Bushy Park Barbados "a catalyst for development"

Bushy Park Barbados "a catalyst for development"

The potential for the redeveloped Bushy Park Barbados to become a catalyst for progress in the real estate and small business sectors has been high-lighted in the eighth edition of The Red Book, an annual survey of the island's property market, published by realtor Terra Caribbean.

At a media launch on Thursday (March 19) at Terra's offices at Worthing, Christ Church, CEO Andrew Mallalieu said: "Bushy Park was a place that you went to on Saturdays and Sundays, maybe six weekends a year. But with the investment they have made up there, this will be something that happens 365 days a year."

With the staging last May of Top Gear Festival Barbados, the St Philip facility's inaugural event after redevelopment, followed by December's Race Of Champions (ROC), which was televised live in numerous countries, Bushy Park has already been responsible for securing global publicity, not only for the venue, but also the island as a destination.

"There are a lot of spin-off effects from that type of event: people need to stay nearby, so all the hotels and the guest houses and the small restaurants, everything that is in that area, benefit significantly from the activity that is happening," he added.

Mallalieu, who is also President of the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) and a long-standing competitor, continued: "We feel very strongly that the development at Bushy Park warrants a closer look as to what it means beyond just motor sport and how it can be a catalyst for real estate development in that area.

"It is bringing something else into St Philip and eventually could lead to micro-industries popping up around the motor sport. I think four or five years from now, we will probably see some type of an industrial park develop to focus on the whole sporting industry. We probably will see some mechanic shops and paint shops in that area, just as it is around other race tracks all over the world."

There is a master plan for the development of the area surrounding the facility, which envisages the construction of a town centre, commercial units, and more than 1,000 middle-income homes.

Within the facility, there are already further real estate opportunities - the first of five planned clusters of Luxury Car Suites has been completed, and was used as the Driver Lounge for ROC. Targetted at wealthy motor sport enthusiasts, these offer secure garage space for the owner's exotic car at ground level, with either entertainment suites or two-bedroom luxury apartments above.

Mallalieu says: "Think of it as a marina for cars, with a residential component built around a lifestyle, such as has been done with golf, tennis or yachting. I understand that a number of wealthy people have already signed up to this programme, where they will keep a car and a property in Barbados. Some have a property elsewhere, maybe along the beach, but they also want a luxury suite to go to when they are at Bushy Park."

The island's climate is also a major factor in plans to create a sustainable year-round business: "It is not only about Barbadians racing a car. It is also about the world of motor sport using the destination of Barbados. We have huge potential in attracting foreign series, which don't particularly like racing between November and March in the UK and Europe, as the weather is awful."

The sports-tourism potential of Bushy Park was proved successfully during Top Gear Festival, when Blue Sky Luxury, the dedicated holiday rental division of Terra Caribbean, enjoyed a 50 per cent boost to occupancy in their villa segment. Kathy-Dawn Burke, Leader of Blue Sky Luxury, says: "From inception, we packaged our villa and concierge experience for the visiting guests. We always saw the opportunity as a Barbados vacation with a motor sport angle. The response to blending the two together was tremendous."

Under the headline, The Motor Sport Effect, the feature in The Red Book also quotes Sue Springer, Executive Director of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA), who said: "Barbados is a mature destination and one that has changed over the years. In order to compete and keep pace, it is imperative that we have new, exciting and different things to offer - major events which bring a high profile are important components."