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May 11, 2006

New York Firm, Belfonti Capital Partners, Acquires Aruba Resort for $230M

Posted in: Aruba,Business,Natalee Holloway

As reported earlier, Belfonti Capital Partners based out of New York City has purchased the Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino, formerly known as Wyndham Resort for $230 million from Aruba Hotel Enterprises NV.

“You could say it was a four-country transaction,” Belfonti told CPN this afternoon. “It was very complicated in terms of tax law. There’s no rush to get out of it to pay anybody back, which isn’t always the case with institutional deals.” With this acquisition being the first of this type for the firm, Belfonti Capital Partners plans to re-flag the property as well as put it through a $20 million rehabilitation. “We’re really value-added investors, and we see enormous potential.”

One of the more peculiar things that Michael Belfonti said regarding the acquisition of the Wyndam was the following. I hope this was just for the presser and not what he actually told investors.

“The island of Aruba is just a terrific place,” Michael Belfonti, chairman of Belfonti Capital Partners, said. “It is hurricane free, and tourism is increasing every year.”
(Commercial Property News)

REALLY? I may have to a bridge to sell you if that is the case.

I guess Michael Belfonti does not read Scared Monkeys or Amigoe, AM Digital or Diario for that matter. If he had he would have read the following information. Increasing? You may want to rethink that model.

While Minister of Tourism continues to hide, Tourism is faltering

ORANJESTAD (AAN) — Aruba’s pillar of the economy, tourism, is not well placed and as aren’t its foundation as was the case 7 years ago, because in the last 4 years tourism has been going backwards.

Not even when the MEP government tried to let people believe that tourism has increased, the reality shows that hotels are not filling up anymore as they once were, and worse now in this season in which it’s increasingly clear that things do not bode well.

Cruise ship tourism has decreased and the quantity of passengers who have transited [through Aruba] has also dropped, while hotels which were once at 100% occupancy in high season, now painfully reach a 60% rate of occupancy.

Amigoe: Number of Airport passengers in Aruba dropped vigorously by 12.8 percent (1st Qtr 2006)

With 250.585 American passengers, the percentage is lower than last year in the first quarter, namely 15 percent.

Diario: AOL survey shows that 72% less Americans are likely to visit Aruba now

Let us not forget this bright economic indicator, Amigoe: Central Bank of Aruba is concerned

Amigoe: Carnival takes Aruba off their list of destinations (aka: Its not you, its me)

Cruise Company Carnival takes Aruba off her 7-day ‘South Caribbean’ journeys. Curacao or Bonaire will not replace Aruba. Barbados is the most southern destination of the popular Carnival in the Caribbean.

AM Digital: Fewer Airline Passengers in 4th Quarter to Aruba

Amigoe: (Aruba) Growth Tourism is Dropping

More worrisome are the figures from the state New York. The majority of the American tourists come from this state (NY), about 17 percent of the total. In relation to 2003, 2004 had a growth of 13.47 percent, which dropped to 9.1 percent in the first quarter of 2005. At the end of June, the growth was just 3.19 percent and at the end of October the growth was negative 3.07 percent.

Natalee Holloway: Fewer Airline Passengers to Aruba in the third quarter of 2005 and “The Prefect Storm”

The 3.5% decrease must have been eye opening for the tourism officials in Aruba.

That being said the more telling tourism numbers will be during the 4th quarter of 2005 and the 1st quarter if 2006 when people will have a greater lead time to determine their travel destinations and during the height of the Aruba travel season.

Fewer airline passengers to Aruba in the third quarter of 2005

Although the number of passengers that go through Queen Beatrix International Airport are down this third quarter, -3.5% compared to the same quarter last year, aircraft movements are up 6.2%.

More Fall Out from the Tourism Figures. Amigoe: Uncertainty about tourism figures

It is not clear whether the tourism is affected by the Natalee Holloway case. Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) has not announced yet how many tourists had visited Aruba between July and September. The October figures show a drop. “Very bad, Aruba’s economy depends on the tourism. We must know what the situation is”, is the opinion of the AVP.

According to the Bank, the cruise passengers have dropped with almost 40 percent in October of this year. The hotel occupancy was almost 78 percent in October.

According to AAA-director Peter Steinmetz, the 2004 amount of passengers (1.7 millions) is not feasible in 2005. His opinion is that this has directly to do with the disappeared American teenager, Natalee Holloway.

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