It’s not that Hotel Corporation Chairman Michael Scott is no longer intimately involved in the sale of Freeport’s Grand Lucayan resort, but rather he’s been advised not to speak on the sale without government approval, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar insisted yesterday.
When contacted by Guardian Business last week regarding whether the property would reopen on February 1 as has been previously announced, Scott – who is also chairman of Lucayan Renewal Holdings, the government-established special purpose vehicle (SPV) tasked with preparing the Grand Lucayan resort for a buyer – said he was no longer involved in negotiations.
Despite the February 1 target being less than one week away, D’Aguilar did not say definitively if the property – which the government purchased two years ago for $65 million – would open.
“He’s not, not involved. I just asked him to let’s get together before we comment. So, he is still the chairman, he’s still in charge of the Hotel Corporation,”
“The matter of the Grand Lucayan is very sensitive, it’s at the government level and I’ve just asked him not to comment until the government has concluded on its deliberations.”
The government has been seeking to finalize a sale agreement with Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and ITM Group for the redevelopment of the Grand Lucayan.
Scott categorized it last month as a “bad de4al” for the Bahamian people.
D’Aguilar has said while the deal is not the same as it was prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, it is not a bad deal and he is encouraged that the principals are still interested in moving forward with the purchase, despite the impact of the pandemic on the tourism and cruise industries.
At the signing ceremony last March, the government revealed that the purchasers of the Grand Lucayan would invest around $300 million into the hotel property to “refurbish, renovate and reconstruct 500 rooms in the first phase; and another 500 rooms along with 500 villas in the second phase.”