My deepest sympathy goes out to Mrs. Mara Thompson, her daughters and entire family.
I would like to hold onto my special memories of the late Prime Minister and recall one of our few exchanges.
Soon after his illness was announced, you could see the strain on his face, and in a simple attempt to bring a smile, I emailed him a YouTube extract of a BBC ‘Yes Prime Minister’ episode.
Tourism MATTERS: The Hilton – opportunity lost can be regained!
Every time I visit the Hilton, I leave thinking the same thought… Didn’t ‘we’ miss an incredible opportunity?
Whether it was a decision taken due to financial restrictions or simply lack of vision, perhaps we will never know.
The location must be one of the most spectacular on Barbados. It has all the ingredients anyone could wish for. A protected beach, the long crescent shaped Carlisle Bay and both the Garrison Savannah and capital within comfortable walking distance.
Architecturally and structurally, I would have thought that it could easily have been incorporated, in the basement or on the roof, a single meeting space on one level of at least 10,000 square feet that has the functionality of sub-division. Yes, the former Sherbourne, now Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, has served us well over the years, but almost anyone that has attended meetings overseas will tell you, they want to stay in, or close to where it is taking place.
It is sometimes mind boggling to see the number of functions that are scheduled to start at 9am at the LESC. Especially when the children are at school and you have to battle through rush hour traffic. LESC also needs some upgrading. Fully functioning air conditioning and in this technological era, complimentary WiFi is almost essential if individuals or organisations are going to justify the costs of mounting exhibitions.
Perhaps, it’s not too late for both the Hilton and the Needham’s Point peninsular?
There appears to be no shortage of land close-by, to build such a facility, including the former Holborn oil storage site.
Trinidad and Tobago saw the potential and built a new conference facility, incorporating it with a major brand name hotel, the Hyatt. We know of a number of high level meetings that have taken place there, but I wonder if anyone has calculated the Dollar generation and increased arrival numbers, it has produced since opening.
Clearly, it is in Government’s interest to ensure as many of the Hilton’s 350 plus rooms are full as often as possible. Achieving this has a number of secondary benefits including protecting airlift and the trickle down effect on other tourism partners and retail outlets.
And despite the current fiscal limitations, we could go on re-build the Engineer’s Pier and provide world class over water dining options. The existing and very popular boardwalk could then be extended link the yet to be developed Pierhead project. Consideration might also be given to acquiring the St. Ann’s Fort site with its unique historical buildings.
Probably within a planning and construction period of five years, or less, Barbados could end up with one of the most desirable year round warm weather convention venues in the region, if not the world.
I can almost sense, what some readers are thinking, Government borrowing more money?
Not necessarily. We have yet to be told if the Sapphire Beach joint condominium project, where a private company has built on taxpayers land, has at least partly redressed the losses of GEMS. Have Hotels and Resorts Limited any available equity, where the remaining hotels could be sold and the monies used in more productive ways?
It must be abundantly apparent by now, that owning and operating hotels should be left to the private sector and driven by market demand.
November 1, 2010