(Trinidad Guardian) Battle for No Man’s Land.
That is what is shaping up on all fronts—from Government to the Clico owners of the property—as the spotlight continues to increase on one of the last pristine pieces of beachfront in the English-speaking Caribbean.
It is now a particularly significant chip in T&T’s tourism portfolio following interest by Jamaican “Sandals” chain magnate Gordon “Butch” Stewart.
However, CL Finance majority shareholder Lawrence Duprey, who said yesterday he will use all legal measures to fight for the property—owned by Clico subsidiaries—also said he has been holding talks over the last 18 months with a major global brand name resort developer which also wants No Man’s Land.
And which he said was a bigger name than Sandals.
“We’ll protect our constitutional rights,” Duprey added. “The way things are going, we must guard against undemocratic action, so we’re prepared for court—any court anywhere—to protect what we have to.”
No Man’s Land is part of the Golden Grove estate at Bon Accord Lagoon, Buccoo. The estate, including environmentally important wetlands, comprises between 429.8 and 517 acres of freehold land owned by Clico subsidiaries, Occidental Investments Ltd (OIL) and Oceanic Properties Ltd (OPL).
In an increased T&T tourism thrust, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has spearheaded moves for exploration of a possible Tobago Sandals development arguing that a brand name will earn significant benefits for Tobago tourism and increase hotel rooms by 750.
On June 25, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Tourism Secretary Tracey Davidson Celestine was reported as saying the THA had had four meetings with Sandals founder/chairman Stewart. At the end of June, Government announced an eight-member team led by onetime PNM minister Wendell Mottley to pursue and handle all negotiations for the Sandals project.
In a Trinidad Guardian July 4 article, Stewart revealed a preference for No Man’s Land (NML), adding if it did not work out, he would examine another. But he said he had looked around Tobago and had not found another. Projecting development in three years or so, he had confirmed Rowley approached him to bring the Sandals chain to Tobago in 2015 before Rowley won the general election, and contacted him after winning.