The Premier of Nevis Joseph Parry has shed some light on recent developments ensuing from negotiations to re-open the world famous Nevis Four Seasons Resort.
In a recent radio address to the citizens of the 36-square-mile island, Premier Parry intimated that there are more factors at play now than when the hotel closed in 2008.
“The virtual failure of the banking systems worldwide and the severe recession that has resulted, have created a situation in which it is very difficult for willing buyers to secure financing for the purchase of the hotel,” said the Nevisian leader. He did say, however, that the Nevis Island Administration is making every effort to ensure that a deal is completed so that Nevisians can return to work.
Hotel investor, Maritz Wolff & Company, bought the 196-room hotel in 1996, but has seen many setbacks since then. In 1999, Hurricane Lenny swept through Nevis, flooding the hotel’s first floor and inflicted substantial damage, forcing the hotel to close for nine months for repairs.
In 2008, even as Maritz Wolff negotiated for an extension to its US$59 million securitized mortgage, hurricane Omar slammed into Nevis. The Four Seasons has been closed since then, prompting the American Eagle to suspend service from San Juan to Nevis.
In Parry’s radio broadcast earlier this week he said: “When over seven hundred people are suddenly made homeless by one employer, in a population of twelve thousand, that action will certainly impact on the country. It will have a profound effect on the Treasury in terms of import duties. It will affect the economy because of people’s inability to spend, and, of course, it will affect the number of tourists coming into the island who would normally patronize the various restaurants and clubs on the island.”
According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, the special servicer for the Four Seasons mortgage Wachovia Corp. and the banks holding US$69 million of mezzanine debt on the hotel, have struggled to come to a solution. Wachovia intended to foreclose on the hotel on March 24, but Capstead Corp., which holds US$39 million of the mezzanine debt, blocked that process, because it had filed an involuntary bankruptcy against the hotel the week before. Capstead was joined in the filing by an architectural firm seeking repayment.
Meanwhile, Nevis suffers through no fault of its own. “The ability of Nevis residents to survive, feed their families, and pay for their homes is dependent on their regular pay from the resort,” Premier Parry wrote in a March 25 declaration filed in the case.
The Premier also assured his audience in his radio program that, “Government is very involved in representing the interests of Nevisians, and right now there is only one conclusion – the hotel will need to be re-opened as soon as possible, and my administration will continue to work eagerly in an effort to make this happen.”
The fabulous Nevis Four Seasons, which was officially opened in 1991, has won numerous international awards and is the only Five Diamond Hotel in the Caribbean.