of Bay Street to rot beyond restoration.
    When will the policymakers think that visitors don’t come here to view the Central Bank building?

    The 10,000 square feet single space event facility is just a start. The Savannah with a few design changes could become a Holiday Inn and this would help drive branded conference/meeting business. Eventually the Grand Barbados would see the potential and re-build or throughly re-vitalise the property.

    Its only a beginning and I am sure lots of creative people out there could add to the concept as time went by.

  11. Adrian Loveridge

    Duppy Lizard,

    I would add that demolishing the Dover Convention Centre was one of the most stupid policy decisions ever made. Maybe at the time, they saw is as a threat to the then Sherbourne.
    To demolish the Dover Convention Centre, then have the land lay idle for a decade and then build a hideous condominium complex defies belief.

    Someone, sometime is going have to think about the consequences of their decisions if we are going to survive in an economy based on tourism.

  12. yatinkiteasy

    Thanks, Reality Check and Hants…this was my comment…I did not realize the Post was since Jan2008…nevertheless, here is what I wish people to know is happening NOW!

    yatinkiteasy
    January 27, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    They are beginning to construct a house on the cliff on Enterprise Coast Rd (up from Miami Beach)…RIGHT ON THE CLIFF…where others have been refused permission to build on that same stretch of beautiful coastal views..”30 ft from the centre of the road and 80 feet from the undercut of the cliff ” is the LAW…yet The Palasides is builing concrete structures right on the Cliff…WHY? WHO gave Permission? How much was paid, and to WHOM? I believe it was approved in BLP days, so the Dees should be jumping all over this… Mr Boyce lives in Atlantic Shores and passes this construction site every day..Has he no eyes?…Maybe it was DLP approved….who knows….who cares…no one it seems..laws are made for some…for others, its a matter of bribes and corruption.

  13. Sundowner

    Hope Springs Eternal

    ‘ That entire stretch from the Barbados Grand straight to the Hilton is under-utilized.’

    Believe me this is not under-utilized! its a good stretch of swimming beach with car park facilities & very much used by tourists & locals alike, no more construction please!

    I do agree though that the Hilton should have a conference facility, The Sandi Centre, as Sherborne appears to be nicknamed now, is so overpriced that a lot of events held there are out of reach money wise for a lot of people that would like to participate.

  14. Duppy Lizard

    Hi Adrian:

    Thanks for your responses. You know, one of the things we should consider in the further development of Barbados is that it should be done with Barbadians in mind. Over development with tourism in the forefront leads to saturation and the destruction of what tourists find interesting.
    Most new construction on the island is modern or pseudo Georgian, Mexican and a host of other architectural styles – whatever happened to the traditional Caribbean style? This style is what made Barbados unique and interesting.

    Just yesterday I was reading on line the 10 worst cruise destinations. Among them were St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, a port in the Bahamas and of course Miami. The reason for the designation of being the worst destination? The large number of cruise ships calling on a given day!

    But getting back to Bay Street, all of the structures on the sea side stretching from the Esplanade to the Three Sisters (where Bay St. veres right) should be demolished. Unfortunately there are one or two nice buildings, but it would look spectacular! Imagine that stretch open to the sea, landscaped tastefully. New construction should then replace any structure deemed not fitting for the area. It would become the premier street in Bridgetown and announce that yes, we have emerged from the Third World.

  15. Analyzer

    Duppy Lizard – I don’t understand the reason for the 10 worst cruise destinations. But your point about traditional Caribbean style I agree with.
    There is an old Caribbean style building in Rockley that is going to be replaced into an office tower!
    It looks like it is going to be a rectangle with no character. The owners said that the building is old and needs modernizing. There should be a better way.
    On another point, does anybody know who owns the land between 39 steps/coffee bean and Savannah hotel? One has to park there if the 39 steps/Coffee bean car park is full which at lunch time it usually is. So to run in and get some lunch at coffee bean, you have to park next door and the land is in atrocious condition. Just wondering why the owners can’t lay down some marl to fill in those huge, huge, humongous gorges and pot holes.

  16. parking lot between Savannah and 39 steps

    Ask Sir Henry Forde. He may have an idea.

  17. The Watcher

    I’m not sorry for what I am about to say.
    This tourism product has failed the country. It continues to fail miserably yet government is pumping huge sums of money into it. We can’t compete with the emerates and other locations which can offer significantly discounted rates for their vacation packages. Plus, we have an issue as a people with service delivery in that hospitality sector, equating it with servitude instead.
    It is time to stop flushing money down the tube and look for a new foreign exchange earner! Plain and simple. The world based on last examination, is now an Information Based ecosystem. We need new vision in this country to tap into this new change and bring about the radical approach needed to propel the country towards economic stability.
    Our tourism officials need to be held to a system of Service Level Agreements which bind them to deliver or perish. This way we can either see value coming from their work, or we can get the rid of them as their value can’t be realized.
    Get out of the tourism business wholesale or retail, and lets get Barbados back on tract!
    Nuff said!

  18. Adrian Loveridge

    The Watcher,

    Lets say your ‘vision’ is even vaguely credible. How long do you think it would take to change the engine that drives this economy and how many people would starve in the interim?

    And do you really think this is the best time to make your proposed changes?

    I do however agree that our overall level of service delivery needs to be dramatically improved and not just in the tourism industry.

  19. Hants

    @The Watcher

    Tourism will always be a good Industry for Barbados.
    It is not recession proof but it is a sustainable industry and vital for an Island nation endowed with the basics of Sun and beautiful beaches.

    It is very difficult to make a 166 sq.ml island prosper without raw materials.
    Barbados does not have oil like Trinidad or minerals and forests like Guyana.

    The Tourism Industry needs “all hands on deck” to be the best it can be.

    It is better to improve on what you have than to discard it and look for a replacement.

  20. The Watcher

    @Adrian Loveridge & Hants:
    Let me first start by thanking you two for your input and acknowledgment. Adrian. I would not quite describe what I mentioned as a vision. I’d prefer to describe it as an idea. Now, on to answer your question. I would say that it will take as long as the right people driving it take to implement. It will be the time it takes to realize the value of making that move and the time that resources needed are focused on the task. How long did it take to change the engine driving the economy from Sugar to Tourism? It was done wasn’t it? Who starved and suffered in excruciating silence while it was being done?

    Let’s get serious about this. Tourism is done! Goose cooked! Our competitors will crush the daylights out of us. What competitive advantage do we possess that allows us to compete with them in any meaningful way? What do we have that is so unique to us that few if any other have. And whatever that “thing” is identified to be, how can we exploit that to its fullest potential in a meaningful way to help drive the Tourism engine. I have been observing for the last two years (probably not half a long as you may have been) the ages of the average visitor to this island and I’ve made this observation (you may correct me here is I am completely off base) The average visitor here seems to be in their mid 50’s to late 60’s. Now I can understand the need to attract people here with some money, but really and truly, are those the ones who go to Bridgetown and patronize the local shops? If they stay here for two weeks because of the peace and tranquility, who benefits other then the hotel owners who for the most part aren’t Barbadian. And how much longer can we tap visitors of that age? Companies that need to keep their profitability high do not go out and hire all old hands. Not because they are discriminating, but because they need the advantage of youth and supposedly longevity. They want to get your best years out of you. Is that type of visitor in their travel prime? And so what if tourism pays some locals just so that we can brag that most Barbadians work and live above the poverty line, how does that translate into the trickledown economics that is needed to run the country when a select few can benefit and hold their bounty so close that the rest of us see no real benefits from it? I am in awe at the whole idea of Staycations. The cost is so prohibitive to the average local that I can see more value in flying to an international destination and just lounging there for the week. Won’t even bother to go to a sister island as the cost of flying to T&T or even G.T seems to be on par now with trekking to NYC or LA. And there is certainly a whole lot more to do in those two destinations than there is within our Caribbean borders.

    And yes, I think this is the best time to make that change before it all goes south. But I have no vested interest in the tourist industry, so I may be a good one to talk! Barbadians have been too myopic for too long, looking only at their own special interest and not the interest of the country.

    Hants. I do not know about tourism being a good industry for Barbados. I agree that it has been good and has served us well in the past, but it is an industry whose time has now past and we’ve got to get out of that comfort zone that we’re in and look for the next best thing.

    I agree that we don’t have oil(at least not yet)like T&T or forest like Guyana, but we have brains like no other and have got to stop this ascension nonsense we like to practice where the older individuals of this country bash young revolutionary ideas in favor of the tried, true and tested. I recall that 20 years ago, many people were settling down into their jobs and getting ready to put in a decade or two until retirement. Today’s world is so dynamic and uncertain, that some people rarely spend more than 5 years in a specific position and certainly change careers 3 to 4 times in a work lifetime. That is the new world that we now have to contend with. We probably didn’t make it, but we’ve got to live in it.

    I’ll put my hands on deck if a viable and strong alternative is proposed and development is started so that when we finally feel like admitting that this product is dead, we won’t spend the next few years groveling in the dark looking for the next foreign exchange earner to keep us all from starving.

    But you guys may know something that I am not privileged to knowing, so I’ll keep watching to see where this tourism product leads us and hope that you both right, because we need something done, and soon!