Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Couples Resorts is finalising a deal to acquire a hotel in Barbados, making it the first Jamaican resort group to venture into that market.
It's also Couples' first venture outside of its home market.
Couples chief executive officer, Glenn Lawrence, confirmed plans on Wednesday to purchase the 280-room Almond Casuarina Beach (ACB) Club in the eastern Caribbean island.
"We are involved in firm negotiations," said Lawrence, adding that the deal was expected to conclude on or before January 31, at which time more details would be forthcoming.
The Almond Casuarina is Barbados' second-largest resort.
This latest announcement comes months after a deal to purchase SuperClubs' Breezes Grand in Negril fell through.
"We see ourselves as a regional brand," said Lawrence. "The opportunity came up through Neal & Massy - we managed to put a deal together that they accepted."
The property is held by Casuarina Beach Club Limited, which is owned by Barbados Shipping & Trading Company and Almond Resorts Inc in partnership with Goddard Enterprises Limited. Barbados Shipping and Almond are subsidiaries of Trinidad conglomerate Neal & Massy Holdings Limited.
During the negotiations, normal operations at Almond Casuarina will continue and all forward bookings under the brand will be honoured up to May 31, 2013, said Couples in a media release.
After this date, the resort will be re-branded as a Couples resort.
Headquartered in Montego Bay, Couples owns and operates Couples Tower Isle, Couples Sans Souci, Couples Swept Away, and Couples Negril.
Almond Casuarina is located along the south coast of Barbados in the very popular resort/residential area of Dover on Maxwell Beach. The property is within walking distance of the St Lawrence Gap, an area known for its night-time entertainment.
The resort, which boasts three restaurants, is approximately 4.5 miles from Bridgetown and five miles from the Grantley Adams International Airport.
It sits on approximately 9.725 acres or 423,639 square feet of predominantly flat land, and is set among a series of tropical gardens spread from the guest blocks to the reception areas.
ACB has a selection of three restaurants, each serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It is not clear whether Couples plans to refurbish the resort.