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Golf, Anyone?

As Anguilla heads into general elections (which will in all likelihood be held in early 2010) the issues concerning the golf course and resort development at Rendezvous Bay may well be a key component of the political discussions--regardless of whether or not the golf course is open or construction has recommenced by the time elections are held. Whereas one would imagine public concern over the issues would abate if deals are in place and progress can be seen, the terms of those deals will inevitably be fuel for political discourse--as well they should be in an open society with reference to such an important project.

In fact, the golf course and the concomitant resort development have been controversial from the start, with concerns over the concessions that were granted to the developers competing against claims that it was crucial to Anguilla's development for the old Sonesta site to be revitalized and for a golf course to be built--sadly whichever position was initially correct Anguilla now finds itself in a situation where more concessions may have to be granted if the golf course project is to proceed...and now that it has begun it is unmistakably crucial to Anguilla's development.

With the foregoing in mind, it's also important to keep Viceroy in sight as elections draw near, whereby Viceroy is scheduled to open over one third of their rooms along with corresponding support services this summer. Interestingly, with all the concerns over the past five years regarding Anguilla becoming over developed, the Viceroy rooms will be the first new hotel rooms to open during those five years--however numerous high end villas have opened during that time, which might appear to be yet another argument favoring a multitude of individual smaller investors as opposed to a handful of larger institutional developers.

If the golf course (and club house, etc) reopen and if construction of the corresponding resort restarts and if Viceroy successfully opens a significant portion of its rooms and facilities, the Anguilla economy will start to expand impressively once again, as that trifecta would have an immediate as well as a long term impact--for not only would such success bode well for those projects themselves it would inevitably increase occupancy rates island wide...for our luxurious high end hotels and villas, as well as for the numerous guest houses and apartments along with the abundance of retail and office spaces that have been built or renovated over the past number of years in anticipation of the influx of workers and support services that were envisioned (with a significant number of local mortgages and corresponding repayment schedules resting on those referenced occupancy rates improving).

On the other hand, if that trifecta does not hit, depending on which or how many of those three legs are missing, Anguilla might find itself in difficult straits for the remainder of this year at a minimum--certainly until the beginning of the next tourism season and the launching of the annual jazz festival in November...for if the economy is cold, happily the music will be hot and woes will abate at least for that one long weekend.

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