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Sambala Village Sao Francisco, Santiago

First part of the Sambala development open to residents

Daniel Grepne a Norwegian living in England received land at Sambala on Santiago as a bad debt from the Government and launched a housing project called Sambala Village.. After he died, his son Johnathan Grepne who lives in Monaco took it over.

Sambala Phase 1 is mostly complete set on a high cliff way above one of the best beaches in Santiago. Sambala construction is unusual in that steel girders are welded into frames to which are attached doors and window frames. The steelwork is covered with polystyrene foam which is then coated with cement. Completion was due in February 2007, but has been seriously delayed. The Government is building a 6.2km stretch of tarmac road from the Praia ring road roundabout to Sao Francisco Beach.

R from the Canaries was an early visitor to Sambala.

"I was there in July, 2005. I bribed a taxi to take us to the Sambala site, because t's an incredibly bad road up there. The taxi took about 30 mins to get us there because the road twists and turns up and down on a dirt track with big potholes all over the place. We eventually got to a big sign advertising the Sambala development with a plan. It is high above the sea on a massive site covered in rocks of all sizes and shapes. The driver said that in August he had heard that building would start with 2000 workers. We drove through poverty and squalor to get there,with goats, pigs and chicken running around everywhere. Maybe the wages will help these people get on their feet ...but it will take many years I think."

And A from Yorkshire said in 2006 before Sambala was built

"Sambala is an awful site. It is 800m from the sea, but perched on a cliff 300m above it. It is way behind schedule. There is nothing there. Santiago is years off becoming a tourist island, It is dreadful."
M from London found nothing there at Sambala.
"Its got a long way to go. I went out to that supposed Sambala development in June, 2005. The roads are not there. There are just 3 signs. You`re so far out of Praia that when you're there at Sambala your stuck there."

R from Devon an early visitor is more positive about Santiago but not Sambala

"Santiago is very different from Sal. The street markets are colourful. But the Sambala development is too far off completion to be of any interest."

T from the MidEast is disillusioned about Sambala but hanging on.

"We were initially quite excited at the Sambala Development and did decide to try and purchase a 2 bed unit, however the "experience" has proved to be quite a difficult process. We did put in an application and sent of our cheque to K at Sambala. Then despite many mails and phone calls we eventually found the senior partner had died and thrown the project into chaos. To be fair to K I don't think he knew what was happening either. I believe that the whole Sambala project was vastly oversubscribed and if/when the next Sambala blocks are released then there will be a 7.5% hike in price. To make matters worse our friends who we introduced to the Sambla project 2 weeks after we applied have been offered an apartment directly by the new sales director at Sambala, a cancellation apparently. Given the problems they have the feel good factor certainly seems to be waning for us with Sambala. I still believe that the Sambala project has a great deal of potential with the associated golf and marina. However I feel this is now looking to be long term, only phase one has to date been started so 3-4 years from now to complete thisSambala village with building works for the next 8-10. Rental is very important to us and the returns therefore are not readily visible at present. Also the fact that no euro mortgage would be available until completion is a concern when no completion date could be guaranteed. Having said that I feel we will simply wait and see if we are offered the Sambala apartment of our choice, if not we will probably pull out."

O from Birmingham saw it before building had started at Sambala

"Visited Sambala on Saturday - it's a big joke. Miles away from Praia down a narrow dirt track (which a coach could not pass through). It's in the middle of nowhere. And the so called beach can be seen from Sambala plot in the distance over the cliff with no road to connect. There is nothing around - indeed on the Sambala site there is nothing built at all. A couple of lads were there painting stones. If you plan to invest here - you're either crazy or haven't been to visit. PS the Sambala brochure has pictures from other islands."

G is a builder from Scotland has seen recent progress at Sambala

"I visited the Sambala resort in March 2006 and have reserved a property after being given a guided tour by a site agent. I could see evidence of the ring road (from the airport around Praia which will cross the road to Sambala from Praia) being built. Overall, I liked it and think it will be a good resort. I toured the island and think it has great potential with varied tourist activities. Much more interesting than Sal if you want more than just to sit in the sun. I think Sambala Developments will have their work cut out, though, to complete enough properties to fill a weekly flight from the UK. I'm a builder. Some 80% of new houses in Scotland are built exactly this way except with timber. Sambala is building to UK standards and and importing most materials from the UK. The advantage with steel over timber is that there is likely to be less shrinkage in the finished house. Traditional masonry built housing in the UK is going out of fashion. Timber frame kits have been the growing trend for 30 years because you can get a house wind and watertight in 10 days after foundations are laid."

T is an estate agent from Barcelona but did not find Sambala rwealistic.

"The Sambala project is in the middle of nowhere with a route taken straight from a scene from the film Black Hawk Down!!!!!

The Sambala project is however underway but at a very early stage with ground being cleared and roads being constructed and laid by hand, some containers are now on site with a few diggers, I was pleased to see this due to the concerns I have read on websites of people who had parted with their cash, I will forward you some pictures of Sambala."

R from London has discoved another issue Sambala furniture packs
"I have just had the furniture pack literature from Sambala and I am horrified at the prices. For a 2 bedroom apartment in Sambala village the cheapest package works out at nearly £15,000. That is twice as much as I was expecting. Does anybody know of a furniture pack provider that can do it cheaper than Sambala?"

A from Staffs was upset by Sambala prices, too

"I was pretty shocked at Sambala prices. They have given us five options ranging from €17,000 - 35,000 to kit out our apartment. We haven't spent that much in our own home! Has anyone else found themselves in this situation and had any ideas about the way to proceed? We thought about shipping our own stuff but heard the import charges are steep."

S from London thinks its better to buy elsewhere than Sambala.

"There are a sizeable number of Sambala investors, who have not committed to any of the in-house furniture options and may well have to let out independently of the Sambala scheme. I dont want to be overly negative, but the practicalities of their insistence on minimum furnishing standards and not as yet approving any third party supplier (I wonder why), mean that many of us can see the financial benefit of getting furniture elswhere and not taking advantage of the Sambala rental schemes. The Sambala schemes were either the guaranteed 5% return, or Sambala handling the bookings, admin, cleaning and laundry for a percentage, or investors going it alone."

S from Manchester feels that Sambala flats will not let well furnished or unfurnished

" We are purchasing a 3 bed apartment at Sambala and our packs start at €22,000 upwards. Sambala have been slow to respond to concerns., A lot of people feel that Sambala prices are too expensive but that if they cannot afford them, they would be frozen out of the 5% Sambala rental guarantee and the 25% Sambala commission lettings. Amazingly, some people seem quite happy to pay silly prices for Sambala furniture. Maybe these were early Sambala investors who paid a bit less for their apartments.Sambala rental yields will not be high whilst so much work remains undone. We have felt very let down by the way that we were originally given estimates by Sambala of a third of the price. Our quote for oak solid wood is €32000 ."
M from Susex wonders why there is so little interest in Sambala
"I know that Santiago already has an international airport and the quality of the build appears high (albeit slow off the mark) in Sambala, yet few seem to be considering it as a potential purchase. Santiago island doesn't seem to impress and people feel that it will lag others in tourist appeal - in spite of a nice beach I understand at Sambala. Please can someone enlighten me as to the general lack of enthusiasm?"

S from Surrey checked Vila Verde and Sal before buying at Sambala

"Praia is the capital and a busy place. It has a litter problem. Roads are being developed and I feel that as the money comes in the Government will improve the infrastructure and facilities here, first. This island obviously hasn`t got as many beaches, and the other island that I feel would be worth looking at is Sao Vicente. I strongly suggest a visit to the islands and doing your own research before buying. After much thought about what I wanted , I decided to buy a villa at Sambala."

J and G fron Shropshire bought without looking first at Sambala

"“We were looking for somewhere warm in winter because we do all our main work in summer, and Sambala seemed perfect as we also love snorkelling and diving, We wanted somewhere big enough for the family and were also attracted by the prices – we paid £108,000 for ourSambala villa. The only downside is that we are going to have to wait two years until it is built. It is the first place we have bought abroad and we have yet to visit the island, but when I saw a programme about Sambala, it looked idyllic.”

A from Birmingham was an early investor in Sambala

"I am an original investor at Sambala as I bought a 1 bed in the condo blocks over 2.5 years ago. I am absolutely astonished by what Sambala have written to me about the 18months delay now at March 2008..... they are blaming anything and anyone for the delays other than themselves...I have many properties on my rental portfolio and this one Sambala is bottom of my index and I now know why. Yes I am going for them and on compensation as they have sloping shoulders but that can be corrected as far as I am concerned."

K from Yorkshire is fed up with Sambala

"We are all sick and tired of STILL not having any definite dates for completion and handover from Sambala"

M from Mancehster confirms that Sambala communications are still poor.

"Went to see Sambala at Place in the Sun exhtbition at Manchester didnt really fill me with confidence on delays etc. I purchased a 1 bedroom apt in C block Sambala haven`t heard anything for ages! I still havent sorted any furniture package out yet . "

D from Essex has inspected Sambala recently

"Visited Santiago and Sambala in November. Santiago island has no infrastructure at all - maybe in about 20 years time. Visited site and was astonished to hear they were going live in April! Build quality was very poor at Sambala - they were already doing remedial works to Sambala flats which were first to be built. Every beach on Santiago island resembled a rubbish tip - completely gob smacked. Could not get away quick enough."

C from Lancs is disappointed at slow progress at Sambala.

"I got in and was pretty disappointed at progress. It was unlocked, so that shows you how little was in it and the stairs going up from the courtyard had only rough chipboard treads. Based on the Sambala information, I expected it to be much further forward. Getting materials out of customs is a real problem. When I've been out before, the whole place has been swarming with workers like a beehive. There were comparatively few people there this time because very little for them to work with. I saw nobody working , there were some machines, diggers, etc, working in the courtyard. Most people seemed to be working on the new townhouses, though some are still just foundation slabs and I don't believe they have started on the second swimming pool.
Re food, I believe Sambala intend to have someone open a "snack bar" in one of the shop units, because there won't be enough custom for the restaurant in the early days. However, they will struggle to get anyone to take the units until the internal road is finished because of the amount of dust. At the moment it looks like something out of the Wild West. It was very windy. However, in the apartment courtyards, you are not aware of what's going on outside.
Apart from the lack of gas supply - a real issue in my view - my main concern is the access road. The current track is pretty precarious, but it has noticeably deteriorated under the weight of construction traffic. It really brought home just how bad that track is. It's passable, but you have to go very carefully if you have a vehicle that doesn't have much clearance. The road from the resort down to the beach is also a lot worse than I remember it. Without the new tarmac road, I think they will struggle to stay open. For investors who are prepared to cope with it being a bit challenging to get to and from, it will be OK - but I don't think we can expect anyone to pay money to stay there for a while yet. "

W from Worcs is suspiciouis that nobody can report that they have received Sambala deeds.

"A friend has repeatedly asked and had a very limited reply for the delay....On his last visit he said it was basically like a ghost town, nothing open and nobody in sight. He has yet to hear from anyone directly they have their deeds ?"

S from Essex has had an official explanation from Sambala Lda

"There was an agreement for Sambala with the Cape Verde Government, giving them a status as "aldeamento turistico". This should enable them to import materials for construction and furniture, with no import duty or taxes. Now, when trying to get things through the port, the customs have been insisting on full import duty or not allowing stuff to be unloaded. The Government seems to have changed its mind or gone back on its word and given Sambala the lesser status of "property developer". The impact in cash flow terms and liquidity can not be understated. This situation has been going on for quite a while."

G from Lancs found that not much was open at Sambala

"There is a cafe on the beach (not owned by Sambala) that serves good food, although best to have a 4x4 to drive up and down road at present. There is a bar at Sambala that that wasn't open when I was there because there weren't many others staying there. There are pools and sunloungers in use now. No other shops, restaurants are open. "

S from London is critical of the management of Sambala

"I have never come acrosss such a lack of professionalism. Having totally stuffed up, you would expect them to be bending over backwards, instead they are rude, evasive and uncooperative. They have no customer care nor respect at all. It is their management of the clients which is hugely disturbing in addition to their total professional neglect in terms of project management. All in all astonishing really. I would lose my job instantly if I behaved as they do. "

B from Manchester wants compensation from Sambala

"Excuse after excuse is all I am getting from Sambala!!! My apartment was due to be finished 18 months ago and no sign as yet of completion. I have tried to pursue compensation as my contract contains this but have not progressed further - solicitors do not want to pursue this course of action saying area is very grey."

K from London prefers Sal

"I have no bias to either island, but I would say, that a large part of the appeal of Sal is the beach, plus Santa Maria as an enchanting character town where one can explore in safety...this can definitely not be said of Praia where tourists are regularly warned not to venture into at night; so if you buy at Sambala, you are stuck with the resort alone, and anyway, it is currently a long drive from Praia along dirt tracks..another problem is that the attractive beach on San Francisco bay is a long walk downhill, and an even longer one back again..not very practical, especially with a family; in all there is a great deal to be unenthusiastic about Santiago and Sambala...I would suggest, look..before you leap "

S from Ireland is taking legal action to recover his investment in Sambala.

" I now want to pull out of the Sambala project as I am totally dissatisfied with the progress of the work and delays in handing over the keys. I am using a solicitor in Manchester who is confident that I can cancel my contract with Sambala and have my money back He has already threatened Sambala with legal action in the UK and it seems to be working."

S from Birmingham is critical of Sambala but hopes things will improve

"It will prove to be a good investment. However, there have been problems along the way. i.e. Delays, some quite extensive for some investors, furniture at more than three times the cost originally indicated (and you pretty much must have in order to qualify for rental scheme). It is going to be a major destination and a top quality resort, it is just such a shame that poor communication, major project planning mistakes (not getting an iron clad tax agreement for the import of materials), over optimistic timescales given to investors have taken place. We only bought their furniture, because of promises that we would have our apartment by the end of last year. The somewhat obstinate attitude of Sambala has also led to frustration for many investors. These delays have cost many of us dear, with the current dreadful exchange rate. The complete refusal by Sambala to accept blame for the delays and agree to at least pay some form of compensation, even if it is deferred to help cash flow, has angered many investors. I believe that they over reached themselves planning a massive resort and did not do the straightforward basic things right. i.e. Make sure agreements are iron clad and look after your customers. All that said, things are now progressing at pace and part of the resort is already up and running."

G from Birmingham feels it is moving forward

" My wife and I have just returned from our first trip to Cape Verde and I have to say that I was shocked (by the poverty) impressed (by the scenery) delighted (by the Sambala build quality) and encouraged (by the progress that the resort has made). Sambala Village is now 2/3rds completed, the building site section is quite a way away from the completed section. Clearly, we are speaking from a privileged position. Our townhouse has now completed and we have spent a week in it. I am well aware that there are many out there who have not, and are waiting for signs of progress. To them, I hope this proves helpful. Apart from the townhouses, 3 of the 9 apartment blocks are complete (right down to great swimming pools), a further 4 look as if they are structurally complete, but need kitting out, and the remaining 2 are still at the steelwork stage. The apartment blocks are in lines of 3, and there is a large boulevard between two of the sets of 3. This is clearly going to be one of the focal points of the village. I was particularly impressed by the build quality. We may have had to wait 2 year extra, but what we have got is at least as good as UK homes and in many senses better. Certainly my snagging list was short - though none of the baths have chains to the plugs because the locals like the nice shiny chains! We had a meal at the restaurant and the quality was excellent. Main course about £11 and a bottle of wine about £8-12. Not cheap. The planting around the site really is superb. Although the building may have been slow, the plants have continued to grow, so each completed property immediately has an established garden. The complete sections do look like a luxurious holiday complex. The last mile of road is due to be started in January 2010. The last mile was interesting while we were there - as we had 2 days of tropical rain) which washed part of the track away. Great fun in a 4 x 4"

M from Manchester is worried about the cash call

"I know these are worrying times, with the credit crunch and the rise in the euro and the many delays to the build. But to be honest it will not help the cash flow of Sambala if Stage payments are held up, as surely the continuation of stage payments is an important part of the development. Plus new sales have to be made and any negative news is not going to help matters. We ourselves are in too far to pull out now so we are hanging on in there."

C&L from Newcastle are reluctant to put up more money with so little sign of progress.

"My wife and I bought an appartment 1 bedroom from Sambala Developments back in 2006 we have just received a letter from Sambala saying they would like further and last payment we are very reluctant to pay this as the appartment looks like its nowhere near finished we are getting a little worried as this is our life savings now what Sambala are saying is if we send them the money the appartment could be finished in either 12 weeks or it might take up to another 69 weeks."

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