RCI eyeing 2025 opening for PI beach club

CEO: Royal Beach Club part of Royal Caribbean’s commitment to increasing tourism in The Bahamas

Royal Caribbean International (RCI) international is eyeing 2025 for the opening of its Royal Beach Club on Paradise Island, the cruise line said in a statement released yesterday.

The cruise line called its very first Royal Beach Club “the ultimate beach day”.

The Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation released a statement on Tuesday revealing that the government has given the project the green light, though final approval hinges on the approval of “a standard environmental impact assessment and environmental management plan”.

RCI President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Bayley called the development a commitment to increasing tourist numbers in this destination.

“The Bahamas has been a phenomenal partner since the very start, when it became our first port of call more than 50 years ago,” said Bayley.

“As we continue to bring millions of visitors to experience attractions throughout Nassau each year, the Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island is the next bold adventure in Royal Caribbean’s commitment to both increasing tourism in The Bahamas and delivering memorable vacations to our guests.”

The statement adds: “The 17-acre destination experience coming to the western end of Paradise Island in Nassau, The Bahamas, will combine the island’s striking beaches with the cruise line’s signature experiences to create the ultimate beach day – the Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island.”

There was widespread opposition to RCI being allowed to build its Royal Beach Club on Paradise Island, which required the government to lease the company Crown land. Some of that Crown land was in dispute, as local investor Toby Smith claimed it was already leased. Smith planned to build out his own beach facility for locals and tourists.

Smith took the case to court and lost, with the judge contending he did not have proper lease agreements from the government.

Now RCI is moving forward with its project while Smith has been left frustrated, something Prime Minister Philip Davis, while he was the leader of the opposition, said should never happen to a Bahamian in his own country. Davis contended in 2022 that a project like the one proposed for Paradise Island should be reserved for Bahamian ownership.

While Davis vowed to terminate RCI’s agreement for the cruise line’s beach club if his party won the government, which it did, his government has now made it so that Bahamians are able to own a 49 percent equity stake in RCI’s Royal Beach Club.

RCI’s statement yesterday explained: “Crafted in close collaboration with the Bahamian government, the new project will feature a public-private partnership in which Bahamians can own up to 49 percent equity in the beach club. Local businesses and entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to manage the vast majority of the experience. Overall, the new venture will generate hundreds of jobs across its construction and long-term operation.”

It added: “The beach club will be made up of 13 acres of land owned by the cruise line and four acres of Crown land. The Crown land will be contributed as equity in the new venture, to ensure a share of the profits return to the government and the people in a first-of-its-kind agreement in The Bahamas.

“This, in addition to a new tourism levy, will go into reinvesting in the local community. The collaboration between the government, the community and Royal Caribbean will continue as the development moves through the stages of planning and completion.”

Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper said in the statement on Tuesday that “It is important to note that the land currently proposed under the project has not been subject to any dispute or litigation.”

He said the project when completed will offer guests beach and water sport activities, as well as Bahamian entertainment and retail experiences.

“The government is satisfied that it has addressed previous objections to the project by ensuring much greater Bahamian participation at all phases of the construction and in the ongoing operations,” Cooper said.

He added that the project will create hundreds of jobs.

RCI has contended for a long time that despite concerns the project would steer tourists away from spending money within Nassau, the beach club will only be able to accommodate a fraction of the guests the cruise line brings.

According to RCI, the beach club will include private cabanas, pools, local architecture, island-style barbecues, live music and local artisans.

RCI said it would reveal more about the beach club in the coming months.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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