By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
WHILE the government strategises over the resuscitation of the Grand Bahama economy in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed yesterday that Hutchinson Whampoa, owner of the Lucayan group of hotels on that island, has “suffered significant losses” and continues to search for potential buyers.
This process, Mr Christie told reporters, is a move by the company to streamline its investments and to determine whether it can get value for money from the properties.
However, Mr Christie said, the government is “just a bystander” and will support Hutchinson Whampoa in “whatever it is doing”.
As a result, HVS Capital Corporation has been selected to superintend the sale of the Grand Lucayan Resort, Lighthouse Point at the Grand Lucayan and Memories Grand Bahama Beach Resort, the prime minister said.
He spoke of the impending sale on the sidelines of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Accountants Week at the Melia Nassau Beach Hotel.
“The process is ongoing now as a part of Hutchinson Whampoa trying to streamline their own investments in Grand Bahama and to determine whether there are buyers who would like to meet,” Mr Christie explained.
“It is on record that they have made major investments in hotels and suffered significant losses in hotel operations, but all to keep the economy of Grand Bahama going.
“So they have determined that it might be of interest to other investors to come in and manage the hotels and there are persons who are inclined to purchase.”
He continued: “The government is just a bystander in this process where we support Hutchinson in its endeavours and in whatever it is doing.”
Just last week, the hardship of unemployed hotel workers was highlighted in Grand Bahama as major resorts remained closed for extensive repairs left behind by Hurricane Matthew.
The Grand Lucayan Resort, which was projected to open its doors on November 7, will now remain closed for at least six months.
This leaves around 1,200 workers and management out of work, and many have turned to their union for help.
Michelle Dorsette, president of the Commonwealth Workers Union of Hotel and Allied Workers, said the group has been assisting members, and are closely monitoring renovations.
She said people have received assistance with their rent, mortgages, grocery costs and other necessities.
“Hurricane Matthew has left trails of devastation on Grand Bahama, and our members at the Grand Lucayan and workers at Memories Resorts have been severely impacted,” she said recently.
The Memories Resort, operated by Sunwing, employs a staff of about 800. The hotel has published on its website plans to reopen on December 16.
Ms Dorsette said workers are facing challenges and the union is supporting its members who are facing hardship.
“Hurricane Matthew has proved a devastating blow for our members. The resorts were severely damaged resulting in temporary unemployment for our workers. We have heard from a significant number of members and we continue to render some level of support and assistance on a case by case system,” she said.