Associate editor Cathy Carroll met with Ralph Taylor, chairman
and managing director of Almond Beach Resorts in Barbados. Her
TW: Why did you decide to do a $7 million
expansion and renovation project at Almond Beach Village, and how
do you see market trends affecting tourism at the resort and
throughout the island?
Taylor: With the market in Barbados, there is
not a lot of building in terms of the number of rooms, which is
stagnant, but the quality of rooms has improved in Barbados.
Almond Beach Village is the largest resort on the island, and it is
The resort has a tremendous amount of land [30 acres] and is on
almost a mile of beach, so we have added more facilities, such as
the Courtyard Cafe, which is offering snacks, lunch and pizza all
day. We've added a new swimming pool and 42 new rooms and are
upgrading the kids center. During the year, we are going to add
more Sega video games and a Genesis room and we plan to enhance our
TW: What type of guests will the improvements
Taylor: The 42 new suites are in the family
area of the resort, but the facilities may be shared by all our
TW: How has the resort done financially?
Taylor: We are a public company and concluded
the last fiscal year by having had a good year. Our profits
increased 80% over last year, but our previous year's revenue was
suppressed. The increase was not over our best performing year.
TW: What are your future goals and priorities
for the resort?
Taylor: We are increasing our market share in the U.S.
Traditionally we have been popular with guests from the U.K. We
want to see a better occupancy and repeat clientele rate and make
our operations more efficient.
TW: What do you think about the government's
proposed redevelopment of Speightstown?
Taylor: It will enhance Barbados as a
destination, which will be a tremendous benefit to Almond Beach's
hotels because it is on the West Coast.
Almond Beach Village is adjoining Speightstown. It is a quaint
little town with a lot of history. It represents a wonderful
opportunity for people for shopping, sightseeing, historical sites
There is also talk of having people take a ferry there from
Bridgetown and also talk of expanding the old Speights-town jetty.
The plan calls for rebuilding the bandstand for outdoor concerts
and the restoration of St. Peter's Church. A boardwalk is proposed
to be built, too. This would all be done with a combination of
funding from government and private enterprise. We would clearly be
helping with the restoration through fund-raising ventures and in
TW: Why should agents book Almond Beach, and
what special incentives do you offer agents booking Almond Beach
Taylor: Agents who sell Almond Beach Resorts
will have their clients return as satisfied customers. Our repeat
client rate is 40%. At Christmastime we have our highest rate of
repeat customers, many who find out about us through
The product is inclusive, so agents earn a good commission at a
rate of 13% for direct bookings, and our Team Almond program gives
We do airport transfers for all our repeat guests with a stretch
limousine serving champagne. We are going to upgrade the
presidential suite we have now and are planning to add a few more
presidential suites this fiscal year.
We have added a spa to our adults-only Almond Beach Club, which
is ultra-modern, with Salud Co. brand water treatments, massages,
wraps, facials, pedicures and manicures, steam showers and a modern
TW: What is the status of the creation of
Almond Beach Village Negril [Jamaica], and what types of clients
will you be targeting?
Taylor: We are finalizing the financing [for
the $38 million joint construction project between Almond Resorts
Inc. and Seasplash Plantation Ltd. of Jamaica]. Construction [of
the 235 all-suite hotel] will begin in June, and it is scheduled to
open by the winter of 2000 in Negril.
We picked Negril because it's a wonderful location. There is
tremendously good access, especially from the U.S. It is a
best-selling honeymoon destination and we will do well in that
setting. We will bring a new client base to Jamaica and we think
that Almond's clients who have previously been to Barbados would be
interested in going there.
TW: What do you think Barbados needs to improve
tourism to the island?
Taylor: They could use additional airlift from
North America and from different areas of the U.S. Now the airlift
is primarily from the Northeast and Southeast, which is served well
by American and Air Jamaica, but there are certain areas they don't
serve to Barbados, like the Midwest. Barbados tourism needs to
create a greater awareness in the U.S. marketplace. It needs to be
a better-known destination.