In his first National Report post-Hurricane Dorian – Tuesday, February 11 – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that a Heads of Agreement (HOA) will be signed for the sale of The Grand Lucayan Resort and Casino property on March 2.
Noting that the survival of the second and third most populated islands in The Bahamas, Abaco and Grand Bahama, which were severely devastated by Hurricane Dorian, weighs heavily on their economic resurgence, the prime minister stated that the pending sale of the property and the construction of a multi-million-dollar residential resort and marina for South Abaco, are paramount.
“In order to restore the lives of the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama, we must boost economic activity and development, on both islands. On March 2, we will sign a Heads of Agreement for the sale of the Grand Lucayan Resort and Casino. This will help with the long-term recovery and renewal of Grand Bahama,” said the nation’s leader.
“It will result in scores of jobs during reconstruction and development, and long-term employment, business and entrepreneurial opportunities for the residents of Grand Bahama.
“This project, could mean approximately 2,000 to 3,000 jobs for Grand Bahama,” he added.
“Further, I am pleased to announce tonight, that the National Economic Council has approved the project for the construction of a five-star residential, resort and marina development in South Abaco.
“The capital investment, is approximately $300 million and will help in the reconstruction and revival of Abaco. This development will include branded hotels, and a full-size golf course,” informed Dr. Minnis.
He hastened to say that the Heads of Agreement for the said development is expected to take place in Abaco Wednesday, February 12.
“The project is expected to employ approximately 600 people during the construction phase, and thereafter. The project will provide a variety of entrepreneurial opportunities for Abaconians, and Bahamians in a number of areas, including: agriculture, fisheries, heritage tourism and many other areas.
“We will also expand and enhance the Sandy Point Airport,” added Dr. Minnis.
A Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed in March 2019 between Lucayan Renewal Holdings, the Government of The Bahamas, Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Limited (RCCL) for the intended purchase of the mega resort and the redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour along with RCI’s partners, the ITM Group.
During the official signing of the LOI at the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday March 2019 RCCL Vice President, Government Relations Russell Benford expressed, “On behalf of Michael Bayley, the President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, it is an honour to be here today.
“Minister (Dionisio) D’Aguilar; Minister (J. Kwasi) Thompson; Chairman Michael Scott, members of the Board and I, just want to sincerely thank you for giving us this opportunity. This is an incredible project and I also want to thank Mauricio (Hamui), Chief Executive Officer, ITM Group, and our partners at ITM. We have partnered with them on other developments throughout the world and we are really excited about this opportunity here on Grand Bahama.
“The Board (Lucayan Renewal Holdings Ltd.) undertook an extensive search, a global search to really find the right partners for Grand Bahama and we are honoured, really, to be chosen from some really great people, around the world for this project.
It is not only a hotel, not only a port project, a redevelopment; I think it has been referred to as a revitalization or rebirth. We understand what Grand Lucayan meant to the Government of The Bahamas and the folk here in Grand Bahama,” stated Benford.
“We understand how important this is to you and you have our commitment that we are going to do this right; we are going to do right by the Government of The Bahamas and right by the people of The Bahamas, and the folks that live here in Grand Bahama.”
Noting that RCCL is known for building spectacular world-class products, Benford informed that that it is their intention to do the same for the hotel resort and the Freeport Harbour.
“We are going to bring that same excellence and dedication here to this project. On behalf of all of us and again our CEO and our team of about 10 of us who are back in Miami, already working on this project, this is incredibly important to all of us.
“Again, it is an honour and I am looking forward to our continued relationship and the growth of our relationship.”
More recently, as reported in this daily on February 10, Benford was quoted as stating, “`We feel like it (sale closing) is really close.”
“I know that the government, the prime minister, the Minister of Tourism (Dionisio D’Aguilar), everybody is really all in this project. Royal Caribbean is as well,” said Benford.
The Government of The Bahamas purchased the property as an investment from former owners Hutchison Whampoa in September 2018 at an overall cost totaling $65 million.
“The actual sale of the resort by Hutchison Whampoa to the Government of The Bahamas took place on September 11, 2018. The sale included 405 acres of land comprising of seven buildings containing seven million square feet of space; 1,271 rooms and suites; 19 restaurants and lounges; 15 meeting rooms; 45,000 square feet of meeting space; three pools; an 18-hole golf course; a casino; a spa; and a fitness centre.