THA wants private developer to renovate Sanctuary Villas

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Sanctuary Villas at Pleasant Prospect. Photo by David Reid

The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) will soon begin searching for a private developer to renovate and manage the THA-owned Sanctuary Villas at Pleasant Prospect.

In 2015, the assembly spent $32 million on Sanctuary Villas and Manta Lodge, before leaving both properties derelict. The abandonment of the properties sparked questions about THA spending going down the drain.

Last Wednesday, the keys to Manta Lodge were handed over to the assembly by Udecott, which was contracted by the THA on September 30, 2020 to provide project-management services for the refurbishment. The newly renovated two-star, 24-room hotel and dive centre comes complete with a refurbished swimming pool and parking for four, inclusive of the differently abled.

Including its purchase for $8 million in 2015, maintenance and refurbishment, the THA has spent $27,353,630.36 on Manta Lodge.

Back in 2020, then chief secretary Ancil Dennis estimated that it would cost $70 million to refurbish both hotels – $10 million for Manta Lodge and $60 million for Sanctuary Villas. Manta Lodge was given priority, as it was the smaller project and would be easier to fund.

At the Manta Lodge key-distribution ceremony, Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said: “We won’t be using the model of the THA finding the monies to build out Sanctuary. We are going to clean up Sanctuary hotel; power wash it nicely, make all of the blueprints available and put out there an ad with a request for proposals for whomever is willing to take up the enterprise that is Sanctuary hotel.”

He added: “That would be placed on the open market for anybody in the world to do a hotel development to complete that hotel, and the THA is willing to use its stake as the owners of the lands and the estate there as its shareholdings in whatever development is to come there.”

He said work at Sanctuary would be too costly.

“I’m certain that now you’re aware that between 2020 and now – the price of steel gone up, the price of concrete gone up, the price of construction has escalated especially with global shipping issues, and it may not be feasible for the THA to spend the monies that would be required to build out Sanctuary.”