The developers of a 46.27-acre property on an environmentally sensitive estate at Kilgwyn Bay in south-west Tobago are planning to construct an all-inclusive, 500-room, five-star luxury resort, just metres away from the runway at the ANR Robinson International Airport.
The announcement of the construction of a five-star hotel at Kilgwyn Bay was first made last November by Farley Augustine, chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, as he opened the Tobago stand at the 43rd edition of World Travel Market at the ExCel exhibition centre in London, England.
“I’m not at liberty to give the name but they are about to start construction in June 2023 at the Kilgwyn Bay area. And guess what...in this area no hotels exist. So you are talking about virgin land, virgin beach opportunities, even more suites to make the romance sweeter,” Augustine was reported to have told the news conference in London.
Last Monday, the Environmental Management Authority made available for public comment documents comprising the application for a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) for the project.
Those documents disclose that the Apple Leisure Group and a Guayaguayare-based company named DSM Investments Ltd acquired 46 acres (18.7258 hectares) of land in Kilgwyn Bay, Tyson Hall, southwest Tobago and are desirous of constructing a 500-room resort on approximately 26 acres (11 hectares) of it.
Apple Leisure Group is the luxury resort-management services, travel and hospitality group, which was identified by Finance Minister Colm Imbert during a post-budget 2020 presentation, as the “reputable internationally recognised brand manager” that had been selected as the preferred operator of the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort.
Imbert has made no subsequent announcement about the Apple Leisure Group operating Magdalena, which is located at Lowlands in Tobago and remains as a state-run property.
The Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced in November 2021 that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Apple Leisure Group (ALG), for an estimated US$2.7 billion in cash.
Mayaro businessman Ellister Lewis is the founder and main shareholder of DSM Investments Ltd, which entered into a hotel marketing and management services agreement with AMResorts, a part of the Apple Leisure Group. The date of the agreement was not disclosed in the documents.
A document in the CEC application indicates that the 18.7258 hectares of land were transferred to Kayso Persad Rampersad and Robert Sanowar in 2003. The document does indicate when the land was acquired by the Apple Leisure Group and DSM Investments.
The intended start date of the construction of the hotel is October 2023 and the estimated project capital is put at $1 billion.
The 500-room complex is envisaged to comprise a 200-room, adults-only Secrets Resort and a 300-room Dreams Resort, which will accommodate families.
“In each case, the two hotels will share the service areas, making the plot ratio of the land and its environmental impact much lower, because operationally they will work as a single hotel and adopt the build with nature (BwN) coastal design concept,” according to documents submitted by FCL Financial to the EMA. Daniel Lambert, the founder of FCL Financial, is the project’s financial consultant.
The plans for the resort envisage 12 restaurants/eating places, eight bars, nine kitchens, pools, jacuzzis, water parks, spas and multi-purpose and tennis courts.
Approximately 55 per cent of the property is covered by red mangrove, while black mangrove accounts for 15 per cent of the mangrove trees on the property.
The introduction of the EIA, which was conducted by Optimal Geosciences and Engineering Solutions Ltd, states: “This proposed development is slated to increase the room offerings of the island, thereby creating jobs and economic benefits, growing the tourist clientele and in the process enhance and diversify the Tobago tourism product.
“On the contrary, the potential degradation, loss and adverse effects of natural habitats as well as impacts on the noise climate, air quality and solid waste facilities, are some of the potential negative impacts of the project.
“This EIA report also provides a comprehensive assessment of the potential cumulative impacts associated with the hotel development and its affiliated geographic sphere of influence.
“These concerns are highlighted through the stakeholder involvement, public interviews and primary baseline data studies conducted for this EIA.”