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All 6,000 investors are not going to be happy – Harlequin exec

All 6,000 investors are not going to be happy – Harlequin exec

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Harlequin Hotel and Resorts, the firm that owns Buccament Bay Resort, is not running a Ponzi scheme, but its business model is “unique”, a company executive told media practitioners on Friday.{{more}}

“I can happily sit down with you and go through the money that has been spent. What it’s been spent on…” Garrett Ronan, Harlequin vice-president of Hotel and Resort Development, said in response to a question about allegations that the company is running a Ponzi scheme.

The company, on Friday, invited the media to a sensitisation tour of Buccament Bay Resort.

Refreshments were on offer and Ronan gave a detailed presentation of his company’s investments in the southern Caribbean and responded to questions.

“We have built and opened Buccament Bay. We have H in Barbados that is coming up out of the ground,” he said, in reference to one of his company’s resorts in Christ Church. “… and all the other projects are at different stages,” Ronan further stated.

Harlequin also has resorts in St Lucia and the Dominican Republic.

“Our business model is a unique model,” Ronan said and explained that his company asks investors to pay 30 per cent upfront.

“We don’t say that is going to sit in waiting for planning permission to come through in two or three years [before being used],” he said.

He further noted that an investment “is a risk and your tolerance for risk, each of us has to make up for ourselves”.

He said “people who have bought in at $150 — $200,000 are selling out for significantly above that and are achieving a capital investment”.

Further, after two years, persons receive a cash return on their investment, “which is what the long-term investor is about,” he further stated.

Ronan said 154 units “are delivered and operational” at Buccament Bay.

The firm is now collecting the outstanding 70 per cent from those investors “and that is going to continue to develop this (Buccament Bay Resort) and go back into where the 30 per cents have been used, to continue those projects.

“So, it is a self-fulfilling and continuity,” Ronan said.

“That’s not a Ponzi scheme. If you look at a Ponzi scheme, a Ponzi scheme is about basically putting up smoke and mirrors, making it look like you are doing something. We are not looking like we are doing something. We are doing it,” he said.

The Harlequin executive, however, said he “can understand the fear, because people don’t understand what’s it about … and that why we are coming out and saying ‘This is exactly what we are doing. Come and ask us.’”

Some anonymous websites have called Harlequin’s business operations into question and have accused the company of untoward practices.

“… if you see one of those comments on one of these anonymous sites, you have a direct contact to me … Pick up the phone and say ‘Listen, Garrett, what is this about? I see you have three investors that are suing you, what’s that about?’”

He further said that with over 6,000 investors, “you’re never gonna have everybody happy”.

He, however, said the dialogue continues and “if anybody wants to buy out, they get bought out”.

Ronan said his company decided to construct in St Vincent first because it was a “new, exciting destination”.

The company is also developing its resorts in Barbados.

“… We’ve said to people in Barbados … ‘You know what, please be sceptical. Listen to … the chatter that’s out there because most of it is on anonymous websites where people are not prepared to put their names behind it. And they are doing that for a reason’,” Ronan said.

“But come over, stay, see it, meet the staff, touch and feel it and come back and ask us questions …” he said.

He added “… we are not perfect, but we are doing something with integrity and intent and we are excited to do it. We think this is something that is very different from what’s been done before and we’ve achieved it…”

Buccament Bay Resort began operation in 2010 and construction is still underway on some segments.

Some construction workers have complained about late or non-payment.

But Ronan blamed the situation on subcontractors who might be “relying on that payment to come in this week to pay that payroll this week, yet they have not accomplished a certain deadline”, billing queries, or when the resort is “not happy” about the work done. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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