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Margaritaville Caribbean partners with Wyndham on timeshare resort

Published:Friday | August 15, 2014 | 8:00 AM
The entrance to Margaritaville Grand Turk is seen here. Ian Dear plans to expand next to St Thomas. - Contributed

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

Margaritaville Caribbean Limited will roll out its next concept restaurant on the island of St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands where it is partnering with Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO) to establish a new resort.

The company is pursuing a joint venture in a timeshare resort with Wyndham, said MCL Chairman and CEO Ian Dear.

Margaritaville St Thomas will operate from the resort complex, but Dear said Wyndham would have no ownership in his restaurant. Otherwise, he was mum on the details of the agreement.

"Unfortunately, I cannot share the details of our partnership," he said.

"However, we are operating all the food, beverage and entertainment facilities as a part of the resort."

The "lion's share" of the investment will come from Wyndham, which will also manage the resort, said Dear. He declined to comment on MCL's contribution to the venture and the size of its ownership stake.

He is hoping that the St Thomas partnership will be the first of several, saying: "Yes, it is anticipated that once the model is fine-tuned that we will roll it out in the region."

The new Wyndham St Thomas is to located on the north-east side of the island. The project involves the redevelopment of the former Grand Beach Palace Resort.

The hotel will be rebranded a Margaritaville Vacation Club Resort. It is expected to open for business in early 2015 and "will be the first resort of its kind in the world", said a release from Wyndham, which has already begun marketing the property.

Dear gave a more specific date for phase one completion of March 2015.

Construction is expected to take place in two phases over the next three years, including the conversion of 290 existing hotel rooms into 262 fully furnished condominium-style timeshare units.

Wyndham said that the renovation will begin with the seven beachfront buildings and common areas, including reception, pool area and the 5 O'clock Somewhere bar.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership said it has hired J. Benton Construction of St Croix in a joint venture with Moss & Associates of Florida to complete the renovation and construction.

It is expected to create 125 jobs on full opening.

The group said it has already begun marketing Margaritaville Vacation Club.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership sells itself as the world's largest vacation ownership business, as measured by vacation ownership resorts, individual vacation ownership units and owners of vacation ownership interests that it represents.

The company develops, markets and sells vacation ownership interests and provides consumer financing to owners through consumer brands, Club Wyndham, WorldMark by Wyndham, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific, Shell Vacations Club and now Margaritaville Vacation Club.

Up to 2012, the company's portfolio held 185 vacation ownership resorts, which it said were either developed or acquired throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific, representing 23,000 individual vacation ownership units and more than 900,000 owners of vacation ownership interests.

MCL is a regional company owned by Dear, which operates eight Margaritaville restaurants in three markets - Jamaica Cayman Islands, and Turks & Caicos Islands - as well as other retail outlets and food franchises under different brands, including 15 shops at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay and 11 in the seaside town, Falmouth.

The company's preference shares were listed earlier this year on the Jamaican stock market. The filing of its first earnings report is pending.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com