The government is hoping that the $100 million sale of the Grand Lucayan resort will trigger a spree of other significant investments for the island of Grand Bahama, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Investments Chester Cooper said yesterday as he addressed the economic impact of the sale on the island.
The government entered into an agreement with Electra America Hospitality Group, which has agreed to finalize the sale of the resort within the next 120 days, and thereafter inject $300 million into the development of the 30-acre property.
“We saw the presentations of at least four bidders, we continue to be in touch with them. They continue to call the [Lucayan Renewal] chairman with some disappointment, and all of them had an interest in the island of Grand Bahama. As you would imagine, a discussion surrounding other properties or other developments so long as they were interested in the Grand Lucayan resort, that would seem like settling if you will or accepting a concession type of property,” Cooper said yesterday.
“The reality is Grand Bahama has some very great opportunities. There are some significant potential properties to be invested in here in Grand Bahama, we anticipate this is going to trigger a spree of other significant investments in hotel and other industries, so when I talk about this being the renaissance for the regrowth Grand Bahama, that’s what I’m talking about. We cannot speak specifically to those other bidders, but the message today is that Grand Bahama is open for business and we hope to attract even more investors to our shores.”
Electra has committed to a luxury lifestyle hotel with approximately 200 rooms and two-dozen villas; an upscale convention hotel with more than 500 rooms that will cater to group and convention markets; an all-suite family resort with more than 200 condo-hotel style suites; a refurbished golf course and upscale country club and golf villas; as well as a renovated casino, at least 11 world-class restaurants and 10 bars.
While an economic assessment has not been completed, Electra Hospitality Group Chief Executive Officer Russell Urban said the pledge by the developers to create 2,000 construction and 1,000 permanent jobs, coupled with the multimillion-dollar construction investment, is expected to have a significant spin-off effect on the island’s economy.
“We intend to employ roughly 2,000 construction-related people and then permanently ongoing about 1,000 people at the resort, so that will obviously be the largest single point of economic impact. We haven’t done a study beyond that, but obviously the multiplier effect will be huge,” he said.
“In addition, we intend to promote entrepreneurship throughout the property, with Bahamians in the entertainment area and certainly the artistic area, so I see this as a very broad economic enhancement to the island.”
Urban said the rest of 2022 will be used for planning the project, while actual renovations will begin in earnest in 2023 and a full reopening at the beginning of 2025.
“It’s also important to note that there will never be a point at which any of 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,” he added.
Cooper said while Grand Bahamians are anxious to see movement on the island from an economic perspective, they should rest assured that the project will commence once all is in order.
“It’s important to remember that there is a 60-day period for due diligence, legal work, et cetera and we are committed along with the buyers to close the deal within 120 days. I know that the people of Grand Bahama have been suffering for a while and they will be looking for tractors and shovels in the ground tomorrow, that’s how enthusiastic we are about making this happen quickly, but it’s important to recognize that there is a due diligence period,” he said.
Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey said residents are excited for the economic rejuvenation the project will bring for the island.
“It means so much to the people of this island. This property was the anchor tourist product for the island, and the Port Lucaya Marketplace that is next door has not had the business that it normally has as a result of the closure of the properties,” she said.
“So, the trickle-down effect is enormous. When it comes to group business and events, this is the place everyone came to, so I can’t begin to re-emphasize how important this day is to Grand Bahama Island and the people of Grand Bahama. It employed so many of our people, so we look forward to this relationship and what it means for the people here.”