Southlands & Morgan’s Point

Ah, Southlands. The issue of Southlands has I think been an important factor in my relationship with Dr. Brown. I was (I think) the person responsible for making the original Southlands plan public knowledge. I came across it completely by accident and was shocked at the audacity of the plan. This occurred just before I started this blog, and my comments on the issue were instead over on the now defunct Limey In Bermuda blog. This also led to some nice Central Committee discussions.

I was upset with the destruction of a green site, especially one as unique as Southlands, although I was willing to entertain a more small-scale cottage colony style resort. When the idea for the land swap was put forward, while I have some personal ideas for how better to use Morgan’s Point, I was enthusiastic for the potential it opened up for the Southlands area. My vision of it was a partial clearing of the quarry gardens (I quite like the ‘wild’ look so I didn’t want a full clearing), and the creation of both a high quality Convention Centre and a Slavery Museum (see http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/) set amongst parkland.

I was particularly upset about the PLP, as Government, facilitating any deals with Jumeiriah, something that I thought was contrary to the ideals of the Progressive Labour Party. You see, Jumeiriah is owned by the Al Maktoum ruling dynasty of Dubai. They run Dubai as a de facto dictatorship, exploit thousands of workers from the Indian subcontinent, refuse to allow organised labour unions and have been accused of enforcing racial segregation akin to apartheid. For a political party based (originally and nominally) in combating racism and exploitation of workers, I found the notion of working with such a company hypocritical at best.

So, yeah, I raised these issues both publicly and internally within Central Committee meetings. Suffice to say I don’t think I was Mr. Popular within those meetings, with Dr. Brown being very much in support of the Southlands deal. He was also very enthusiastic about the decision to instead build at Morgan’s Point, talking about how this gave Bermuda the opportunity to build something to rival Atlantis in the Bahamas. He was especially happy about the Southlands team, citing how they were quality people and that this would see Bermudians themselves taking a pro-active role in rebuilding tourism, developing a flagship massive resort at Morgan’s Point. These sentiments were echoed in the media at the time, and the unprecedented granting of the SDO and land-swap deals demonstrated how supportive he was at the time.

Which brings us to the current situation. We now see Dr. Brown criticising the Morgan’s Point plan as being ‘too much concrete’ (not necessarily a bad criticism in itself, less concrete is usually a good thing), and complaining that Southlands plans for Morgan’s Point were that of a massive resort. Dr. Brown doesn’t want a massive resort there, we now learn, rather, he would like a small scale 40-room type hotel there. Quite an about face, no? If Southlands were instructed to put forward a proposal for Morgan’s Point to be Bermuda’s answer to Bahamian Atlantis, to be a massive resort style development, and if these instructions came from Dr. Brown then, then why is he complaining now that Southland’s came up with just such a proposal? It just comes across as if Dr. Brown is changing the goalposts halfway through the game. Comparisons with the BCC fiasco, where BCC found the goalposts changed continously to the point they could not continue, and then the new company (with connections to Dr. Brown and the PLP) were given much relaxed restrictions, are almost inevitable here. And, mind you, the BCC fiasco is still unsatisfactorily explained and continues to be a blight on the PLP’s record.

Additionally, Dr. Brown seems to have gone from being one of the biggest supporters of the Southland’s group to one of their biggest haters. From extolling the virtues of the Southland’s team as competent businessmen who knew what they were doing he has gone to belittling them as incompetent and inexperienced. Its hard to understand how such an about face has come to be. And its harder still for PLP members, should they use their memory banks, to accomodate the double think involved here. If one adopts the current argument of them (Southlands) being incompetent and inexperienced now, then automatically they invalidate the previous argument of them (Southlands) being competent and something to be supported. It’s really not clear how to reconcile the two positions.

There are also apparent charges of Dr. Brown interfering in the private business, insisting that Southland’s replace their own developer with one which Dr. Brown prefers. I understand that Dr. Brown is pushing for a Mr. Patrick Ellis to be the developer. Should this be true it would be rather surprising, as Mr. Ellis is implicated in a good deal of the corruption charges and shady practices that brought down the Turks & Caicos Government of Mr. Misick – who Dr. Brown has been implicated as having a close relationship with oddly enough. Now, from what I understand, Dr. Brown is pushing Mr. Ellis because he has been involved in resort development in the Caribbean (the shady deals in TCI) and is associated with a ‘brand name’. The brand name is ‘Aman’ or Amanyara. The developer that Southland’s themselves has selected is instead associated with the apparently no-name brand of Ritz-Carlton. Yeah, because if you say Ritz-Carlton to me I don’t think of hotels, nope. Amanyara, sure! Note the sarcasm? Who’s ever heard of Amanyara? At least I’ld heard of Jumeiriah or Ritz-Carlton. Or Raffles, Sandals or Hilton. But Aman? And besides that, why is Dr. Brown even getting involved in selecting the developer in the first place? Don’t get me wrong, Amanyara in TCI is a decent looking resort. I’m not opposed to such a development or something similar. To me that isn’t the issue. The issue is that Southland’s were told one thing, worked according to those instructions, and now are being told another thing. It doesn’t set a good precedent and it just doesn’t make much sense.

I can also understand the sense of frustration that the Southlands developers must be feeling. They seem to have complied with the original instructions given to them by Government when they agreed to the land-swap deal. They appear to have all their ducks in a row. They were promised the land at Morgan’s Point and without assurances of the land there I can understand they will have difficulty getting a solid support from big developers like Ritz-Carlton. I personally thought they had secured the land, but now it seems this was not the case (which just adds to my confusion).

Maybe there are perfectly reasonable explanations for this fiasco. I don’t know. What I do know is that it doesn’t look good, and someone’s got some explaining to do…

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Southlands & Morgan’s Point

  1. Didn’t you hear Dr. Brown’s response? Just check out Amanyara’s website. If you don’t like what you see, then you’re not Bermudian. I mean a real Bermudian, of course.

  2. As an aside, just thinking about the economics of the premier’s desire to have this luxury 40 room-type hotel:

    If we assume that Mr. Hunt is exaggerating a bit with his $3m per acre valuation, let’s reduce that to $2m. There are 80 acres, which would imply land purchased at c. $160m.

    Ignoring the substantial and obvious costs of constructing and running the actual hotel facility, if those 40 rooms were to pay off just the land value, they’d have to be fully booked for 20 years, at a rate of more than $500 a night.

    I know hotels are risky business, and I honestly have no idea what kind of time horizons they look at for a payback, but this highlights just how crazy the premier’s idea is.

  3. They are actually surprised by this? What else would one expect when getting into bed with Ewart Brown and his TCI crooks?

  4. “Should this be true it would be rather surprising, as Mr. Ellis is implicated in a good deal of the corruption charges and shady practices that brought down the Turks & Caicos Government of Mr. Misick – who Dr. Brown has been implicated as having a close relationship with oddly enough.”

    Show me your company…..

  5. In fairness I don’t believe Mr. Ellis has been formally charged with anything, however I understand he has been implicated in some of the scandals involving the disgraced Mr. Misick. I believe it goes along a TCI version of our own ‘unethical by not illegal’ line, but I stand to be corrected. All the same, the very fact that he has been implicated should mean it would be advisable to avoid doing business with him until his role has been clarified.

  6. “If one adopts the current argument of them .. being incompetent and inexperienced now, then automatically they invalidate the previous argument of them .. being competent and something to be supported. It’s really not clear how to reconcile the two positions.”

    Didn’t you get the memo? Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia!

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist – as apparently you couldn’t either, viz. “doublethink” :-).

    Beautiful rant – nails things on the head rather nicely.

    And I liked the BCC reference – I’d been thinking along some of the same lines, actually.

    Sadly, this too shall pass, I expect.

  7. “Maybe there are perfectly reasonable explanations for this fiasco. I don’t know. What I do know is that it doesn’t look good, and someone’s got some explaining to do…”

    JS, I suspect you’re well aware of the fact there are no “perfectly reasonable explanations” for this shakedown. You and I both know that unless certain remunerations are made or promised nothing will happen.

  8. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Bermuda: Southlands

  9. Another scandal, more eveidence of potenial corruption and back handers (or in this case no back handers!). Just wait a few weeks and this will have disappeared along with all the others. Move along please. Nothing to see here….

  10. Hunt’s hands are not clean, he just wants to get on de gravy train!

    Hunt was UBP back in 90’s when he had his head up JW Swan’s ass ,whose mantra was “stick with me and you’ll all be rich”

    When the PLP won, and Ewart mania took over,he was photographed posing at PLP events with
    Ewart Brown

    Hunt slurred and trashed environmental activists protesting his groups destruction of Southlands

    What about the SDO for Hunt to build a condo hotel for asian/foreign worker-slaves in his quarry?

  11. Vanz.

    If you ever spend time in the MOC bar you’ll hear a lot of talk about the Premier’s interests in T&C developments. Most of it coming from the occupant of GP1.

  12. the national trust needs 2 buy southlands and that will be the end of it.

    hunt is just gettin payback for his many years of exploiting bermudian employees who helped make him rich.

  13. Hi Vanz, I was referring solely to his mention in the TCI corruption inquiry, which you can find here: http://www.tci-inquiry.org/transcripts_pdf/TCI_transcript04_02_09.pdf

    I stress that I said implicated and went out of my way to say I don’t believe he has been charged or anythin similar, but the relationship and questions relating to it can’t help but make people ask questions. It puts the Government under increased suspicion, and this could be completely avoided, especially as the Southlands group seem to have managed to get a developer all by themselves who is connected with an established brand already.

  14. Brown is trying to force the Morgans Point developers to use a crony of his from the T&C – a man who was involved in suspect deals with Browns close friend and business colleague Michael Misick.

  15. So Dr. Brown has said he had no knowledge of Ellis’s involvement in the commission on the TCI corruption. While, initially, that sounds like a plausible defense, if this is a man that our premier and Tourism minister is trying to FORCE upon the Southlands team, don’t you think he could of at least Google’d the guy? Is ‘doing your homework’ no longer a key part of the job?

    If you’ve done no research, how can you recommend him?

  16. As posted on BIAW:

    OK Here is the deal. Through the grapevine…

    Brown had no intention of swapping Morgan’s Point with Southlands. The whole purpose of his trip to India was to secure financing and meet with his business partners for a new hotel development between he and Ellis on Morgan’s Point.

    So Southlands has to go back to developing Southlands and Brown can trumpet 2 hotels(which will probably never get built).

    Morgan’s Point has been turned over to WEDCO(ahh, the penny drops as to why Walter Lister went to India) as of now and development is planned to start immediately.

    No doubt Brown decided not to entertain Southlands as they were not willing to provide the necessary kickbacks. Whereas, Ellis, recommended by Brown’s crooked good buddy Michael Misick in TCI, would be more than willing.

    One last hurrah before he leaves…but it is a long time to October still…

  17. Pingback: Southlands & Morgan's Point « "Catch a fire" | caicostoday

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s