Harlequin Barbados: More promises to news media, but where’s the action?

click all photos for larger views

EXCLUSIVE:  New Merricks construction photos

Where’s the action?

On August 15, 2012 when BFP’s photographer visited Harlequin’s Merricks construction site, there were precisely five men at the project. Five. You can see four of them in one of our photos. The fifth was operating a construction shovel.

As was the case when we visited Harlequin’s H Hotel and took photos over a period of five months, we have to ask our readers: Does Merricks look like a healthy, vibrant construction site to you? Does this look like 1,000 units ready to rock and roll?

So far it looks like Harlequin sold over 1,000 units at Merricks but the sum total of the work completed in 2012 is what you see in the photos. According to Barbados Today, this is what is happening at Merricks in 2012:

“Meanwhile, at Merricks, construction has been ongoing on the Show Village which will house one four-bed villa, one two-bed villa, one service building, and a lagoon and events gazebo to the tune of $7.5 million.”

From Barbados Today Jobs coming

Ian Bourne of Bajan Reporter took the news media tour on August 21, 2012 and it will be interesting to hear what he has to say. We’d like to know how many workers were on the site when he took the tour, but also how many are on the site today! Our photos were taken during an ordinary day – Ian’s and the rest of the news media took theirs during a planned news conference. Let’s see if that made a difference.

One question we’d love to hear asked of Garrett Ronan, Harlequin’s Vice President of Hotel and Resort Development…

“Mr. Ronan,

Is the investors’ deposit money being held in escrow pending the start of construction at Merricks… or has it been spent for something else in the Harlequin pyramid? Where is the money for the building of 1000 units going to come from?”

We don’t see any real questions at all in the local news media reporting. To be fair, Bajan Reporter hasn’t yet posted his take, but in the mainstream news media it’s all happy happy everyting goin’ fine so fine!

Yup. If memory serves, everything at Harlequin’s Merricks project has been going fine so fine since 2006 when Harlequin was promising investors they’d be moving into their units in 2008. Or was that Harlequin’s Buccament Bay project, or both? With so many Harlequin projects and so many promises, so many years of delays and so little action sometimes it’s difficult to remember what David Ames promised way back when. But then another investor puts up a YouTube video. Love YouTube!

BFP’s Invitation to Harlequin

Once again we invite Harlequin to comment upon our articles and to correct any errors. As we’ve previously done and as Harlequin has taken us up on in the past, we invite Harlequin to use BFP to publish any communication they desire, which we will publish prominently as received with no editing or accompanying comment from us. We offer BFP as a venue to Harlequin so they can directly communicate with the same people who read our Harlequin articles.

Further Reading

Barbados Advocate: Merricks Project and ‘H’ have not stalled

All Barbados Free Press Harlequin stories: Click Here

A few selected Harlequin stories…

August 3, 2012: Harlequin’s H Hotel Barbados – Five months of photos: Can you see any progress at all?

July 13, 2012: Barbados Free Press republishes deleted Harlequin news story

July 6, 2012: Anti-Harlequin websites disappear

April 11, 2012: Harlequin Resorts says change in Barbados planning laws caused one year delay

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27 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Offshore Investments, Real Estate

27 responses to “Harlequin Barbados: More promises to news media, but where’s the action?

  1. I was editing audio and video, sorry for delay – also wanted to make sure I did not do the same as everyone else who chose “JOBS COMING”

  2. yatiniteasy

    Glad I did not invest in this scheme.I know someone in the UK that “purchased” a unit since 2006..what returns so far? Nada.When will she get title to her unit? Nunca.
    Cant believe the Nation reporters just repeated everything that Harlequin told them, including build dates, employment levels, cost of the project, etc.
    Not to mention they reported that Harlequin “operate” resorts at Marquis Estate St Lucia, and One in Dominican Republic.They do not, and they have not yet constructed anything in those two projects…both of which are being actively sold (together with Merricks) on the English market.
    They are spending money on PR, but if I were them, I would be ashamed to show the Press (and the World) the status of the Merricks project after so many years.

  3. judyjudy

    WENT TO A UK PRESENTATION OF THIS PROJECT. THANK GOD WE DIDN’T GET SUCKED IN

  4. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 UP TODAY A ND SEE MASSIVE FRAUD ,

    We keep telling you All , keep buying what is not for sale by the true owners , Greed and a bad lawyers will help you loose your money fast.

    look out for Adams Castle NEXT, All the crooks on the build board.
    When you can go past 1850 on a plantation deed to today or even 1926 you are in for a bad trip People.
    People of the World you better do your home work and google if you lazy.
    what happen to http://www.plantations.bb they ran off the net, ?
    Book dated 1920 last owned by E.L Ward 287 acres Sugar Estate.
    for more info email http://www.moorishcourt@gmail.com

  5. koolnamehesays

    @Ian D Bourne

    It’s not all there now. Not one reporter including Bourne asked about where/how the deposits are being held and where the money for the 1000 units is coming from and how many have been sold and how many remain. Not one reporter asked about when the first Merrick suites will be turned over to the owners. A few foundations have been laid? so what! That’s all for the last year? Full disclosure Ian did you get any promise of advertising or trips to view Buccament project?

  6. Adrian Loveridge

    Did any of the journalists ask about access to the proposed Merricks site.

    Clearly the existing potholed Peat Bay Road could not possibily cope with the traffic generated from up 1,000 residences, visitors and staff. Has planning permission been granted to widen the current road and land purchased to enable it to happen?

  7. yatiniteasy

    Clearly the video was prepared for Virgo Communications, who are given a credit at the end of the video. Does this fact change the opinions of the producer of the video?Might he be a little reluctant to ask hard questions of the Harlequin people while he is having refreshments and gobbling up goodies supplied by Corbin`s Catering, paid for by Harlequin?
    No Ian, its not “all there”.

  8. I got a name Adrian, don’t be afraid to call it – God knows the other folk here don’t hesitate… Town & Country is to give the say-so; it was spoken about in the bus on the way to Merricks, next? (Driver is very good, manoeuvred vehicle well, lots of Light & Power trucks redoing cables for same resort)

  9. Anna mouse

    Ian D Bourne, I think you should apply for this job it may teach you how to investigate first before publishing utter crap……
    http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/site/job-vacancies-and-interns#intern

    I think most people here are still awaiting the copies of the court orders you must of seen before publishing your comments about alternative websites……

  10. When all commenters list their real names then I’ll listen, at least i stand by what I publish under my own identity – I forgot, only 1 opinion counts… yours, God forbid I disagree! I’ll listen and acceot opposing views when Real Names are used, until then? SFTU

  11. Anna mouse

    Ian D Bourne, Have you actually got proof that Harlequin got court orders to close down Singing Pig, Harlequin Warning, Harlequin Property Problems and Harlecon is that what your saying? and you stand by this??

  12. yatiniteasy

    @Ian Bourne You can`t be objective and report what you saw of the fantastic Harlequin projects, because your ass would be sued by Ames and company.If you were giving an honest report, you would say that you can`t believe how little has been done at Merricks, considering the millions of pounds that hundreds of investors have put into Harlequin`s hands, and the long time it has taken them to get to the stage they are at now.. It looks like the “Show Village” is still months away from completion with only a handful of workers on the job.The money has gone somewhere, but it is surely not up at Merricks.

  13. Mac

    @yatiniteasy. Just like the millions put into Four Seasons too??

  14. yatiniteasy

    @Mac, true..we are building a nice reputation for failed construction projects, when overseas investors are targeted.

  15. TWWIFOS

    They make it look so nice. :-}

  16. Henry

    Dear Mr Bourne

    The following is a list of questions that was originally posted on one of the “anti” sites. I think many people would be interested to get Harlequin’s responses to these – but documentary back-up would be needed rather than the usual verbal assurances and promises that never quite seem to reflect the actualité. It would be great for Harlequin to provide some positive reassurance to their investors – current and potential – and to prove the naysayers wrong.

    Would you be willing to raise these with Mr Ronan? If so, I’d love to see the replies.

    1. Based on the RLB Red Book, posted on the Harlecon site, the income that each investor will receive is a tiny fraction of what your forecasts show. Can you please explain the huge difference between the income you and your agents say will be received, and that shown in a formal report by a reputable firm of Chartered Surveyors.

    2. You’ve publicly stated that you have many (up to 15) offers of commercial funding. Please provide proof of this; I accept that publishing copies of offer letters will be commercially sensitive, so a letter from a reputable English law firm, confirming that they have had sight of the offers, that there are no unusual or onerous conditions and that the offers are current, will suffice. If you can’t/won’t do this, please say why.

    3. You’ve sold land in Jamaica and Brazil that you don’t own.

    a. What has happened to the money raised from these sales?

    b. When will you refund purchasers for properties that now will never be built?

    4. The early contracts for the sale of Merricks were entered into by Merricks Resort Ltd, a company registered in St Vincent & the Grenadines. That company never owned Merricks, yet you signed contracts saying that it was selling a freehold interest in the property. Please explain on what possible basis such contracts can be valid.

    5. Buccament Bay has now been open for over a year (and over six months since the full launch in April 2011).

    a. Have any of the investor contracts for the units that are now open been completed?

    b. If not, why not?

    c. Are any of the investors now being paid their 10% guaranteed returns?

    d. How much is Buccament Bay being subsidised each month? Mark Sawkins claimed $1M – is that about right?

    e. How is “50% net room rate” defined?

    6. With Oasis now not being the hotel operator, how can investors be sure that there is real, genuine transparency regarding operating income on which they will be reliant?

    7. A few months ago, you were selling two Quin or “H” hotels in Barbados. It now seems to be only one, the old Allameda. This has around 50 rooms, yet your agents claim that it will have 70. Where is the extra space coming from?

    8. Where has the funding come from to support Harlequin Air?

    9. The 2010 accounts for Harlequin Management Services (South East) Ltd were heavily qualified by the auditors, BDO. Why were you unable to provide enough information regarding related party transactions to satisfy the auditors?

    10. In those accounts, it is said by your wife and son that around £5m is owed by Harlequin Properties (Caribbean) Ltd to Harlequin Management Services (South East) Ltd. As Harlequin Management Services (South East) Ltd hasn’t got that kind of reserves, and never has had, this funding can only have come from purchaser monies. Can you either confirm that this is the case or, alternatively, identify where it has come from?

    11. Will income from each unit be streamed directly to the owner, or is income from units of the same class/type being pooled?

    12. There is concern that you don’t have planning consent and a Crown lease for the building works on the beach/foreshore area at Buccament Bay. Please publish these to allay such concerns, or explain why you refuse to do so.

    13. At the ground breaking ceremony for Merricks in September 2010, you promised that work would begin in October 2010. To date, nothing has been done there. Why? I know that you have recently stated that work will commence, but what is the reason for a delay of over a year?

    14. Your press release rubbishes the various claims on Harlecon, yet has not addressed any of the fundamental accusations.

    a. Are the emails reproduced there genuine extracts from emails you/your company have sent/received?

    b. Is the RLB Red Book the real thing?

    15. Do you have full, unequivocal planning permission for the Marquis Estate? Please provide proof of this if the answer is yes.

    16. There is a legal obligation for Harlequin Properties (SVG) Ltd to produce audited accounts each year. None have been filed since those for the period to 30 April 2007.

    a. Why?

    b. When will your legal obligations be brought up to date?

    17. The newsletters on your site seem to lack a degree of honesty. For example, in Issue 1, on page 4 we are told that 60% of accommodation at Buccament Bay is complete. That is not true even now, so how can it possibly have been true then?

    And if you can’t even be honest on simple, factual matters such as this, why should anyone ever believe a word you say?

    Further examples:

    • On page 5 there is confirmation that Two Rivers is 90% sold out and will open in summer 2011. How far has that development has progressed?

    • Page 6 informs us that Merricks will be open for Christmas 2012. How far along has that development gone since then? A “show village” is hardly an adequate substitute for the resort itself.

    • Issue 2 (July 2008) tells us of the value that Oasis Resorts and Hotels, Globalia and AirEuropa bring as partners in running the resorts. They bring all their experience and travel industry clout. Where are they now?

    • Issue 3 (Oct 2008) tells us about the excellent exit strategy to resell your unit. Has anyone sold one at a real profit after taking into account all costs, commissions, etc?

    • Page 11 tells us that Trader Vic’s restaurant will be open at the Two Rivers Resort in summer 2009. Again, clearly untrue. So why say it?

    • Issue 4 (May 2009) tells us of the launch of Harlequin Hotels and Resorts. Much less made of Oasis in this issue. Page 4 tells us that the Hideaway at Las Canas will be open at the end of 2010. Anyone stayed there yet?

    • Issue 7 (October 2010) assures us that the Pearl Galleon is shortly set to arrive at Buccament Bay. Where is it?

    18. Why has issue 6 of your newsletter disappeared from your website?

    19. Where has the funding come from to support Harlequin Hotels & Resorts? I ask as Harlequin’s various websites say only that investor monies may be used to produce such as a hotel manual, and not to subsidise a loss-making company.

    20. Have you paid in full for all the land you are selling or have you entered into any type of deferred or instalment payment arrangement, whether by way of a deed of mortgage or in any other way?

    21. Do you have full funding in place to construct all resorts as sold to date?

    22. Have you got all tax concessions on all resorts reduced to writing and formally agreed with each government?

    23. What management, maintenance and other charges will you be levying on purchasers of units?

    24. What are the issues surrounding Jamaica:

    a. why has the project not gone ahead?

    b. why was it never on your website?

    25. Did you ever sell any properties on a resort in Grenada?

    a. If yes, have full refunds been made to all the purchasers?

    b. If not, why not?

    27. What do you say about your agents claiming that there will be Gary Player golf courses and such like built on your other resorts?

    28. What proportion of a purchaser deposit is retained by Harlequin for payments to agents etc.?

    29. What proportion of each £1 taken as a deposit is actually used to buy the land the resort will be on and to pay for building costs?

  17. Henry

    My apologies

    Question 5 should have said 16 months not 6 months

    Question 9 sorry the 2011 accounts were disclaimed by BDO given the fact that Harlequins accounts in the UK were totally disclaimed and that they have no audited accounts for the Caribbean companies where is the money coming from to build the resorts?

  18. 144

    An investor with Harlequin should take these questions and ask their IFA, or agent who sold them this, and get someone from Harlequin to answer also.

    Ames has to walk around with body guards (paid for by investor funds, or commissions he has paid himself from selling but not building the homes), the only developer in the Caribbean to have to do so, because he is the only developer who has been accused of deliberately scamming investors out of their money and therefore needs them. He is not even a developer in truth, with no previous experience in hotels or development, and not in fact building more than 5% of what he has claimed to have sold. He also has not been a successful businessman as promoted. Fact, cannot go legal on those comments (incidentally how is BFP still going!)

    If it is true that he is running a scam, and it increasingly looks like it is, that it will destroy any developer who was hoping to sell their product via SIPPs as surely when this comes crashing down, it will have a huge impact on the lower end market/fractionals funded by SIPPs as people will be very wary. It therefore will affect some of the Caribbean development, jobs etc, as well of course as leave many people without their hard worked for savings. One would have to be a little naive to invest in Harlequin and even more so to sit and hope for it to work out. The more commitments they make (Allamanda and Amarylis), the more liabilities they have essentially and the less chance of the original developments getting built, as they co mingle all the funds (really, why on earth buy yet another hotel before you have completed a previous one, or even started any of them) I would be wanting to take some action whilst there are still some assets in the business.

    Anyone who invested for example in 2006 (or at any time for that metter) in Merricks or Marquis will not see their home complete, pure and simple. And if somehow Ames sells enough elsewhere to raise the funds to build these out, these places will not get built for another 5 years. The poor location of the resorts then means the returns just will not be there, and if the resorts do somehow work, it will take a few years to get them going and make a profit (as you can see from Bucc Bay, still losing money hand over fist, courtesy of information from senior Harlequin executives who incidentally will not be able to walk away from this if proven to be a scam) Investors do need to wake up and have a word, can start with the questions above.

  19. yatiniteasy

    I love the 3 year buy back offer for Marquis units in St Lucia…nothing will be built in the next three years…that I can guarantee you!

  20. ANOTHER FSA WARNING ABOUT HARLEQUIN.
    no smoke with out fire.
    http://www.investmentsense.co.uk/tag/harlequin-property/

  21. 36

    @BFP: I’m suprised that as I’m sure you wish to promote balanced and fair reporting that no mention has been made of the announcement on the Harlequin web site “Guidance for Agents and Independent Financial Advisors” In fact why have non of the hysterical posters of FSA Warnings not posted this. Oh yes, that would be the same FSA the the overnment are propsing to scrap because they are useless.

  22. 195

    My gosh…Harlequin`s failure, and investors losing money will now be blamed on Government!

  23. 39

    It was only a matter of time before this accusation was levelled — always someone else’s fault.

  24. Pingback: Harlequin’s The Merricks Resort as it really is right now | Barbados Free Press