Anguilla’s Premier, Dr. Ellis Webster, acting on behalf of the Government, and the new owner of Resorts and Residences by CuisinArt, American billionaire, Mr. Richard M. “Dick” Schulze, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that redefines and reimagines tourism and accommodation on the island. It is an agreement whereby the hotel will not only transition to its former glory, but become “the number one resort in the Caribbean and in the world”.
The vision, held by Mr. Schulze, also includes the purchase of several high-class jet aircraft to fly guests between the United States and Anguilla, thus eliminating travel difficulties; the further development of the 387 acres owned in Anguilla by his company; and substantial contributions to community and project development in Anguilla.
Apart from the future benefits of the new transaction to the island, it is understood that Anguilla stands to immediately obtain 13 million EC dollars in stamp duty, transfer and alien-landing holding fees. The CuisinArt property was purchased by Mr. Schulze from the family of the late Mr. Leandro Rizzuto.
The signing of the MOU by Premier Webster and Mr. Schulze, on Wednesday, December 16, followed a mass transition ceremony involving the Anguilla Government and hotel officials and resort employees at the Reef by CuisinArt.
Mr. Schulze is the Founder and former Chairman and CEO of Best Buy, the international chain of business enterprises, and owns a number of businesses and companies in the United States. In the tourism and hospitality sector, including his new investment in Resorts & Residences by CuisinArt in Anguilla, his team includes Olympus Ventures and Wishermann Lifestyle Hospitality Anguilla, Hotel Management.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr. Matt Karl of Olympus Ventures, said in part: “It is a very exciting day for all of us at the CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa. Today marks the closing of the purchase of the property by Mr. Schulze.”
He said Olympus Ventures was a private investment company working for Mr. Schulze and his family. The company invests in private and public equities, alternative investments, and operates a private jet charter business called ‘Best Jets International’. The company’s portfolio includes industrial warehouse properties, office buildings, apartments and healthcare assets such as medical office buildings, out-patient surgery centres and cancer treatment facilities. Among other projects, the company is expanding its hospitality holdings to include its first international luxury destination resort.
Mr. Karl spoke about rebuilding the solar power plant at CuisinArt which services the osmosis plant; to rebuild the hydroponic farm; reimagine the spa to make it the best in Anguilla and enhancing the culinary and golf experiences and offerings.
“The planning, design and pricing is underway and will be implemented as soon as practical. For Mr. Schulze, this means “now,” he added. “I wish to thank you all [the staff] for the commitment and hard work that you put in the resort, over the years, and thank you in advance for your efforts moving forward.”
Premier Dr. Webster expressed thanks and appreciation to Mr. Rizzuto, and his family, for providing the CuisinArt property for Anguilla. He also thanked the new owner for his involvement in the property – and the employees for their commitment to the economy and future of Anguilla.
The Anguillian Government leader went on: “Thank you, Mr. Schulze, and your family, for making this possible. I had a good feeling when I first met Mr. Schulze. He didn’t talk about the resort. We talked about people and family. He wanted to make sure that any community in which he invested was an investment in the people…He talked about committing to the healthcare of Anguilla; the community; social projects and making this resort the best – not only in Anguilla, but in the world, and we will hold him to that.”
Dr. Webster told the employees that over the years they had given of themselves to visitors to make them feel at home. “That’s the model we go by for those who visit us: our island, your home,” he continued. “On behalf of the Government of Anguilla, thanks to all who contributed to make this resort to stand out; thanks to all who committed to making this Memorandum of Understanding possible; those who will make this the best [resort] and to show off what Anguilla has to offer in terms of hospitality and making people feel at home. I like the model that Matt talked about, ‘one team, one dream’, because it is only by us working together that we can make things possible – get the best out of each other and for each other…”
Mr. Schulze, the new owner of the property, was introduced by his daughter, Susan Hoff, Proprietress of Fantesca Estate and Winery. Among other matters, she spoke about empowering teams with resources to make the resort one of the best in the Caribbean and the world.
Mr. Schulze said it was a special day for him and his family. He spoke about the importance of guest experience involving the participation of the resort’s employees. He mentioned that at Best Buy there were 127,000 employees, some with many years at work, and that they remained in their positions because they were being treated well. He observed that there were also employees at CuisinArt who were at the resort for up to 20 years or more and commended them for their long service. Referring to his various businesses and companies, he said: “Hospitality is a brand new field, but it is still all about touch points, all about people, all about guests and all about experiences.”
He stated that he and Dr. Webster, whom he described as “very elegant and gracious in expressing thanks and appreciation”, believed in a win-win philosophy, giving back to the community and being part of the community. “You are going to hear about some exciting things over the next several months – of items that we talked about where we can help to make something Hhappen that would benefit the community at large – not just our employees, but the entire community,” he promised.
Mr. Schulze made the point that his new property in Anguilla involves 387 acres of land, and he suggested a number of additional projects that could be established there. These include: restoring the hydroponic farm; arrangements for various kinds of food offerings; expanding the pier at the end of the property for fishing boats to take out guests for deep-sea fishing experiences; water sports; golf and other sports tournaments; a possible archery range; a golf academy; a tropical pool with water falls and other facilities; an improved aquatic playground; a horse-riding stable for guests; a world-class spa and exercise facility; a band shell for live entertainment and movies for guests, employees and community members; and at least one Michelin-level restaurant on the property. He also spoke about having highly-trained staff at every specialty; and arrangements for eye contact – or other greetings of guests by employees within ten or five feet away to make the visitors feel welcome.
“When you have 387 acres, you should make it productive,” he remarked.
Mr. Schulze, known for his love for first positions, said his three objectives were to make the CuisinArt project the number-one rated resort in all the Caribbean; a top 100-rated golf course in the world; and a resort with a Michelin-rated restaurant, somewhere on the property, which people will seek out when they visit Anguilla.
Speaking about difficulties in travelling to and from Anguilla, Mr. Schulze said that he and Dr. Webster had spoken about the logistics of getting to Anguilla – and that there were a lot of steps people have to take to make that happen. He continued: “If we can make the journey here easy, simple, efficient and effective, more and more people would to take option A versus options B, C or D. And so we are right now closing in on the purchase of four Embraer airplanes. The target is every day to bring guests in, and for them to return to Florida. This would be a benefit for guests, for staff and for Government.” He also said that he would work with Dr. Webster to expand the airport runway – a critical requirement for jet travel.
In stressing the importance of family love and connection, Mr. Schulze said that he and his wife have 10 children and 37 grandchildren; and they were all excited about CuisinArt resort and making it a successful and growing investment over the coming years.
He expressed gratitude to Mr. Rizzuto for bringing CuisinArt to Anguilla, thus giving him an opportunity to purchase the property and to further develop it.
He took the opportunity to welcome the new Managing Director of CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, Mr. Simon Fricker, who has just arrived in Anguilla from Switzerland. He said he was most impressed by his regard for culture and how important its empowerment was among the employees. He also welcomed Mr. Iain Mossman who, along with his wife, Liz, consented to join the team managing the golf course.
The remaining speakers included Mr. Paul Wischermann, owner of the Managing Company, Wischermann Lifestyle Hospitality, Anguilla. He introduced his team and spoke about his and their passion for Mr. Schulze’s newly-acquired property in Anguilla. He congratulated Dr. Webster and the Government of Anguilla for their support of Mr. Schulze’s investment, and the Anguilla Tourist Board for its work in the effective marketing of the island.
The next speaker was the new Managing Director of Resorts and Residences by CuisinArt, Mr. Simon Fricker. He said it was his first visit to Anguilla and that he was warmly welcomed by everyone with smiles through their masks. “It is so good to be here and it is a truly important day,” he observed. “We are here to celebrate a new beginning, and I am very excited to take on this great challenge and to work with such an amazing team.”
He said he was in the hospitality industry for the past three decades. He worked on three continents where he successfully operated and positioned a number of luxury hotels. He stated that when he was called about the job in Anguilla “it was almost a no-brainer. I was so excited to hear about it and to pursue it. It is such an amazing place and I couldn’t pass on this.”
The final speaker was Mr. Iain Mossman, the Golf Course General Manager. He spoke about the further development of the course as a top 100 facility, and gave the assurance that he would ensure that every Anguillian youngster will be taught the skills of golfing.
The transition ceremony was a crowded event under a tent-sheltered area between the Reef by CuisinArt Villas and Breezes Restaurant on the beach. The mood was one of overwhelming excitement, high expectation and gratitude.