Monday, Sep 24, 2018
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PM: No gun to my head on Grand Lucayan

The Grand Lucayan resort Manor House Entrance. TORRELL GLINTON

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday that he will not allow any investor to put a gun to the head of the government of The Bahamas.

Minnis did not explain the analogy, but at the time he made the statement, he was responding to questions from the media about the government’s purchase of the Grand Lucayan resort in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

The prime minister is expected to make a communication about the sale next Wednesday.

The sale was executed on Tuesday.

The sale will be finalized on September 19, according to officials.

“You will receive all of that on Wednesday,” Minnis said.

“On Wednesday, you will get a communication.

“You will be informed as to why we have purchased such a hotel.

“It is our job to keep the Bahamian economy going.

“That hotel plays a pivotal role in Grand Bahama’s economy and, of course, it was being negotiated by the private sector.

“The only thing I will say at this particular time is no investor will put a gun to my head. None, full stop.”

The government is purchasing the resort for $65 million — $30 million up front and $35 million on a three-and-a-half-year government guaranteed mortgage, which will require parliamentary approval.

At least $10 million has been paid so far.

The sale is expected to be finalized after Parliament passes a resolution to guarantee the remaining $35 million.

While several questions about the sale linger, the government has shifted positions several times with its plans for the resort.

The resort features three brands: Memories, Breaker’s Cay and Lighthouse Pointe.

During a property tour in August, Minnis said the government will assess the cost to open Memories, despite a previous statement by Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar that the government was only going to hold the resort and not renovate it.

D’Aguilar later said if a buyer does not come soon enough, the government will have to renovate Memories.

However, following meetings with the union that represents the staff at the resort and a general meeting with around 400 employees on Wednesday, Lucayan Renewal Holdings Limited Chairman Michael Scott said, based on an engineering report on the three brands at the resort, if the government chooses to go forward with renovations, the likely choice would be Breaker’s Cay.

The cost to renovate Memories was not made public and it is also unknown how much it would cost to renovate Breaker’s Cay.

When asked about the possibility of renovating Breaker’s Cay, Minnis said, “That will be answered on Wednesday.”

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian this week, Commonwealth Union of Hotel Services and Allied Workers Union President Michelle Dorsett said she was relieved that the government purchased the hotel.

She revealed, however, that employees are owed back pay and gratuities dating to 2008, though she did not want to make the value of the total arrears known at this time.

The prime minister was asked whether these outstanding arrears were factored into the sale; whether the previous owner will settle those arrears or whether the government, which is now responsible for the employees, has to pay.

“Royston, I know what I say with respect to that will be a headline,” Minnis said.

“So, I will allow what was asked earlier to be the headline.

“So, your question will be answered on Wednesday.”

The resort was damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Only the 200-room Lighthouse Pointe reopened after the storm.

As it relates to the condition of the brands, Breaker’s Cay and Memories had exposed cinder blocks on the side of the buildings when the prime minister and a delegation of government officials and media personnel toured the resort.

The ceiling near the Willy Broadleaf’s buffet in Breakers’ Cay was also exposed, showing rusted beams, torn sheet rock and cinder blocks.

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