British-born Grand Prix driver, Lewis Hamilton who has Grenadian roots is now back in control of the lands at the Grand Anse beach on which sits the Raddison/Grand Beach Resort.
Hamilton and his outfit known as Time Bourke Holdings (Grenada) Limited had struck a deal with the 2003-08 New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Keith Mitchell to take possession of the lands in exchange for use of his name to promote the island as a major tourism destination.
The former NNP government said it had a commitment from Time Bourke to build a five star hotel on the Grand Anse beach.
However, a part of the deal called for the Hamilton group to negotiate with Trinidad hotel tycoon, Issa Nicholas to purchase the Grand Beach Resort from him in order to facilitate the planned upscale modern hotel.
After making a down payment of approximately $4 million on the deal, Time Bourke allegedly pulled out and failed to hand over the rest of the money to Nicholas.
Well-placed sources indicated that the remainder of the monies were deposited into a local commercial bank but were not sent into Nicholas’ account by the Hamilton Group.
Time Bourke allegedly tried to re-open negotiations at the last minute with Nicholas in order to influence him to sell the hotel at a lower price and he reportedly refused thus bringing an end to the engagement.
Incoming Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) government took the decision to acquire the “freehold” property of the land that once belonged to the Crown and was vested by the Mitchell regime in Hamilton and Time Bourke.
Two former Congress officials – Tourism Minister Peter David and Attorney-General Jimmy Bristol – were known to be opposed to moves by the Thomas-led administration for the State to retake possession of the lands.
Bristol and his law firm – Henry Henry & Bristol – were retained by Time Bourke to contest the decision in court against the Cabinet of Ministers of PM Thomas.
The court action sought to get the court to declare that “the purported acquisition of the property …. is null, void and of no effect”.
The matter came up for hearing before female high court judge, Justice Margaret Mohammed on October 8 and Bristol is apparently smarting over the outcome of the case.
The court issued two significant orders, the first being a declaration that, “The purported acquisition of all that property …… (the Grand Beach Property) by the Governor-General causing two publications in the Grenada Government Gazette, of a declaration of acquisition of land, the first on 27th January 2012 and the second on 3rd February 2012, pursuant to the (Land Acquisition) Act, is unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect”.
The second declaration states, “Any entry on the Grand Beach Property by the Government of Grenada through its servants and or agents, pursuant to the purported acquisition is unlawful”.
When contacted for comment on the issue, Bristol declined to say whether Hamilton will now carry through with his earlier commitment to the previous NNP government to construct a 5-star hotel on the Grand Anse beach.
He said that he was not at liberty to disclose the plans of his client.
Speculation is rife that Time Bourke Holdings is now the ones and not the Government Treasury to collect the fees to be paid by Nicholas for the lease of the hotel lands on the Grand Anse beach.
There are also reports that Time Bourke would now seek to proceed with a case already filed in court seeking to remove Nicholas from the property.
The Trinidad hotel tycoon has been described as a “tough negotiator”, as well as one who is “loaded with money” and the Hamilton Group would have to pay him a hefty sum well in excess of the earlier figure of $40 million that he was willing to sell the hotel for back in 2008.
In recent years, Grand Beach has spent millions of dollars on a major facelift and has attracted the Raddison Group to take over the running of the hotel.