Cooper: We will ensure resort deal closes as planned

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper said yesterday he understands some Grand Bahamians’ skepticism regarding the announcement of the sale of Grand Lucayan resort, but assured that the government will deliver for the island and close the deal.

“I’ve listened to the reports and I think people are skeptical,” Cooper said.

“They’re rightly skeptical. We saw the previous administration [make] several mistakes in relation to the last deal for the Grand Lucayan resort. It was a bad deal.

“They made mistakes. We’re learning from those mistakes. We have a deal at the moment for the Bahamian people. We believe that we are going to deliver on the promise for the people.”

The government has 60 days for due diligence in relation to the deal.

Cooper said the government is “very pleased” with the quality of the new buyer, Electra America Hospitality Group. He said it is a serious company that understands commitment.

“They understand the assignment,” Cooper said.

“They understand social responsibility. They’ve got their own money. That’s what I want the people of Grand Bahama to know. They’re not coming to us like the other folks asking us to lend them money to buy the hotel from us. There are some distinct differences.”

Cooper said he did not want to dive too much into the previous deal. He said he plans to speak more on the matter in Parliament on Monday.

“I say to the people of Grand Bahama that I’ve been listening as a young man from the days of Edward St. George talking about the boom that’s coming,” Cooper said.

“I’m a businessman in Grand Bahama, with businesses in Grand Bahama, with family in Grand Bahama, and never before have I been as optimistic in the economy and the future of Grand Bahama than I am right now.”

He said he will do everything in his power to help the island. Cooper, who is also deputy prime minister, reiterated that the Davis administration will prioritize Grand Bahama.

He said the government is “actively working towards delivering in the near future”.

“So we’re not going to dwell on what didn’t happen or what coulda, woulda, shoulda happened in the past,” he said.

“We’re looking to the future and we’re optimistic about what we see. We will work very hard to close the deal.”

The government announced the new buyer for the resort on Wednesday.

Electra has agreed to buy the Grand Lucayan for $100 million and has committed to invest $300 million into redeveloping the property.

Construction and relaunch of the resort are expected to create approximately 2,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs, according to Cooper.

The previous administration signed a heads of agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and the ITM Group in March 2020 for the $50 million purchase of the resort.

Royal Caribbean and ITM 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 Davis administration canceled the deal late last year because it was “not in the best interest” of the Bahamian people.

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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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