Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville recently revealed that Central Government intends to reopen West Sunrise Highway, after acquiring four acres of the former Royal Oasis Resort and Crowne Plaza, which has been defunct since its abrupt closure in 2004 following the passage of Hurricane Frances.
The Royal Oasis Resort property spans 427 acres and was once considered the jewel of Grand Bahama; as it had been equipped with a grand casino, 500-room resort tower, 965-room country club and 98 timeshare units in the epicenter of the island.
The once renowned resort, situated next door was the once globally-celebrated International Bazaar, was a premier tourist attraction as it had hundreds of souvenir shops, restaurants, jewelry and retail stores, bars and lounges as well as bustling entertainment center.
The resort had been bought in 2000 by Driftwood Properties, which closed the West Sunrise Highway, the main thoroughfare between Ruby Swiss Restaurant and the Ranfurly Circus to install a 1,000,000 gallon waterpark that had been expected to further enhance tourists’ stay at the hotel.
By 2007, the Driftwood Properties sold the Royal Oasis Resort and Crowne Plaza for a whopping $33 million to
Harcourt Development Group, that had plans to revamp the property unfortunately; however, the 2008 ‘Great World Recession’ reportedly, presented insurmountable financial woes for the developers and the resort never reopened.
The Royal Oasis Resort and Crowne Plaza closure created a domino affect for the once thriving International Bazaar and now the entire property, which had also been battered by Hurricanes Jeanne (2004) and Wilma (2005); a fire in 2010 as well as the onslaught of Hurricane Matthew six-months ago, has complete transformed the area into an eerie “ghost town.”
Grand Bahama residents have advocated for both the Royal Oasis Resort and Crowne Plaza and International Bazaar to be thoroughly cleaned up and for Central Government to have the waterpark removed and the West Sunrise Highway reopen-ed.
However, for sometime that request seemed to have fallen on deaf ears, until now.
According to Darville, “The government thought it appropriate to acquire the land necessary to reopen the West Sunrise Highway, which once served as the main artery of the island.
“Central Government has acquired 4.4 acres of land and very shortly residents will begin to see tractors on the site, whereby we will open up this highway thus there will be no diversion here and traffic can move along right through to the Ranfurly Circus as it once did before the installation of the waterpark at the former Royal Oasis Resort and Crowne Plaza.”
Cleanup crews have already begun removing debris and other waste materials from the property as well as vagrants in the area have been ordered to move.
Published Thursday, April 13, 2017