‘No intention’ to buy hotel initially


Tribune Business Editor


An Andros resort’s new owner has already hired 30 persons to help with site clearance as he yesterday revealed he initially had “no intention” of acquiring the property.

Brian Hew, the Kamalame Cay developer, who has just closed the Lighthouse Yacht Club & Marina property’s acquisition from the Hotel Corporation, told Tribune Business he changed his mind when he saw the “terrible state” the resort was in following its post-Hurricane Matthew closure in late 2016.

Disclosing that he also has emotional ties to the Fresh Creek area, having lived there when he first moved to Andros some 30 years ago, he voiced optimism that his resort development and marketing ability “can make it happen” and transform the Lighthouse Club into a mixed-use resort complete with boutique hotel and residential real estate options.

“To be quite honest with you, I had no intention of buying it and I was asked if I could redevelop it,” Mr Hew told this newspaper. “I went to Fresh Creek and saw what a terrible state it was in and thought: ‘Why not?

“We’re quite familiar with Andros, and there is some emotion in it as well. When I first came here 30 years ago I had a home at Fresh Creek, so I know a lot of what has happened here. We feel that with our marketing ability that we can make it happen. We’re excited about it, and feel it can work. Let’s hope we can control this COVID-19 thing.”

Mr Hew said he was asked to consider acquiring the Lighthouse Club by the Government and “a couple of other local people” who he did not name, adding that the deal took the better part of two years to complete.

“I’ve been living here for 30 years, so I understand how it works,” he added. “I’ve put 30 years into Stanniard Creek [Kamalame Cay], so it’s not a fast process in any way. We started cleaning up the place on Monday, and we’re going to start doing some renovations to the existing buildings and docks and get it up and running. It’s a work in progress. It’s like a painting; you have to clear the canvas first.”

Mr Hew’s has partnered with Dana Wells, the 45-year veteran Graham, Thompson & Company attorney and partner, on the acquisition via their Lighthouse Yacht Club and Marina Ltd vehicle. The Kamalame Cay developer said he was unable to specify the precise amount that will be involved in the Lighthouse Club’s revival other than to say it will be “significant” as several “estimates” are still awaited.

He added that the first amenities will open in “maybe a year if all goes well”, with the revamped yacht club and marina set for unveiling first. “There will be a yacht club, and we plan to put in a boutique hotel with some real estate elements and the marina,” Mr Hew said.

“We’re just going to use the marina as is, and then we have some plans to expand it in other ways. We’re not going to make what is there any bigger. We’re going to add on some other areas to the marina and home dock slips. Boutique hotels usually need between 40 to 50 rooms to make it viable. The real estate will be a combination of town homes and single family residences. That’s the model that seems to have worked well.

“I would say that within five years we should have all the bases covered to really start bringing in a huge influx of building on the residences and town homes. We should have the hotel within five years, or be starting on the boutique hotel and the infrastructure for the residences.”

Mr Wells said in a statement: “Economic investment and development in the Family Islands of The Bahamas is essential to the future success of our country. I am proud that the Lighthouse Yacht Club and Marina will play an important role in the expansion of Family Island boutique hotel and marina projects, not just in Andros but across the Family Islands”.