Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ assertion that the government would purchase the Grand Lucayan hotel if necessary was a “desperate and knee jerk” reaction to a problem his administration appears “ill-informed” about, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) said yesterday.
While speaking to members of the Free National Movement’s Grand Bahama branches on Friday, Minnis said the government would not allow the hotel to close and pledged that if a private buyer could not be found, the government would intervene and buy the property.
But PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis said, “It clearly is a knee jerk response and is illustrative of my contention that they came to office with no plan.
“The fact that they are now thinking like this also speaks to their competence in negotiating.”
Davis said the Christie administration left in place a deal with Canadian real estate development company the Wynn Group for the purchase of the hotel chain.
“We left a memorandum of understanding in place that only required it to be shepherded through proper legal negotiating channels that would have brought relief to Grand Bahama,” Davis said when called for comment.
“They avoided the purchaser. They didn’t speak to the purchaser for months, I am advised.
“They fumbled the ball and when they tried to engage, new circumstances existed which required a revisit.”
Davis continued, “Their narrative is there is no money.
“They keep saying there is no money. Where are they going to get the money from to buy this hotel?”
While on Grand Bahama, Minnis said, “If the Grand [Lucayan] fails, it will have a domino effect on the Lucaya strip with other vendors and small merchants who sell items to tourists [being impacted], and there will be no accommodation for the few guests who come into your shores.
“So, the Grand Lucayan is very important.
“We had hoped that a private entity would have completed the deal, but some were disappointed that that has not been done yet.
“But be assured that under no circumstances will the Grand Lucayan close. Those jobs must continue. We will continue to search, and if the need arises, government will intervene and if necessary purchase the Grand Lucayan.”
PLP Deputy Chairman Robyn Lynes, who appeared as a guest on the Love 97 FM talk show “Issues of the Day” with host Wendall Jones yesterday, said the government should “keep its hands off” the hotel.
“We could not afford to host the IAAF relays, which I didn’t understand because there were funds that were dealt with through the budget… that were allocated for that,” she said.
“So, if we couldn’t afford to pay for something that was already paid for, where are you going to get money to buy this hotel, to maintain this hotel?
“When the government buys it, then you know the political fallout if it has to close it or if it fails. I think it is just a set up for more mismanagement and complete waste of public funds.”
PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell agreed saying that he doesn’t know if the government has the capacity to purchase the hotel.
“I don’t know exactly what he means by buy the hotel but the price tag on that hotel is quite significant,” he said in an interview.
He added, “I would say that they are ill formed and sound rather desperate because they said this thing was going to be concluded and it doesn’t look like it’s anywhere near concluded.”
The Grand Lucayan hotel closed its doors in October 2016 for repairs after it suffered damage from Hurricane Matthew. Nearly 1,000 people lost their jobs.
The resort features three brands, Memories, Breakers Cay and Lighthouse Pointe.
In November 2016, only the 196-room Lighthouse Pointe reopened.