“It is hoped that the mood of investors has now improved,” says Jim Burba.
“It certainly feels like it and though we are not back to the jubilance of 2007 yet we are in a heck of a lot better place than we were in 2009 and 2010.
Mr. Burba is behind the Caribbean Hotel and Resort Investment Summit, which kicked off yesterday, Monday, at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami. Mr. Burba sounded an upbeat note when interviewed by the Caymanian Compass.
“Attendance and sponsorship is up, we hear it from people and we hope to see people standing in hallways doing business and shaking hands on deals, getting investments back into the Caribbean.
“The interesting part with the luxury sector for example is how the timeshare, fractional and villa home segment is holding up. We are hearing that deals are getting put back together again,” he said.
Other events that Mr. Burba has been at have been optimistic, he said.
“The Los Angeles event was even more optimistic than Asia and we were wondering what was happening – who has turned the switch on? Lenders are cautious still, banks do not want to play but someone has to step forward and it seems like development and investment teams are poking their toes back into the water a little.
“I don’t think it’s wildly different in terms of lenders; we have [large banks] and the same group that may have been there four or five years ago. This is people coming to talk; what they are doing specifically is what we will now learn,” he said.
There has been a shift in emphasis, added the expert. There are always aging assets which can be revamped but when development is red hot, everybody wants to build new properties, which is seen as more reliable.
Other sessions include recapitalisation and lending sources, inventiveness in deals and more.
“Timeshare and vacation ownership are looking for ways to enhance exisitng hotels by throwing inventory into the rental pool to increase revenues and visitation. I think from difficult times comes creativity and ideas on how to get more business beyond the normal booking channels is a conversation we have not had before: how do we marry these two parallel concepts under one roof?
“Plus over the years I’ve been involved there has always been conversations about private-public partnerships. But how well the parties work together is another story. The need to talk is pretty important – generally the governments of the Caribbean are better at it than they were 15 years ago. Everybody has realised that if you want to grow that portion of your economy you should not fight it,” concluded Mr. Burba.