Business

Liguanea Club undertaking $50-m upgrade

STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter jacksons@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 04, 2013    

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THE New Kingston-based Liguanea Club will embark on a $50 million upgrade at the over 100 year-old private members' venue to offer four-star accommodation.

Its the first major upgrade in decades at the club and entails modernising its 38 rooms, lobby, meeting rooms, tennis courts and gardens.

The upgrade aims to transform the "2.5 star accommodation into a four star" property, management indicated in a Jamaica Observer interview.

The upgrade starts this month and runs until April.

"Liguanea Club is 103 years old and she hasn't had any major renovation for the better part of 30 years now and we feel that, like any beautiful lady she needs a bit of touching up at this point in time," said Gordon Edwards, general manager at the club. "We do not want to change our character. Even though it will have a newer look it will still have that old world charm."

It is still a members' only club which offers rooms, a gym, along with facilities for tennis, squash, swimming and jogging.

All rooms are planned for renovation and should be completed by "April", said Edwards adding that he is satisfied with the current room count. "It keeps it intimate."

Rooms can go for some US$100 a night at the complex but sales manager Sheron Cameron-Dunn declined to reveal the rates for upgraded rooms. She did, however, say that occupancy levels are expected to rise from 60 to beyond 70 per cent after the project is completed.

James Samuels, project manager and former general manager of the club said that the upgrade will cost some $50 million.

The club's new interior designs will be overseen by Beverly Rousseau.

The Liguanea Club once controlled large sections of lands now developed into contemporary New Kingston.

Over the decades, the club sold or granted these lands for development.

The most recent donation was to the government to construct Emancipation Park, according to Edwards.

Management said that members own the club as opposed to a group of shareholders.

"It has always been owned by its members," said Edwards. "It is managed by a committee but owned by the members. We do not have shareholders per se because there are no dividends paid, but you have a say in how the club is run. Whether at a special general meeting or annual general meeting you have a vote."

Sale of assets are pooled in the accounts of the club which allows for upgrades, he explained.

"If anything is sold at the club it has to go to a wider general meeting and the membership has to vote in favour," Edwards said. "The club receives [the money] and it goes to the coffers of the club to continue to improve the club. There is no such thing as a dividend paid."

The modern history of the club began in 1910 with Chief Justice of Jamaica Sir Fielding Clarke as its first president; its first major refurbishing was in 1949 and it was featured in the James Bond movie Dr No, which showcased lead actor Sean Connery entering the club as a guest.

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