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The Crane Experience


It has now been 23 years since I moved from Canada to Barbados and began my involvement with the development of The Crane’s real estate product. Looking back, it seems to me that the Barbados brand has made developing vacation property particularly rewarding. Barbados appeals strongly to potential vacation home owners because of its unique blend of warm sunshine, sandy beaches, rich culture, luxurious accommodation, superb epicurean options and the genuine warmth and friendliness of “Bajans.” As a real estate developer, the appeal also lies in Barbados’ socio- economic climate – a combination of a stable government welcoming of foreign investment, the availability of a highly skilled labour force and the fact that vacation real estate has enjoyed remarkable capital gains over the years. Even during the recent challenging economy, property values in Barbados have fared far better than in most other locations.


In 1988, after making the decision to move to Barbados because of an interest in an unrelated business, a friend gave me a tip about a small hotel for sale off the beaten path on the rugged Southeast coast. I visited The Crane Beach Hotel on my first visit to Barbados and discovered it to be a charming 18-room hotel – probably the smallest on the island – on the most beautiful beach I had ever seen, with the historic cachet


of having opened in 1887, making it the oldest continuously operating resort hotel in the Caribbean. I quickly made up my mind to purchase the property and began to plan the development of its surrounding 40 acres.


After the economy declined in the early 90s, I put my development plans on hold, but a few years later, I made the decision to offer fractional ownership in the original hotel. The primary benefit of owning a fraction of a residence vs. the whole has always been that purchasers can enjoy the same “second home” lifestyle of a whole ownership purchaser with a much smaller investment. Initially, I hired an experienced timeshare sales team who relied on the same sales approach as was used everywhere else in the world – offering gifts, free lunches and free transportation in order to convince prospects to listen to their timeshare sales presentation.


A chance encounter early one Saturday morning in 1996, when I met a couple who was interested in learning more about our fractional ownership programme, completely changed The Crane’s approach to selling. As none of the sales staff were in, I introduced myself as the owner and showed them around. They loved it. I explained that normally 50% of our sales income was spent on sales, marketing and commission


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