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Dolphin Cove spruces up its product

Published:Wednesday | November 16, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Stafford Burrowes, chairman and CEO of Dolphin Cove Limited.

Marine park operator Dolphin Cove Limited is executing a programme of upgrades and rebranding in anticipation of increased business from the expanding hotel sector and expectations of more cruise calls by the Disney ship.

Dolphin Cove is refreshing its product amid a slide in park revenue over nine months to September. Its other services, however, have spun enough sales to offset the decline.

Operators of the attraction have rebranded the Prospect plantation tour it's now called Yaaman Adventure Park.

"We have increased the capacity of our tour centre and gift shop. We have also constructed a new kitchen and expanded our mud buggy tour," said the company in its financials released this week.

Additionally, Dolphin Cove Negril has been rebranded Dolphin Cove Montego Bay and its offerings expanded to include kayaking and Segways, the report said.

The flagship Ocho Rios marine park has improved its dolphin interactive programmes and will be providing new dining and swimming pool areas. The check-in area has been relocated and enlarged and the gift shops upgraded.

Dolphin Cove earned $112 million for its September third quarter or 12.3 per cent less net profit than a year earlier.

Over nine months the company earned $457 million net profit, up from $412 million. Earnings per share over nine months totalled $1.17 or 11 per cent higher than a year earlier. Group revenue rose 7 per cent overall from $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion. Its core attractions, however, saw a dip in sales revenue to $870 million from $930 million.

Dolphin Cove said its top line performance was impacted by two events, both cruise sector related: a decision by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to lower the net rate it pays the marine park per guest; and a reduction in the number of cruise calls to Jamaica by Disney Cruise Lines in 2016.

However, the marine park is expecting those situations to normalise. It reports that its Mexican owner was able to get Royal Caribbean to increase the price; and that Disney Cruise Lines' new cruise schedule indicates it will resume its previous frequency of calls to Jamaica in 2017.




"Also, new increased rates have been negotiated with several cruise lines for next year," said Dolphin Cove.

As for developments in the hotel sector: "The expansion at Secrets (Dreams, Montego Bay), Riu Montego Bay, Royalton in Trelawny and Bahia Principe in Runaway Bay are expected to open for the upcoming winter season (over 1,000 rooms). We are anticipating very good support from these resorts. These and other rooms being built in 2017 will increase the size of our market," it said.

Year to date, Dolphin Cove has expended $211 million of capital on improvements $70 million of which procured live assets. Its capex so far is double the spend of $101 million up to the same point in 2015.

Last year, Mexican company World of Dolphins acquired the majority stake in Dolphin Cove from founder Stafford Burrowes and other shareholders. Burrowes remains the second largest shareholder through a vehicle called Garden House Holdings Limited.

Expansion into the Caribbean remains a growth area for Dolphin Cove, which is already trying to launch parks in St Lucia and Turks & Caicos.