Why invest in Curaçao?
Curaçao is a wonderful island with so much potential for economic growth. It has a high purchasing power and a stable currency. In the 70s and 80s, Curaçao was the main shopping destination in the Caribbean. In these past few years, its neighbors Aruba, Venezuela, Saint Martin, Colombia, etc. have grown a lot while Curaçao hasn’t followed the same course. So, the idea is that Curaçao gets back to what it was in the golden years. Curaçao is just a 25-minute flight from Venezuela and we know that Venezuelans like shopping and they do it a lot at Sambil.
Which sectors are you currently more interested in for new investment?
We are a chain of shopping centers where the tenant mix must be balanced so that visitors do not just want to come and spend time, but that they want to come back. In general, we look for a variety of shops, whether fashion, services, food, among others. We are trying to establish a shopping mall with a variety of activities and stores.
What is your opinion about Curaçao as a product – that is, what does the island have to offer to its visitors?
Curaçao is a fabulous island that we have been getting to know since we started this project 2 years ago. All of us in the team have really fallen in love with Curaçao. It has magical places that I am sure anyone who visits would love! There are hotels, idyllic beaches, good infrastructure, excellent restaurants, and good weather on offer – basically, an island that has everything to be the perfect Caribbean island.
What could we expect from Sambil in the next 5 years?
From Sambil, a spectacular shopping mall with a variety of American-style shops, where people can feel safe, relaxed, and comfortable, with air conditioning. A unique place that we are sure will help the trade of the island, because the idea is to grow together with the rest of the current commercial activities in Curaçao.
Why did you decide to build a shopping mall in Curaçao instead of any other island?
Because as I mentioned before, Curaçao has a gigantic potential that we believe hasn’t yet been fulfilled. There is no other shopping mall and the simple fact that such a spectacular island with all its attributes does not have a shopping mall is enough to make the decision. It has many financial institutions, a strategic location in the Caribbean, where Venezuela is the closest neighboring country, and we know that having a Sambil just 25 minutes flight away is going to mean that Venezuelans will come to visit and shop. Of course the Sambil of Curaçao is for the locals. We are counting, in the first place, on the people who live in Curaçao, and in second place, we are focusing on bringing as many tourists as possible.
Which were (or are) the obstacles that you have found as an investor?
The obstacles have been the four languages and being a Dutch island and for us as a Venezuelan company, sometimes it is difficult to approach Dutch people, and that there are also more than 50 nationalities, which means that we have a diversity of idiosyncrasies. We have adapted very well, but it was not easy for us at the beginning.
What information would be important to acquire before investing?
Knowing the idiosyncrasies of the island. To study the local commerce, not only now but to visualize the future of the island and the scope for growth, to get to know its people, culture, taxes, and traditions. Basically, having the enthusiasm and trust to start a new project that is counting highly on growth in the Caribbean – because we are not just investing in Curaçao, but also in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
What information did you use before your investment?
We did several market surveys, we analyzed the financial and tax advantages and carefully detailed the potential to invest in Curaçao, with a stable economy, a democratic government and a strong currency that has kept its value through time. Moreover, the tourism development, with cruise ships arriving almost every day and flights from many parts of the world. For example, from Venezuela there are 5 daily flights to Curaçao from different cities – Caracas, Valencia, Barquisimeto, Maracaibo and Paraguaná.
Where did you find useful information before investing?
Through several studies that we did, with Venezuelan friends who live in Curaçao, and particularly the need for a different space which the island does not have – the most beautiful and complete shopping mall of the Caribbean, the dream shopping mall of any island.
What advice would you give to future investors?
That they trust in Sambil. We are going to do everything in our power to achieve our objective, which is to have the most complete shopping mall in the Caribbean, and we are sure that this is how it will be! That they trust in the growth of Curaçao. We have more than 20 years of experience in shopping malls, operating more than twelve shopping malls in Venezuela and one in Santo Domingo. We are confident that Curaçao is going to be an interesting market with good economic yield.
What are your expectations for the first year after the completion of the shopping mall?
We are sure that from the beginning, Sambil is going to quickly become the ideal place for the people and visitors of Curaçao. We at Sambil are renting 100% of the units. We are not selling anything because we understand that the business is short, medium and long- term. We are counting on not just the first year but the next 5, 10, 20 and 50 years to come!