Barbuda Ocean Club
Barbuda Ocean Club is not a hotel but is intending to be 700 luxury holiday homes starting at US$3m each, along most of the whole of the south coast of Barbuda. Already extensively building on Coco Point’s old lease, according to their brochure there will be a ‘vibrant surf-side village’ here. At the other end – on Palmetto hotel’s old lease – they are trying to build a golf course on natural wetland (this never worked for K Club) and have further controversial plans to put a marina into the lagoon, our important (and protected) Ramsar site.They are also planning a sports park, an organic farm and (to offset destroying their natural habitat) heavily promote their Sea Turtle Project, to keep their investors feeling guilt-free In paradise.
BOC are building enormous concrete dwellings which are completely unsuited to the beach-side environment, with no information available about who the owners might be, and which will bring no benefit to Barbuda in the long term. Although some of us are employed at the project most of their hundreds of workers are contractors, or migrant workers from Antigua and further afield.
Luckily some Barbudans are now able to make an income renting surplus village accommodation to PLH contractors, because currently all the other income from this project goes directly to the Government of Antigua, who agreed this deal with incompetent-but-compliant Barbudan Councillors at the time, who now can’t remember signing that piece of paper.
Before the dust of Hurricane Irma had settled, bulldozers were pushing land for an unnecessary, damaging and costly new ‘airport’ for their prospective guests private jets, even as Barbudans were being refused the right to return to clear up their devastated homes after being evacuated to Antigua. Now we are expected to be satisfied with their paternalistic desire to ‘help’ Barbudans through their own ‘community programme’ agenda, If the Barbuda Council had the proper income for this development we would not need a community programme.
So the owners of Barbuda Ocean Club – PLH (Peace, Love and Happiness) and Discovery Land Company continue to meet strong opposition and legal action from local people. Their contentious approach – fuelled by both the contempt Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne has for the people of Barbuda, and the fact that he has now taken out a big fat loan from PLH to win more elections in Antigua – has simply brought unwanted division yet again to the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
In their brochure their marketing of an ‘ideal heirloom community where you can extend your legacy for generations to come’ is a community that belongs to Barbudans who have kept it this way for generations, not to the whims of the super-rich. And increasingly in a world where people are being given back their land-rights because their way of life is threatened, we think their approach is both ignorant and old-fashioned. They must listen to Barbudans because it should be a privilege to live on Barbuda; not an expensive, hostile and pointless fight.