Six months after the signing agreement between the government and Bahamas Port Investments Limited, the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort has still not closed.
The government purchased the Grand Lucayan for $65 million in August 2018 and began negotiations for a sale late last year, before announcing in March that a joint company of Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and Mexico-based ITM Group would redevelop the property and construct a new cruise port.
“It is close, but not yet,” Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Augilar said during a Ministry of Tourism press conference on the reopening of the tourism sector yesterday.
“You know we signed the deal to sell it and proceed forward on March 3 and then the pandemic hit. We were so close, we could smell the victory, we could taste the sale and then the pandemic came along and caused a renegotiation of certain aspects of that deal.”
D’Aguilar said in June the sale of the property encountered a slight delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the start of construction on the new project to commence in early 2021.
During his national address from Grand Bahama yesterday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the government remained in active communications with the purchasers and more would be revealed on the sale in the upcoming weeks.
D’Aguilar noted, “Certainly the discussions are very robust, I was on the phone twice last week on a Zoom call with the prospective buyers and so they are still very interested, we’re still very engaged and hopefully in the not-too-distant future we’ll have something positive to report. But we are getting there.”
The government continues to carry the financial burden of the resort despite the pending sale, having provided $10.3 million during the last fiscal year to assist with debt servicing obligations for the Grand Lucayan hotel properties, according to the Ministry of Finance’s Fourth Quarter Fiscal Snap Shot.
During the first phase of reconstruction, developers have said approximately $300 million would be spent refurbishing, renovating and reconstructing the 500 rooms currently on the property, with another 500 rooms expected to be built during phase two.
The developers also plan to build a casino; a water park; a restaurant and retail center, in addition to the construction of a cruise port at Freeport Harbour that would accommodate three ships in phase one and up to seven ships in subsequent phases.