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Minnis To Lay Out Lucayan Proposal

Grand Lucayan

Grand Lucayan

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Minnis administration is intent on buying the Grand Lucayan resort, despite objections from former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said on Saturday he will give a detailed address this week explaining the government’s decision.

Last week Mr Ingraham, former leader of the Free National Movement, became the most prominent critic of the move. In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, he argued that by not meeting face-to-face in Hong Kong with officials of Hutchinson Whampoa, which owns the resort, the administration has not exhausted all options for keeping the development in private hands.

Dr Minnis declined to respond to Mr Ingraham on Saturday.

“I won’t respond to that,” he said.

Instead, he said not getting the property re-opened will unleash a ripple effect that forces the closure of stores, barbershops and other small businesses, in addition to the loss of jobs for 400 people employed by the hotel.

As it acts, a key reference point for the Minnis administration has been the Royal Oasis Resort which closed after Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances hit Grand Bahama in 2004. That affected the International Bazaar, a once bustling Freeport shopping complex the current condition of which is frequently mocked on TripAdvisor and other consumer review websites.

The Grand Lucayan resort, which consists of three properties, has been closed since Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Only the 200-room Lighthouse Point property re-opened in November of that year.

Dr Minnis said: “I think it’s essential for Bahamians especially those in New Providence and through the Family Islands to understand the makeup of the Our Lucaya Hotel. You have about 400 individuals employed there but it’s not the employed individuals that’s the problem here. You also have the Our Lucaya strip and therefore the marketplace that would close. That’s hundreds of jobs. The tour buses would not have anywhere to carry their guests if there are any. The taxis would have problems. The loss of staff from Our Lucaya, the closure of the market place, will have great impact on the supermarket. There would be no persons to purchase from the supermarkets, so subsequently there would be layoffs from the supermarkets. The barbershops would have the same problems, the businesses would close, the beauticians would have the same issues. So it’s not just 400 jobs, we’re looking at the global picture.”

A key FNM policy in the 1990s was selling off government owned hotels; the legacy of such hotels had been waste and mismanagement.

In keeping with his party’s long-held view, Dr Minnis said: “I totally agree government should not be in the business of owning hotel.”

He added: “However, government must look beyond that. Government must look at what will be the impact on Grand Bahama. Do we sit idly and allow Grand Bahama to crash where unemployment will increase dramatically and those individuals would have to come to New Providence where unemployment will subsequently increase? You have to make a decision. “We are one Bahamas. We are supposed to be a family of islands and a family of (a) nation. So families look after each other. It’s our job to protect Grand Bahama and every other island that fall in similar situations. It’s them today and you tomorrow.”

Last week, Mr Ingraham urged the government to buy the Grand Bahama Port Authority rather than the Grand Lucayan.

Asked if he is satisfied that the Port Authority is doing all it can in Freeport, Dr Minnis said “No, I think the port could do a lot more.”

Earlier this month, Paul Wynn, the Wynn Group’s chief executive and the Grand Lucayan’s former prospective buyer, told Tribune Business that Freeport’s anchor property was “not for me” and he “can’t do it”, given that the potential purchase lacked “economic feasibility”.

He argued that any buyer would be seeking the same multi-million dollar taxpayer subsidies that he required to rebuild airlift into Freeport, plus renovate and remediate the existing hotel properties, pegging the latter cost at between $45-$55m.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 1 year ago

Sooooo tired of these "we're going to do something" statements. Just friggin do it and stop talking about doing it. We told you over a year ago that it was critical and instead of action you acted like you were negotiating for it when you were actually negotiating a deal for Nassau.

I trust minnis as much as I trust trump....

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BahamaPundit 1 year ago

Please don't insult Trump by comparing him to Minnis.

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TheMadHatter 1 year ago

I agree totally with Dr. Minnis here. I wish him the best in this herculean effort. The macro-economic picture he paints is completely accurate.

Ingraham should be the last to talk. I don't believe there has been a greater enemy of FPO than he. Right after his win in 1992, FPO started a snowball move downhill. His govt did not re-open the Princess road and he sold Batelco for 3 sacks of potatoes. Took away the immovable property act and failed to implement term limits and recall and FOI.

I am so pleased that our deputy pm today is a Grand Bahama man. Grand Bahama is a very special place and generally only people who lived there and know the history from the 60s truly understand the gemology of it. A rare sapphire.

Best wishes to Dr Minnis and KP and Carl.

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Alex_Charles 1 year ago

Government needs to cut spending and stop their plans of ramping up spending over the next 3 fiscal years as they have projected. Their budget deficits will sit above $450mil for 2 years at this rate. By the time their term ends they would have increased the national debt by some $2.5bil

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DWW 1 year ago

What a bad idea and bad precedent. So they won't grant tax concessions but they will pour our money down a blue hole. Fickle Nonsense Masters?

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DDK 1 year ago

I thought Government had no funds available and that debt on interest had to be paid down as it has just been accumulating for decades and we do not want to end up like Barbados. Were we lied to when we were told VAT had to be increased because Government had no funds? Exactly which one of our illustrious Ministers has hotel management and marketing experience? On the issue of Trump, I see some remarkable similarities, none of them flattering. They both have this annoying habit of playing to their base, as though personal popularity is all that counts.

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bogart 1 year ago

Cricial decisions have to be made not only for the short term but long term and not only involving GB but the entire Commonwealth and in particular Nassau where many Grand Bahamians have moved. While the International Bazaar slowly declined many of the shops moved to the Lucaya area, and again as Roc wid Doc knows the .hotel closure ripple effect will impact them worser dis time.

What needs to be pushed again is the creation of the 50 acre cride ship shopping area with the tract of land not owned by the Port. All the eggs should not be put in one Lucaya basket. As a part of govt investments audits must also be carried on as to reasons GB has not been improving despite so much govt energy efforts and increasing extending Hawksbill Agreements to atttact business and still notdo better.

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TheMadHatter 1 year ago

I agree Alex - but we will lose GB if they dont get that hotel rockin' and we need that by Dec 1st to catch the season. GB's reduced Treasury deposits over the past 30 years is part of the reason we need VAT.

They should ramp down tremendously the talk about monies for family island airport upgrades. Esp nothing for south andros, exuma, or ragged island. Those ragged island people need to move from them caves and join civilization.

They should not have removed VAT from breadbasket items.

We also need a national lottery with just one weekly limited amount jackpot so that it does not wipe out the private numbers employers. Up the jackpot very slowly over a 5 year period. Same model as Florida - the jackpot amount is equal to half of total ticket sales....so that the Treasury always "wins" the same amount (minus operating costs).

Im sure KP will ring my phone any day now to schedule a consult...LOL. I'd be humbled to help.

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DDK 1 year ago

"so that it does not wipe out the private numbers employers" Why-ever not?

Think most jackpots increase as sales increase?

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TheMadHatter 1 year ago

DDK in FL ive always understood that if the jackpot is, say, 54 million in the Lotto, that means they sold 108 million $1 tickets (unless part is rollover of course). So in effect Tallahassee wins every Lotto.

As for "why-ever-not"? Because we can't afford right now to put all those people out of "work". However, by increasing the state jackpot and frequency over time, the state would eventually put them out of business - like 4-7 years time. As the national patronage increases, so will Treasury deposits.

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John 1 year ago

When you make stupid decisions even after being given sound advice they you are a self professed idiot. Everyone knows the millions and millions the government lost when it was in the hotel ownership business. And it never made a profit. Companies that leased the hotels would run them down into empty shambles, then abandon them. And when the government hired management companies, they would pad their bills, pay themselves hefty salaries and benefits and even bonuses and requiring the government to pump more and more millions into the properties. Hubert Ingraham’s idea to get rid of the hotels in the 1990’s was one of the best decisions made by a government. Minnis idea to go back and reopen this financial sink hole begs logic. Common sense even. As a certified accountant, KP Turnquest was supposed to analyze the options available to the government in turns of cost and expected financial returns. Everyone agrees that to keep the hotel closed is unacceptable. Others suggest that government has not explored all its options with Hutcherson Vampoa and Minnis should send his best team of negotiators (not Marlon Johnson!) to China and to meet with the Chinese on their Oriental Rug. Considering the urgency to get the hotel open this is not a bad idea. But to purchase the property and to try operate it or find a management team? Not only is this the most expensive option but it is the most doubtful of all except the government willl now have a hotel in its portfolio. Again! And what about the Wynn Group? Is the difference they were asking for that cost the purodeal to fall through more that what government would spend to buy the hotel, refurbish it and operate it at a loss? Is It? So why not make up the difference, allow the Wynn to operate the hotel. Put a minimum duration of operation and a clause that they must seek an active buyer fro at least 24 months bey ceasing operations. Then what about seeking a new buyer? Did the government approach Bah Mar or The Pointe with hopes of getting them to operate the hotel as a secondary property under their brands? In less than two short years Chinese will be the largest group of travelers worldwide. Yes they will even outnumber Americans. And Chinese Tourism is lucrative. The travelers have money and they spend when they travel. Then there’s the operators of Atlantis and also Albany. In negotiations you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

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John 1 year ago

And remember the entire city of Freeport needs revitalization. Reopening the hotel with no input from the port authority and new New injections into The Freeport economy is truly beating a dead horse

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bogart 1 year ago

Before pouring money into GB which seems inevitable dey needs to seriously look at the .......many ...past govts best efforts includong Papas numerois efforts....last govts Ministry of GB.... to ...invogorate, revitzlize Freeport....and do audits, investiigations....real dead serious analysis despite bestest efforts....not for da lack of trying....dat Freepprt aint moved forward.......!!!...see last week article on Freeport an some areas of concern listed by BahamaLlama....every effort must be made to see dat govt hotel stimulus jus aint to be all....but will attract odder foreogn investors....Freepprt people bein funny aint da only reason.....!!!

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TheMadHatter 1 year ago

Chinese won't be the largest group of tourists. Their economy is going down and their debt up. They are currently thinking of removing the child limit restriction and that will end up costing in social services. Not to mention Trump and Steve Bannon are actively working against them.

The tide is turning globally away from this globalization and diversity foolishness. Trump is not only going to make America great again, but he's gonna send the plumber to deal with all the $h^thole countries. All, including us. So don't worry so much.

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bogart 1 year ago

Tribune article Thursday9, 2018 "Nationalise GB Port? Not for now".

See Comments section and Listing for Select Committee Deputy Prime Minister, all GB MPs to investigate before any more funds are invested by Govt. Full protection expected for whistleblower.!!!!!

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John 1 year ago

The fact is many of the Chinese who will be traveling are retired workers who will be cracking the nest eggs so Trump’s madness will not affect them. And because of his economic assault on China and other nations , many may choose not to visit the US. To the benefit of the Sh!thole nations that the redneck president has also chosen to attack. And if he is successful in rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, the Bible says leave everything in your house and run into the wilderness for that hour of judgment has come.

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SP 1 year ago

Firstly, delivery boy Hubert Ingraham needs to shut up and crawl back under whoever's skirt he crawled out from.

The Minnis government find themselves between a rock and very hard place with Freeport.

In the interest of the wellbeing of Grand Bahama, I agree they have little choice except to purchase the Grand Lucayan resort if Freeport is to survive. However, the best hope of making the hotel a success will require the property being operated as an all-inclusive resort destination, with Bahamasair built into the mix to "shuttle" passengers from U.S. east coast gateways and Canada.

The secret of making it work is to have an ultimate goal of clearing a small $5.00 net profit per person. This "proven" high volume resort destination concept would keep the property regionally competitive, result in high occupancies and guarantee a profitable result.

It will be very interesting to see how this group of newfound Parliamentary geniuses proceed!

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The_Oracle 1 year ago

In his short sightedness the former PM created this scenario when he allowed E.St.George to sell Port assets to Hutchinson. I don't believe anyone can fault Hutchinson, they did everything they said they'd do, including renovate and open that hotel strip: Not run at a loss forever. They have what they want and have reasons they won't do anything else. Look to the Port Authority, named that for a reason! Aside Pindling it has been prior FNM Governments that have given Freeport businesses the most trouble! When your Chamber of Commerce considers Judicial review or lawsuit you know something is drastically wrong! No, look directly at the Port Authority. They are either oblivious to their responsibility or willfully negligent.

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BahamaLlama 1 year ago

The hotel is the Port's responsibility. No more, no less. All you need to do is look at the Hutchison relationship there to see what happened with the Lucayan strip, and why it's not moving now (hint: Hutchison got a bad deal).

If they were smart, - and Machiavellian - they'd let it collapse and blame the Port. Whilst simultaneously developing an alternative plan for 20-30 smaller AirBnb eco-resorts all over the southern beaches to replace the 700 rooms (35 each), with zero licensing and a light rail install.

Then hold a referendum to nuke the HCA and investigate the management, where they buy the port at a knock-down price to nationalise it. Extra points: turn the whole of GB into a free trade area.

The issue isn't the hotel. It's that the politicians have no ideas. Every single businessperson in GB has an idea. Why aren't they being heard? Why does it have to be the government? Like the CoC says, why not allow the licensees to fix it together?

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BahamaLlama 1 year ago

@bogart DPM is good, good friends with the perpetrators. You need external investigators and forensic professionals. Our neighbour 90 nm to the north isn't too keen on the money laundering and trafficking the dereliction is fostering. Start there.

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John 1 year ago

How would an all inclusive resort benefit the rest of Freeport. Cruise ships are not only ‘all inclusive ‘ but the discourage passengers from spending money off ship because they want to hog it all. So with over three million cruise ship passengers coming to New Providence, there is little economic impact. And why should Hubert Ingraham have to keep his mouth closed. Does being a former prime minister exclude him from voicing his opinion? At least it is a more informed opinion than what some of you are posting here.

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SP 1 year ago

Chasing rhetorical questions and debating unquestionable failures are totally nonproductive. People must find a way to get past the tribal bias which allowed a handful of artful individuals to separate and destroy what once was the most envied resort destination and people in the region.

Opinions are like anuses, everybody has one, but not everybody has one that works properly. Instead of berating the governments' decision, people with experience should be offering possible alternative solutions and putting suggestions on the table for consideration.

Bahamians need to learn to pull together for the betterment of us all, like other ethnic groups that are thriving in our country while we continue struggling as sole entities and tearing each other down.

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bogart 1 year ago

@BahamaLlama I didnt want to mention the 90 miles but it is inevitable ....number of cases where human trafficking starts with a powerful boat stolen in Abaco, winds up in the canal and then heads over , case some time ago was from around Bootle Bay area and then the dash across...that very busy shipping lane..Remember the days with the Falcom jet circling and the helicopter casing the small around. Before any money spent, audits are inevitable, every prudent investor knows that even govvernments.

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bogart 1 year ago

@SP...I likes whot you are saying....you should review BahamaLlama s views last week....sheds light on much what has been whispered. Despite past efforts various govts various projects this economy seems to defy logic why it has not moved forward as expected..? Freeport is I bellieve the largest perfect created newest city in the Caribbean having defied efforts to bloom ...and with daily sea air travel to US...could have been perfect..... satellite offering....advantages in business not available in US.......many persons for instance live in Hollaand and worrk in UK and travel back on weekends...Americans, Mexicans,, Canadians travel back an forth commute....daily regularly .....many possibilities.....but this has not happened..?

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