FREEPORT, Grand Bahama —The government has agreed to sell Grand Lucayan resort on Grand Bahama to Electra America Hospitality Group for $100 million, Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper announced yesterday, adding that 2,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs will be made available as a result.
Electra has committed to a $300 million development of the property.
“Electra has committed to a luxury lifestyle hotel with approximately 200 rooms and two-dozen villas,” said Cooper at a press conference in Grand Lucayan’s foyer.
“Electra will also open an upscale convention hotel with more than 500 rooms that will cater to group and convention markets. An all-suite resort with more than 200 condo hotel-style suites is also planned for the property.
“A refurbished golf course complemented by a new, upscale country club and golf villas are also planned. This will be in addition to a renovated casino managed by a world-class casino operator.”
The Nassau Guardian understands that Hard Rock will operate the resort’s casino.
The resort will have at least 11 world-class restaurants and 10 bars, according to Cooper.
He said it will also feature a spa and fitness facility, amenities for children, event spaces, pools and water features.
“Subject to approvals, solar energy will be a major part of the property’s sustainable management strategy,” Cooper said.
“There will also be gardens on property that can provide true farm-to-table dining for guests. Electra has committed to best-in-class recycling practices as part of its commitment to sustainability.”
The government’s agreement with Electra is subject to a 60-day due diligence period with closing no later than 120 days.
Electra Hospitality Group CEO Russell Urban said the group will focus on planning this year.
“The actual renovations – because of the time lag on a lot of that – will begin in earnest in 2023,” Urban said.
“We will continue on through our planned opening of all the facilities in the beginning of 2025 – just to be clear on that. It’s also important to know that there will never be a point where the facilities will be closed in their entirety.
“We will always have a hotel open. We will always be employing, throughout the renovation process, those people who are here today. We will do renovations on various parts of the site on an ongoing basis.”
Cooper said at least 80 percent of the construction jobs will go to Bahamians.
“At least 80 percent of the full-time jobs must be for Bahamians,” he added.
“The construction will be phased with the hotel remaining open at all times throughout. Electra is also committed to using local artisans throughout the resort.
“And Electra has also committed to the use of Bahamian live entertainment throughout the property. All the properties will have unique or internationally renowned luxury brands.”
Urban said Electra is in talks with several international brands for the resort.
“We expect to have at least three very, very well-known brands at the property and you may end up with more than that,” he said.
“So, we’re in the process of refining that decision right now.”
The Grand Lucayan has had a troubled past.
The Minnis administration bought the resort from Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa in August 2018 for $65 million.
In March 2020, the government signed a heads of agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and the ITM Group, which promised to invest more than $300 million in the redevelopment of the property, and construction of a cruise port; however, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed and changed the terms of the agreement.
The final buying price was $50 million.
After being elected to office last September, the Davis administration canceled the deal, arguing that it was bad and promised to find a new buyer.
Cooper said the government “truly” believes that the new group chosen will be good for Grand Bahama.
He noted that the group, whose principals boast over 150 years of collective experience in the hospitality business, is a part of a conglomerate, Electra America, with worldwide assets worth $7 billion in significant holdings.
“Given the Dorian experience, Lucayan Renewal Holdings Limited has agreed with the buyer to insure the first $10 million of hurricane damage in the event of two named storms making landfall within the first five years of its ownership,” Cooper said.
“As a part of the purchase price, the company has pledged $5 million to the Ministry for Grand Bahama’s new unit, ‘Collab: Partnerships for Development’, for community projects and funding for Bahamians to create and grow businesses to enhance the tourism product, in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Development Corporation.
“Electra has also committed to helping to assist communities impacted by Hurricane Dorian.”
Cooper said that airlift is a critical component to the revitalization of the island.
The government has committed to rebuilding and reopening a world-class facility by 2025.