Monday, March 09, 2009

Owners consortium bid to buy HVR assets ...

The following "bid news summary" is from the HVR bid consortium led by Mike Ward:

On Friday 6th March a bid was submitted by Mike Ward and his team of Owners at Humber Valley with a view to buying the resort assets and running a successful commercial business.

The plan recognises the problems of the previous management teams and misguided focus, and what is needed to turn the resort around. The previous failed business model of selling land at high prices clearly hasn't worked and any plan with this as the short term model will fail.

The resort needs to implement a successful operational model to bring in local people which in our view is absolutely key to the success of the resort. The golf course would be run by a professional golf course resort management team and would ensure that the green fees would not be at the previous high levels. The golf course is exceptional, won many awards, and we would want to ensure that local people benefit from this experience. We intend to encourage local golfers to play more on the course with special discounts for locals.

Many Owners felt the original HVR strategy was failed by the lack of a planned hotel operator for the resort in the early days. Many successful resorts around the world have the common theme of having a hotel at its centre, and it being the heartbeat to the resort. This would often include restaurants, fitness centre, swimming pool etc. This is key to the success of the resort and the team has already had positive meetings with a large professional chain and would expect to sign contracts with the group if successful with the bid.

When asked about building more properties on the expansion land Mike Ward explained that there were many properties on the original land that needed to be finished first, adding "Building more properties in the expansion land is clearly not a focus in the short term, however there are several plots of land on the edges of the development which have no access. Clearly something would have to be done to bring them services and accessibility"

Asked about the other bids on the table he preferred to focus on his bid which is clearly what is needed at the resort. A professional hotel chain, potentially with a conference centre and a golf course operator is needed to give people the experience so they want to come back again and again.

Asked about other people who have been involved in the failure of the resort coming back he said "Their credibility has been publicly ruined, and the history will make it hard for them to be trusted again. This would be a disaster and I'm not sure where it would lead - they should not be allowed to bid without an investigation into the historic dealings at the resort, sometimes you have to just look at the bigger picture and do what is best for the resort and the local community. This might mean withdrawing from the process and wishing another bid the best of success - it takes somebody who is magnanimous to do this".

The vast majority of the owners would like the owners-led bid to succeed. In our opinion the owners feel strongly that they were badly let down by the previous management teams at HVR and now want to take control of their own destiny. The previous management teams do not seem to be accepting responsibility for the bankruptcy of the resort, and the severe financial consequences for both the owners and trade creditors.

Asked about his motive to get involved he said "it's a case of having too. I have several properties and numerous plots of land. If this resort fails then everything I've spent the last 30 years working for is lost". When making a decision to bid it was not a difficult one because he is so passionate about the people and the area. Asked if he could see himself living in the area the answer was "yes that was always the long term plan. It just seems it might happen quicker than planned"

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