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Former Breezes Montego Bay hotel sold

Published:Friday | October 9, 2015 | 10:00 AMTameka Gordon
The former Breezes Montego Bay hotel.
Developer and hotelier Chris Issa.
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The sellers of the former Breezes Montego Bay hotel have finally landed the sale of the property to lawyer and hotelier Christopher Issa for US$7.8 million ($930m), well-placed sources say.

The price is just about half the hotel's last known valuation.

The property has been shuttered and up for sale since 2011, with Issa himself having previously backed away from an earlier deal for the 124-room hotel in 2012.

National Insurance Fund's (NIF) senior director of investments, Audrey Deer-Williams, confirmed that a buyer had been secured, but otherwise said the agreement was subject to confidentiality. Issa did not respond to messages, but sources say he is in process of putting together the designs for a renovation programme at the property. Other sources added that the deal is yet to close.

The hotel, which sits on the beachfront along Gloucester Avenue, Montego Bay, was built by NCB Investments in 1995. It was co-owned by NCB Staff Pension Fund and state-operated pension fund NIF at its sale.

NIF had a 49 per cent interest, which it bought for $271 million. Its share of the sale price comes close to doubling that initial investment.

The asset was held by the pension funds through a company called Resorts Beach Development Limited. Its acquisition gives Issa his second hotel, following the 107-room Spanish Court Hotel that he developed in New Kingston in 2010.

WIHCON Properties Limited was commissioned to sell the MoBay property in 2011, two years after it was shuttered. Prior to that, it was managed by the SuperClubs resort group under its Breezes brand.

Frustrated by efforts to offload the property, the NIF itself was mulling buying out majority partner NCB Pension Fund, after the previously collapsed sale with Issa's Crissa Group.

At the time, the parties were unable to conclude the terms of sale "on a satisfactory basis for both parties," the NIF said then.

A local consulting firm, Kronos, was reportedly hired earlier this year to get the property sold.

The hotel was valued at US$14.32 million when it was first placed on the market.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com