By L.K. Hewlett

St. Kitts Reporter

Under the agreement reached by Nevis Island Administration (NIA) and Newfound Investment Company, Pinney’s Estate has been allocated as the future site of a multimillion dollar five star hotel.

Newfound Chief Executive Officer Brian Dobbin made the announcement during last Friday’s press conference with Nevis Premier Hon. Joseph Parry.

“Two years ago when we first came here to look at the land, our plan now has evolved differently. It involves up to two hotels. The initial idea was to use the land that we acquired to build villas because we believe that in the future, more people will want to stay in private accommodation and therefore that’s the future in tourism.

“We understand now that we need mixed use, which means hotels, recreational amenities and villas, so our plan for this project is evolving,” Dobbin said.

He explained that the project be a villa development for rental around hotels, spas, restaurants and some high-end recreational facilities. With regards to the recreational facilities, Dobbin said they had decided to forgo the original plan to build a golf course.

“We’ve looked beyond golf courses and we’ve looked at the economics here in Nevis and St. Kitts. There are too many golf courses being built from a golfing point of view. None of them can make money the more of them that get built. We’ve talked to the owners and managers at Four Seasons at length over the last year and we decided we wont put a golf course in. We will put in another high-end recreational facility and we have a specific brand in mind with whom we are in negotiation with now. It will be very exciting and it will be the first time in the world that we will be doing this type of thing,” the CEO said.

Dobbin said that Newfound had done extensive research of hotels brands and settled on Starwood brand purely because of what they had been achieving with their brand of hotels.

Todd Reppert, Director of Acquisitions and Development for Worldwide Hotel Group, one of the Starwood brand hotels, said that they were midway through the planning process and were envisioning about 150 rooms for the hotel.

“We think that with 150 rooms you create an exclusive enough destination. It is important to us that this is a five star project because it has to compete with Four Seasons and other high-end brands, so in order to maintain that level of service and the five-star quality, we want to keep the room count in that range,” Reppert said.

He said that the project was a Worldwide brand retreat and not a typical resort, a place that would appeal to people who go to places like the Four Seasons now, but it would have a bit more ‘flavour’.

“The retreat will be designed a little differently and it is very important to us that it fits in with what’s already there. It is important to us that we maintain the mangroves, the forested areas and most of the beautiful surroundings because we dont like to do anything that feels unnatural,” he noted.

Premier Parry says he sees this development project as a chance for the people of Nevis to be elevated to higher levels of employment where they can hold management positions and not be limited to being frontline staff.

“The project will bring employment opportunities to Nevis beginning with the construction phase. When the hotel opens, jobs will be created in allied industries. What I do like about this project is that Nevisians will hold management positions. If you are going to have any kind of development in the island you need to develop a cadre of management people. I am not the type of politician who wants to say I employed a thousand people and none of them are managers; that’s not good enough for me,” Parry commented.

The five-star retreat will cater to high-end tourism and is slated to open its doors sometime in 2010.