By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday called reports on the push back of the grand opening of the Rosewood hotel brand resort at Baha Mar the first in a series of issues that will plague the resort ahead of its proposed soft opening this April.
Dr Minnis, in a statement on Sunday, said every new detail that “drips out” to the public concerning the $3.5bn resort sheds even more light on the “tenuous, secret deal” made between the Christie administration and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) - one he claimed leaves more questions than answers.
This comes in the wake of a Tribune Business report which indicated that Baha Mar’s new owner was unable to address portions of a press statement released by Rosewood late last month.
That statement read: “Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has been appointed by the Bahamian subsidiary of Hong Kong-based development company, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE), to operate and manage Rosewood Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas, which will open in Spring 2018.”
This revelation pegs that hotel’s opening at roughly a year behind Baha Mar’s planned soft opening on April 21, and four to six months behind Baha Mar’s grand-opening slated for November through December 2017.
Dr Minnis in his statement said that neither Mr Christie nor his “Chinese allies” could produce a “firm” completion date for the resort.
“They have done much to publicise a soft launch, yet we learn that the resort has no intention of advertising that opening. An opening without customers – how sadly ironic,” stated Dr Minnis.
“In fact our government won’t even reveal who actually currently owns the resort under this new deal. But we do know that some of their Chinese allies received sweetheart provisions – such as having the onerous VAT tax waived.
“As is typical, the latest discovery of possibly more opening delays is met with stony silence from the people that should be able to provide the answers. With rising deficits, a delayed opening will also delay tax revenue benefits – something we cannot afford.
“It also could rob many Bahamians seeking steady employment the job they so desperately need.”
Dr Minnis added: “Everything the embattled prime minister and his government has done with Baha Mar has been shrouded in secrecy. Hiding details from the public; becoming unhinged; and having public meltdowns when challenged with new information that leaks out, has become the typical response.
“The embattled prime minister expects the people to simply trust him and his party yet they have done nothing to earn that trust. Moreover, because of their secret dealings it will be the public who will suffer the consequences of their repeated failures and continued delays with Baha Mar.
“This is unacceptable. It is time the people had a government that serves the people, instead of a government that just serves their own self interests,” stated Dr Minnis.
The initial Tribune Business report added that the Rosewood’s Baha Mar property will feature 185 rooms and five beachfront villas. The amenities will include four signature dining venues, including Commonwealth, a farm-to-table restaurant that will include a private Rum Room for exclusive, island-style dinners.
Moreover, the other options are the Pool Grille, Bar Riva and the Library Lounge, the latter of which will feature Bahamian-style afternoon tea and unique tea cocktails.
Prime Minister Perry Christie announced the official sale of Baha Mar to CTF BM Holdings, a subsidiary of CTFE last December, at the time stating the resort set for a phased opening beginning in April 2017 and a full completion by this fall.
However, Mr Christie did not disclose the sale price of Baha Mar, adding that details of the deal are still sealed by the Supreme Court at the request of the Export-Import Bank of China.
The government has since announced plans to table the sealed Baha Mar documents ahead of the April soft opening.