The Renaissance of Speightstown
The north of the island and particularly Speightstown is an area that has seen considerable investment over the last few years and growth is expected to continue. Just 20 minutes north of Holetown, this area of the island has an authentic Bajan charm complete with colourful fruit and vegetable vendors, fisher folk, notable architecture and a rich history. The Town & Country Planning updated Community Plan released in 2017 provides a framework for continued investment and development in Speightstown. Additionally, the Barbados Government has highlighted Speightstown as one of its six special economic zones, designating the area as a Heritage, Artistic and Culinary Centre.
The town and surrounding areas have already started this revolution as evidenced by the opening of a selection of new restaurants over the last two years including the gourmet high-end restaurant, Hugos.
The well-known Orange Street Grocer and the newer One Eleven and Little Bristol offer an unparalleled shabby-chic, beach and restaurant pairing that has attracted a following of locals and tourists alike. Listening to live local musicians while the sun sets has become the norm along this previously underutilised stretch of beach. At the heart of the beachfront, the historic Fisherman’s Pub, which has been operating for over 50 years, serves local fare in a traditional rum shop setting. This mix of “old” and “new” forms a harmony that makes Speightstown unique.
Private Sector Investment
This historic town has attracted a selection of influential developers and business owners with a genuine desire to preserve the authenticity and heritage of the town while utilising a fresh creative approach:
Whispering Breeze: This luxurious 20,000+ square foot villa located on approx. 1.5 acres at the southern beachfront of the town. Completed in 2015, it adds a premium stamp to the town’s real estate.
The Old Post Office: Identified as a National Trust building. The new owner is deeply cognisant of the need to preserve the architectural heritage of this historic property. He plans to carefully restore the property and employ an adaptive use.
The Old Pharmacy: Recently purchased with preliminary plans to develop a boutique hotel leveraging on the worldwide heritage tourism trend.
The Lobster Pot: Construction has begun on a mixed-use development driven by the ethos of “live, work & play.” The project’s developer has a passion for the environment and plans to include a seaside Farm-to-Table restaurant complemented by supporting retail on the ground floor, and apartments on the upper floor.
Island Plates Restaurant: The owners of this family-run business operating in Speightstown for 7 years, are positive about the growth taking place. They have recently invested in a historic home on Chapel Street and will be moving their operation there, providing more space to display their passion for simple food and good service.
2018 Sales: Commercial properties on Chapel Street and Queen Street, and apartments at Schooner Bay, have been sold within months of being placed on the market, indicating strong demand.
Beaches Resort: The family focused resort is scheduled to start construction in early 2019 at the northern end of the town. This resort is estimated to cost US$450 million to build with substantial beach improvement work having already commenced. The added capacity for more than 1,500 guests will provide a massive boost for the area.
The Speightstown Jetty
There are also reports that the redevelopment of the jetty in the heart of Speightstown may finally begin within the next two years. Plans have been outlined and private funding has reportedly been secured to complete this major improvement. This would breathe even more life into this historic town.
Ferry Service: The government has indicated a focus on incentivising and facilitating private sector investment in a regular, scheduled ferry service along the west and south coasts, covering Speightstown, Holetown, Bridgetown, and Oistins.
Sea & Land Tours: There are additional plans to attract private cruise companies to utilise the jetty for unique sea and land tours, with stops in Speightstown increasing visitation to the area and attracting more opportunities for local businesses.
Discussions with a selection of these influential developers and business owners indicate a genuine desire to preserve the authenticity and heritage of the town…
Secondary Cruise Port: Government’s newly-appointed Chair of the Board of Directors of the Barbados Port Inc. Senator Lisa Cummins recently gave a strong indication of the development of the Speightstown jetty into a secondary port for cruise ships could become a reality as part of a new “master plan”.
Other notable initiatives underway include enhancement of the Speightstown Esplanade; the addition of policing via Segway; consolidation of ZRs and minibuses into the main bus stand; and improving sidewalks and parking by implementing one-way traffic through areas of the town. Speightstown is designated a Special Development Area and thus benefits from the provisions of the Special Development Act.
These are all interesting developments and Speightstown seems poised to preserve and capitalise on its strong base of cultural and natural heritage assets to become a unique tourist destination.