Almond Resorts addresses blog’s renovation story: Nation Newspaper doesn’t ask about sewage leak story

Lesson #57,922 why Bajans don’t trust The Nation Newspaper

On January 13, 2011, West Coast Blog asked Is Almond Beach Village Closing? and told of staff being laid off at the Almond Beach Village resort, and that Almond was having trouble paying staff on time. The blog described a rumour that Almond Beach Village would be shut down in the middle of the high season for renovations.

Barbados Free Press picked up on the West Coast Blog article and published our story Barbados Almond Beach Village: Two very different reports, what’s the truth? on January 21, 2011.

On that same day, January 21, 2011, Professor Robin Mahon, Director of the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), at the University of the West Indies, posted a video at YouTube proving that the Almond Beach Club sewage well was running into the sea and that Almond Beach tourists were swimming in their own sewage. This was the second video posted and is just the latest strategy in a seven-year campaign by Professor Mahon and other concerned citizens to have Almond Resorts be responsible for their sewage runoff.

On January 22, 2011 at 2am, Barbados Free Press covered Professor Mahon’s video in our story Video Proof: Almond Beach Village tourists swimming in their own sewage. The story was read by Nation staffers at least five times in the first 24 hours, as were our other Almond Beach stories.

Almond’s say… and silence

As a result of the articles posted at West Coast blog and here at Barbados Free Press, Maria Bradshaw of The Nation called up Gervase Warner, the CEO of Neal & Massy Holdings Ltd., the majority owner of Almond Resorts, and asked what’s happening.

This is good for Barbados that the regular old news media follows up on stories breaking on the blogs, and although The Nation article doesn’t credit any particular blog at least it mentions “one blog” as the reason for the reporter’s inquiries.

The comments by Mr. Warner refute some of the rumours posted on the West Coast Blog story and skilfully skirt around other issues. It makes interesting reading to compare Mr. Warner’s cautious statements with a press release a few days earlier indicating plans for a $10 million dollar renovation and new buildings at Almond Beach Village and expansion throughout the region.

The press release “Almond kicks off Barbados Growth” said…

Almond Resorts is to invest $10 million in Almond Beach Village in Barbados and is eyeing further expansion in the region.

A new kids’ club and reception area is to be added to the all-inclusive resort, while two of the restaurants and all 395 guest rooms are to be refurbished in 2011.

“It is a case of bringing the Beach Village in line with our other three resorts,” said Peter Hopwood, UK vice-president, sales and marketing.

Tourists swimming in sewage a non-story at The Nation

We don’t know if The Nation reporter Maria Bradshaw asked Mr. Warner about the sewage overflow into the swimming area. The Nation never mentioned the sewage issue in its story. For seven years Almond’s sewage has been draining onto the beach and into the Caribbean but as hard as we tried we couldn’t find any story covering the issue in the oldstream Barbados news media.

Stories of Almond Resorts sewage smells, overflows and problems abound on tourism discussion sites like Trip Advisor. There was even a lawsuit in 2007 where a couple sued Air Canada Vacations for recommending Almond Beach Village. The lawsuit makes extensive reference to smells of sewage and “raw sewage being discharged into the ocean.”

You can download the PDF of the judgment here. Almond Beach personnel Jamshed Lateef and Nigel Evason testified that they knew of the sewage problem in 2007 but hadn’t been able to find the source of the leaks and smells. They denied that “raw sewage” ran into the ocean, and stated it was “treated” and not disgorged into the ocean directly… whatever “directly” really means.

Bottom line: People have been concerned about Almond’s sewage into the sea for many years, but the Barbados news media won’t touch the story – because the news media has a stake in keeping silent to keep those BTA and hotel advertising dollars rolling in.

Meanwhile, no sea baths for me, thanks!


10 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment, Ethics, Health

10 responses to “Almond Resorts addresses blog’s renovation story: Nation Newspaper doesn’t ask about sewage leak story

  1. Robin Mahon removed the video, why?

  2. BFP

    Hi Ian, Yup… Robin got “a call” from the people at Almond. Or maybe we should say “THE call”. You know… the one everybody ’bout hey gets if they put something up in public.

    Wish I had of copied his video from YouTube, but then they would probably sue him or something if he left it up.

    Next time it rains big I’ll head over and see if I can take some shots without getting caught.

  3. Bing

    “Let it be known these Trini love Brand Barbados.” Normally one would not mind such a statement but one feels humiliation and condesension from the words of the Trini N@M man. Bajans built a great safe happy small island state now its sold off to a bunch of foreigners whose core values and lifestyles run counter to ours. Barbados my homeland is lost.

  4. TWWIFOS

    Hey Bing….maybe you should blame the people who are supposed to in force the laws around here instead. If anyone (no matter where they come from) wants to make a mess of this place, they should be held accountable.

  5. Anonymous

    Keep exposing it. It’s bound to change.

  6. Robin Mahon

    I provided an explanation of why I took down the video. Obviously the BFP respondent to Ian Bourne’s post does not read BFP or prefers to make up their own version. Even if they do not believe what I said, an unbiased reporter would have at least indicated that an explanation was provided and given the reader the option to draw their own conclusion.

    What I posted on the 25th was:
    I have taken down the utube video. I believe that it has served its purpose.
    I have been contacted by senior Almond Beach officials and am convinced that they are now taking this very seriously. I am seeing work being done on site. I feel confident that visitors will not experience this again. If it happens again (and I pass there every day) I will video it again and post the new video, along with the one just taken down and the one that I took the week before that. The aim, however, is not just to stop the problem at that site, but to get the Government of Barbados to proceed with implementing the Pollution Control Act that was passed several years ago and is still not being used.

  7. Born At Night But Not Last Night

    So, let me get this straight – Neal & Massey shutdown Warrens Motors for losing $10M last year. Ralph Taylor and Almond lose $20M last year but yet Gervase Warner wants us to believe that Neal & Massey still has full faith and confidence in Ralph Taylor and that he “still has his two hands firmly . . . on the steering wheel”.

    LOL, surely, Gervase must think that Bajans were all born last night.

  8. Bud

    Lets see what the story will be in June or July, I saw Sandals people around

  9. Pingback: Report: Neal and Massy planned disposal of Almond for past year. No wonder the tourists were swimming in their own sewerage. | Barbados Free Press

  10. I testified in Canada about how the sewage issue was managed effectively by checking the lift stations…. stop taking my name unnecessarily you blatant liar!!