March 30, 2022
Luxuria Lifestyle Caribbean & Miami interviews Sir Paul Altman
Sir Paul Altman is the Managing Director of Altman Real Estate, the Caribbean’s leading Real Estate Company. He has been at the forefront of developments in Barbados’ luxury residential market and was instrumental in the establishment of the Royal Westmoreland golf residential community; the development of the highly successful Sugar Hill Resort, and helped to set the tone for resort communities in Barbados. He is currently also the Chairman of Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, Barbados’ first mixed-use centre. Sir Paul is passionate about the preservation of historic buildings and is involved in urban renewal programs in Speightstown, Holetown and Bridgetown. He was honoured with the title of Knight Bachelor in 2016.
You’ve been at the forefront of real estate for 40 years. Can you tell us about the beginnings of your business?
We started at the beginning of development here. Most people would say that tourism started officially around independence in 1966, although some say it started before then. Sandy Lane was built in 1960 and the Hilton in 1966 which are two of the iconic properties that represented luxury tourism at that time. We got involved in an already existing business and we saw that there was a massive opportunity in Barbados because of connections with some British “signature” people who used to come here, like Ronald Tree, the Cunards, and the Guinness family. More and more of these names started coming in.
Our company started managing their properties and helping them look after their businesses, which began to mushroom over time. When Concorde started flying to Barbados, it set our business apart from everywhere else. At that time, Concorde only flew to New York or Barbados, so people only had two choices if they wanted to fly by Concorde. They could get from London to Barbados in three and half hours, which was crazy!
What is that special thing for you about Barbados?
I love that we are admired as a people; we all feel that way here. We have the ability to talk to everyone; we are not intimidated by people from the outside because we feel equal to everyone else. As many Barbadians have travelled and worked overseas, we have a worldly sense. We’ve been to these places, so we know how you do your thing, and we know how we do ours – and we think ours is better! It doesn’t hurt to have a beautiful island either, and of course, our history is fascinating. That is why we think you need to come and enjoy what we have in Barbados.
What has the welcome stamp meant for the country?
Many people who came to work remotely due to the pandemic discovered that there was a way to continue both their business and lifestyle here, and moreover improve that lifestyle.
People started thinking that it was so lovely in Barbados that they should buy a home here. And now they are living here, enjoying the people, the climate, the hospitality, and the environment and now they are starting to wonder if there is an opportunity for them to do business here.
Barbados is not for everyone, and we want the right people to come – we only want those that understand the true values of what this world is all about. We’ve become more selective, and it has changed Barbados. Before this, the average Barbadian sometimes felt the tourists were coming here and taking away from them. But now, the average Barbadian is loving it because they’re seeing that these visitors want to meet them, understand them, and share with them.
Can you tell us more about the lifestyle in Barbados?
Lifestyle starts with people who like to sit on a beach and watch the fishermen bring in their catch and cook it on the beach. That is the quaintness that people already love and which already exists in Barbados. But they also love to go and play golf on an excellent course, which we have, they love to go to the beach and on a boat, which we have, and they love to go to nice restaurants, which we also have.
People love to understand the culture of the place, and indeed increasing numbers are doing heritage tours. I myself was involved with creating two museums, and they are getting a lot more people now.
Limegrove is a world-class unique facility offering retail and restaurants. Can you tell us about your plans to develop it further?
We started with the “retail mixed-use”, as we called it. There is also a residential component with apartments and now we’ve decided to have a hotel. We want to do something different. A boutique hotel, branded as Limegrove by one of the big names instead of the other way around. We will also be putting in a gourmet-style supermarket.
What is luxury for you?
Luxury, for me, is reaching a point where you don’t have to define it. A point where you just know that the natural surroundings are in sync with what you enjoy. That is luxury. And whether that is walking on the beach or whether that is coming and eating in the fanciest restaurant or shopping in the nicest store or chatting with the nicest people, that is luxury.
You don’t have to define it; you just enjoy it.