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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Re-engineering Palmetto Bay For The Almighty Dollar

If you like picturesque beaches the way nature intended them, then get out your camera and head to Palmetto Bay before it is eternally too late. If Bottom Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in Barbados, then its nearby neighbor, Palmetto Bay, is a close second. But all of that is about to change forever if the once-thought-dead proposals for a 5-star resort on Palmetto Bay see the light of day. According to the second quarterly newsletter from Harlequin, the British company behind the Merricks development, they are proposing to build an offshore partially submerged breakwater to create a "swimming area" for the resort. They claim they are doing the necessary environmental impact studies but one doesn't have to be an environmental scholar to see that any barrier visible above waves at Palmetto Bay (as pictured above [click photo to enlarge]) will fundamentally changed character of that beach.

The Merricks resort development has always been problematic ever since they started advertising their "private beach" on Palmetto Bay some years ago. Now it looks as if they are willing to destroy one of the most beautiful beaches in Barbados to achieve that end. I suppose when you are charging between US $ 1/2 M to 2 M for condos and villas you had better come up with a swimmable beach even if you have to make one, but do you also have the right to sacrifice one of the island's treasures? Don't they have enough water and swimming pools in their current pool-deck design for the resort to realize that even the villa owners and guests could come to recognize that leaving the beach as is and/or completely submerging the breakwater could be a great asset rather than the liability they will undoubtedly create for themselves and the island?

The Merricks was supposedly originally coming on stream this year but is now delayed until the end of 2012. In the humble opinion of this blogger who has been following this development for the last few years, most of the problems associated with it stem from the simple fact that the area in which it is to be located is just not suited for the scale and scope of development they have or had in mind. Maybe a small boutique hotel would work here but certainly not Crane II. This is the reason why their plans have gone through half dozen or so incarnations and none of them seem to work. This latest proposal to re-engineer Palmetto Bay is simply just another grandiose scheme to make their bad plans for the area work. The question is - are Barbadians willing to pay the price?
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1 comment:

  1. Isn't the new government going to put a stop to this ridiculous overdevelopment of Barbados' most beautiful and unspoiled coastlines?
    Once it's done, it's done. Once the island has no more unspoiled areas and is overbuilt, overcrowded and over supplied with tourist accommodation, the tourists will realise the ugliness of it all and move on to the next island.
    Barbados is no Bahamas, Trinidad or Hawaii. Barbados has no extra untouched islands to spare.


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