Royal Caribbean Is Buy­ing the Ba­hamas’ Grand Lu­cayan Re­sort

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - ---Caribbean Jour­nal

Grand Ba­hama’s big­gest re­sort is be­ing sold to an un­ex­pected buyer. Cruise gi­ant Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional, in a joint ven­ture with Mex­ico’s ITM, has signed a let­ter of in­tent to pur­chase the Grand Lu­cayan Re­sort. The deal is ex­pected to trans­form the re­sort and de­velop the har­bour in Freeport into a des­ti­na­tion prod­uct cen­tered around wa­ter­based ad­ven­ture theme parks, ac­cord­ing to the govern­ment of the Ba­hamas.

The move comes less than a year af­ter the Ba­hamas’ govern­ment pur­chased the Grand Lu­cayan from for­mer owner Hutcin­son Wham­poa, pledg­ing to save the jobs of the nearly 400 Ba­hami­ans who worked at the prop­erty “un­til it was ready to be sold again.” And that’s pre­cisely what the govern­ment did. “We have done what we said we would do—in the face of much crit­i­cism the Govern­ment of the Ba­hamas pur­chased the Grand Lu­cayan

Re­sort for $65 mil­lion and we said that we would hold it for the short­est pe­riod of time and sell it for $65 mil­lion—and we have done ex­actly that,” said Ba­hamas Tourism Min­is­ter, Dion­i­sio D’Aguilar.

“I am pleased to an­nounce to the peo­ple of Grand Ba­hama and to the en­tire Ba­hamas that the much an­tic­i­pated sale of the 217-acre Grand Lu­cayan re­sort has fi­nally been agreed upon,” added D’Aguilar. “The de­vel­op­ment that will roll out in Grand Ba­hama over the next 24-36 months will go far in restor­ing the is­land’s econ­omy to its for­mer glory days.” Ba­hamas Min­is­ter of State for Grand Ba­hama Kwasi Thomp­son said the first phase of the new project would en­tail a $195 mil­lion in­vest­ment, in­clud­ing the $65 mil­lion pur­chase price. The plan is to both re­de­velop Freeport Har­bor and trans­form the Grand Lu­cayan into a theme park that in­cludes a five-star ho­tel, along with din­ing, gam­ing and en­ter­tain­ment op­tions.

“The re­de­vel­op­ment of Freeport Har­bor is an­tic­i­pated to in­clude sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in cruise ship ar­rivals, bring­ing an ad­di­tional ap­prox­i­mately two mil­lion pas­sen­gers an­nu­ally, with the ad­di­tion of mul­ti­ple cruise lines call­ing on Grand Ba­hama,” Thomp­son said.

In a state­ment, Royal Caribbean said the de­ci­sion is like a “per­fect fit.” “This is an in­cred­i­ble project and I want to thank the Ba­hamian Govern­ment for giv­ing us this op­por­tu­nity in Grand Ba­hama,” said Rus­sell Ben­ford, vice pres­i­dent of govern­ment re­la­tions for the Amer­i­cas at Royal Caribbean. “We are hon­oured to have been cho­sen from some re­ally great peo­ple and com­pa­nies around the world for this project.

“We un­der­stand what Grand Lu­cayan means to the Govern­ment of the Ba­hamas and to the peo­ple of Grand Ba­hama and so you have our com­mit­ment that we will do this project right and we will do right by the govern­ment and the peo­ple of the Ba­hamas,” he said. “We build spec­tac­u­lar world class prod­ucts and we will bring that same ex­cel­lence and ded­i­ca­tion here to this project in Grand Ba­hama.”

The move is be­ing un­der­taken in a ven­ture with ITM, a Mex­i­can travel gi­ant be­hind sev­eral ma­jor cruise ports in the re­gion, in­clud­ing Costa Maya and the Port of Roatan in Hon­duras, among oth­ers. The move also re­in­forces the Ba­hamas’ push to so­lid­ify its po­si­tion as a global leader in the cruise in­dus­try, com­ing a month af­ter the an­nounce­ment of a high-pro­file plan to trans­form the Port of Nas­sau.

Ed­i­tor’s Note: Mean­while Saint Lu­cian prime min­is­ter, Allen Chas­tanet, with the min­is­ter for ports, Stephenson King, trav­elled to the United King­dom to meet with cruise in­dus­try lead­ers to dis­cuss op­ti­miz­ing the Saint Lu­cia’s ports.

The Ba­hamian govern­ment, af­ter just about seven months of own­er­ship, is sell­ing grand Lu­cayan Re­sort.

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