Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday it will probably take another 12 to 18 months for the Grand Lucayan to reopen.
The government purchased the resort last year for $65 million. It hopes to find a qualified buyer by the end of the second quarter of 2019.
“As it relates to the Grand Lucayan, that’s a work in process and probably will be for the next 12 to 18 months to find a buyer, for them to reinvest, to bring the property up to speed, to create a destination [that] people want to visit and to fly in or come by cruise ship to want to visit. So that’s where we are with that,” D’Aguilar said.
He added: “It obviously depends on the deal that you strike and it obviously depends on the investment [of] the person who’s coming in.
“If I had to pick a time, that’s the time I’d pick, but obviously if someone comes in and they’re going to take two years to construct or redevelop – you know, it’s very difficult at this point in time…to set a specific time period when this will be done. I can’t do that. It depends on the deal that we strike.”
Lucayan Renewal Holdings, which is chaired by attorney Michael Scott, is a special purpose vehicle established by the government with the purpose of handling the process and is also responsible for finding the buyer.
The assets purchased include 405 acres of land; seven buildings containing seven million square feet of space; 1,271 rooms and suites; 19 restaurants and lounges; 15 meeting rooms; 45,000 square feet of meeting space; three pools; an 18-hole golf course; a casino; a spa; and a fitness center.
On Monday, Scott said there is “in excess of 60 bids” on the table for the purchase of the resort.
He said all the interested buyers had submitted their proposals before the deadline of February 15.
When asked if the government anticipates the resort being sold and operational by the summer, D’Aguilar said, “Will it be ready by the summer? Probably not. There will be some programs that the Ministry of Tourism will hopefully undertake to boost the tourism during the summer period.”
He added: “It’s a process. We obviously bought the hotel and it’s not going to be an instantaneous turnaround. Our position was to buy it for its onward sale to an operator.
“You know, the government of The Bahamas, and I’ve said this a thousand times, should not be in the business of running hotels and we do not want to be in the business of running hotels. We’re encouraged by the process thus far. There seems to be interest. There seems to be people that are interested in purchasing the hotel so we remain optimistic.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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