by Katherine Renton
The “very ambitious” US$60 million Royal Mill project, which is seeking to put a big star on the map with its multi-storey luxury resort, beach club and residences, broke ground officially this week at Ratho Mill.
Present for the momentous occasion on Tuesday, January 21 were co-founders of the A&A Capital Inc and principal investors: Alex Lodde and Adem Adem who hail from Miami.
Lodde and Adem are said to be very successful entrepreneurs, Lodde founding his own company over 40 years ago which became the largest private transportation company in the US, and Adem boasting significant experience in managing and executing large projects internationally.
During the ceremony, the audience learned that Vincentian couple and Executive Vice Presidents of the A&A Capital Inc St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Jeanne and Raffique Dunbar introduced their long time friends Adem and Lodde to SVG.
According to Jeanne, who delivered remarks at the ceremony, the co-founders of A&A Capital have “visited St Vincent for well over 15 years and they both fell in love with the little gem.”
“Over these years they have always been interested in investment opportunities in the tourism sector here…,” Jeanne noted.
Therefore, she disclosed that when the “popular” property in Ratho Mill went on the market in 2018 “they flew here within days to view the property. The rest of the story is what we’re here to see.”
She gave the assurance that A&A Capital Group is very committed to the project.
“Significant sums have already been invested since the acquisition of the property in May 2019. The development plans for this project were advanced at a great pace during the second half of 2019,” she informed.
Lodde, who delivered brief remarks himself, classified the project as a “extremely important number one project.”
He told Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves seated on the platform that the project was a great opportunity “to create jobs, to create ancillary businesses, to do a great job and to put a big star on the map.”
The resort itself will have at least 10 storeys, three of which will be for 18 three/two bedroom apartments, and there will be two penthouses located at the top. There is set to be 80 luxury hotel rooms, as well as high-end restaurants, luxury shops, a business centre, a conference/meeting centre, a pool bar, an infinity pool, large gym, aqua centre, exclusive spa, and an urban lounge viewing the ocean.
There will be 15 luxury residences built around this, with five different designs, coming from the Ethiopian architect tasked with the Royal Mill. Pricing for a home residence is intended to start from 3.4 million US dollars.
The project is expected to employ 200 Vincentians in the construction phase of the project, and another 200 individuals may be employed in the resort itself.
Although the project is only in the beginning stages, it is already said to be moving swiftly, with dozens of containers being brought in with equipment for the job.
Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves noted, “Between two weeks before Christmas and two weeks from now A&A Capital will land over 100 containers of equipment and material here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”
He continued, “Because these are serious investors who want to get about the business of constructing this hotel as quickly as possible. They have a very ambitious timeline for construction and I’m a big fan for ambitious timelines and ambitious investors.”
Minister of Tourism Cecil McKie commented that the site, with its 360 view was one of the best in the country.
The Prime Minister also commented on the beauty of the spot for the new resort, joking “I can’t say – that what we have here is heaven, because as a good Catholic boy I don’t want to be blasphemous. But surely the beauty what we have here must be the anteroom to heaven.”