Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Jamaicans offered 14% in new Spanish hotel development

Published:Wednesday | November 18, 2015 | 11:00 AM

Jamaican investors will be offered up to 14 per cent equity in the US$200 million resort development that Spanish group H10 Hotels plans for the north coast parish of Trelawny, the development's local promoters have disclosed.

The project, involving two hotels with a combined 800 rooms, was unveiled Monday by Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) officials and business partners Fredrick Moe and Carlos Moleon, who apparently had full corporate clearance from H10 to make the announcement, including the proposal to go the domestic market for an estimated US$24 million ($2.9 billion).

"We are acting as the promoters," Moe, a well-known Montego Bay developer and deal-maker told journalists. Moleon is a Spaniard who has lived in Jamaica for 15 years and has been involved in a wide range of businesses, including the development of tourist attractions.

According to Moe, his group plans to raise the domestic portion of the capital through private placement, rather than via the Jamaica Stock Exchange. He, however, could not immediately say how it will be structured or the brokerage house that will take the deal to market.

"That is confidential information at this time," Moleon quipped.

The 65 acres of beachfront land on which the Barcelona-based H10 will build the properties was previously owned by a consortium of Jamaican entrepreneurs, including Moe, but was recently acquired by the hotel group for an estimated US$7 million. The beach was once at the centre of a sand-stealing saga, with claims that sand was being illegally removed to replenish other north-shore beaches for which hotels were planned or were being built.

According to Moleon, construction of the two hotels, which will be H10's first in the English-speaking Caribbean - it operates 51 hotels in Europe, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic - will begin next year, and the first, a 485-room, family-type all-inclusive facility, will open in 2018. The other, a 375-room, adults-only hotel, should follow soon after.

The hotels will operate under the brand 'Ocean by H10'.

Moleon said an H10 partnership with the Canadian-integrated travel group Transat would drive occupancy in the hotels, helping to make them successful, leveraging Jamaica's strong brand in the tourism market. He, however, stressed that the economic reform project being undertaken by the Jamaican Government, with its more predictable tax regime and an easier environment for doing business, made the island an attractive venue for a company like H10.

"H10 believes that the Jamaican Government has done a great job with reforms towards foreign investment and that is why H10 has decided to heavily investment in Jamaica," he said.

business@gleanerjm.com