Cooper confident Hilton closure will be temporary

Although it was set to close indefinitely yesterday, the British Colonial Hilton will likely only be closed for about two months as it undergoes renovations, Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper said yesterday.

He said its owner, China Construction America (CCA), was able to secure the interest of another major international brand to support the Bay Street hotel.

“There have to be some renovations to the property,” Cooper told reporters before the weekly Cabinet briefing.

“We are advised that the property will close for renovations. We hope that this will be a short period of time. We hope that the staff will be absorbed into the other properties [that are] owned by CCA — the same developer that owns the Hilton.

“So we are positive about these outcomes. We look forward to them coming to fruition. But we anticipate that over the course of time that the developers themselves will make an announcement along these lines.”

Cooper said he and Prime Minister Philip Davis have spoken with the chairman and executive of CCA.

He said they have expressed their commitment to The Bahamas.

“We are optimistic about the future and we look forward to the further enhancement of Bay Street,” Cooper said.

The closure of the 300-plus room hotel was announced last month.

Strategic Property Holdings, which manages the property, in a letter to the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union, said the decision to cease operations came after “carefully analyzing business performance over an extensive period of time and the dismal business forecast for the foreseeable future”.

The Ministry of Labour held a job fair, in conjunction with Sandals International, last week to help some of the more than 120 Hilton employees who were made redundant by the closure find new jobs.

Director of Labour Robert Farquharson said on Monday that over 300 individuals were screened during that job fair.

He said about 100 of those individuals were hired on the spot.

It is unclear how many of those individuals worked for the Hilton.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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