Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday the government has narrowed its list of potential buyers of the Grand Lucayan resort down to about “three or four” bidders.
The government purchased the resort last year for $65 million, with $30 million paid upfront. It hopes to find a qualified buyer by the end of the second quarter of 2019.
Last month, attorney Michael Scott, the chairman of Lucayan Renewal Holdings, a special purpose vehicle established by the government with the responsibility
of finding a buyer, said there were “in excess of 60 bids” on the table for the purchase of the resort.
Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet, D’Aguilar said, “We’re focused on, I would say, probably three or four. We’re negotiating quite closely with them. I’m quietly optimistic.”
The tourism minister said negotiations are “proceeding very, very well”.
He said he is optimistic that “something will happen very shortly, so we’ll wait and see”.
“We’re in the negotiation phase, so we’re hedging on what we can disclose and not disclose, but it’s for a reason,” D’Aguilar said.
“We’re negotiating. We don’t want to show our entire hand within the press, so I know you’re anxious for information, but you know we’re doing the best that we can to negotiate and to keep you as informed as we can. But when it’s done we’ll let you know.”
Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley said the company had entered a 90-day discussion period with the government, during which time it will present its final proposal for the redevelopment of the Grand Lucayan resort complex.
“The Grand Lucayan property needs investment in terms of refurbishment; more importantly there needs to be more experiential elements added to the destination itself,” Bayley said.
“That’s what we’re working on, adding experiences so people can have more fun and more interaction with their vacation… So, that will come forward in our proposal.”
The assets purchased by the government last year include 405 acres of land; seven buildings containing 7 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.
Last month, D’Aguilar said the resort will probably take another 12 to 18 months to reopen.
Before the government sells the resort, it is expected to resolve voluntary separation packages (VSEPs) for Grand Lucayan employees.
Last month, 150 line staff at the resort received approximately $3.2 million in payouts.
The managerial staff at the resort is currently at an impasse with the board of Lucayan Renewal Holdings.
Yesterday, D’Aguilar said he met with the managers on Monday and that they are “progressing very well”.
“You know, we’re in the negotiation phase, so I’d rather not negotiate this in the press, but I had a very fruitful and interesting conversation with Mr. Obie Ferguson yesterday and we’ll see where it takes us,” he said.
“It’s a negotiation and we’re waiting for the negotiation process to complete, but it’s moving. We’re talking; everything’s going well.”
Last week, Ferguson, who is the president of the Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association, said he is seeking roughly $5 million for the 91 managers at the resort who have opted for VSEPs.
Ferguson said the board has offered $3.1 million in payouts.
Asked about the amount requested by the association last week, Scott said, “That’s not happening.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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