By NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor THE EXCLUSIVE Old Fort Bay club yesterday warned members it had "no alternative" but to implement the first ever increase in annual membership dues, raising them by 67 per cent to $5,000 per year, given that costs were "at an unsustainable level". In a January 12, 2012, letter, Hunter 'Terry White', who completed the acquisition of 100 per cent of the Old Fort Bay Club's owner/operator, New Providence Development Company, late last year, said the "dramatic" increase in numerous costs - including utilities and labour - in the eight years since it opened had left little choice. Mr White, in his message to the western New Providence club's patrons, said: "You may be surprised to learn that since the Club's inception in 2003, we have not raised the annual dues, nor have we levied any sort of charge for the added amenities. "The economic reality, however, is that since the Club first opened, utility, labour, insurance and personnel costs have, as you are no doubt aware, gone up dramatically. We are currently operating at an unsustainable level and have no alternative but to raise dues. "The new fee structure, effective January 1, 2012, will be as follows: The January billing for dues will remain at $3,000. The food and beverage minimum will be $950 for the first half of the year. "In July, we will bill $2,000 for dues and another $950 food and beverage minimum, and new membership initiation fees will be raised to $40,000 effective March 1, 2012." Alistair Henderson, New Providence Development Company's president, confirmed to Tribune Business the 67 per cent, or "two-thirds" increase, in the Old Fort Bay Club's annual membership dues from $3,000 to $5,000 - a $2,000 rise. He added: "There has been no increase in Club dues since the inception of the Club in January 2003, notwithstanding the addition of amenities and the dramatic increase in operational costs. "The economic reality is that in order for the Club to be sustained, there is no alternative but to increase dues. The decision to increase dues is in compliance with the Club Rules and Regulations, and it is necessary in the interest of sustaining the Club." Tribune Business understands that the fee increase will effectively leave the Old Fort Bay Club in a "break even" position. New Providence Development Company is also investing further capital into upgrading the Old Fort Bay Club and its amenities, including an improved beach bar and new fitness and spa facilities. A tennis court and refurbishment of other areas is also planned, hence the need for fee rises to help fund the upgrades. In his letter, Mr White noted his transformation from minority owner. He said: "For years, I've been effectively a minority partner in the Club. The White family is now 100 per cent owner. The Old Fort has bewitched me since the moment I first saw it 20 years ago. I look forward to making improvements to the property that will enhance its value to us all. "In the last year, we have upgraded the beach experience by adding volleyball, kayaks, and yolo boards. We have also entered into an arrangement to provide reciprocal memberships with several five star clubs around the world." Mr White acquired full control of New Providence Development Company after purchasing the 50 per cent stake held by Lynum Investments, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Tavistock Group, the investment vehicle for Lyford Cay-based billionaire, Joe Lewis's, worldwide interests. Explaining Tavistock's rationale for divesting its interest in the western New Providence-based real estate owner/developer, Douglas McMahon, one of the company's managing directors, told Tribune Business pre-Christmas that it would enable it "to focus all of our energy and resources" on the Albany luxury resort and residential golf community. Mr McMahon added: "Tavistock Group's rationale for the sale is that we're going to focus all of our energy and resources on our luxury resort community, Albany. It will let them [Mr White and his family] do what they do well, and let's us do what we do well. "We've got a lot riding on Albany long-term. There'll be lots of phases in Albany. It's not something that appears in just two years; it's something that will be long-term." The Tavistock Group, through Lynum Investments, and Mr White acquired a collective majority stake in New Providence Development Company in 1998, when they bought it from the estate of its founder, E. P. Taylor. They took the company private by delisting it from the Toronto Stock Exchange after 30 years of being public. Given Albany's location in southwestern New Providence, and New Providence Development Company's position as the second largest real estate owner behind the Government, with some 2,000 acres left for development, both companies and their respective owners retain a mutual interest in developing the western half of the island in an economic, social and environmentally-sustainable way.