0

Royal Caribbean Targets Western Paradise Island

By NEIL HARTNELL

and NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporters

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) is acquiring real estate at Paradise Island’s western end in a bid to develop what is thought to be a “getaway destination” for its passengers.

Multiple sources have confirmed to Tribune Business that the cruise line has quietly been acquiring or bidding on properties near the lighthouse that is a key Nassau harbour landmark, with some already under contract.

Government and Royal Caribbean principals were last week tight-lipped on the cruise line’s Paradise Island plans, but did not refute their existence or its likely development strategy.

photo

RCI President and CEO Michael Bayley.

Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International’s president and chief executive, did not comment specifically on the cruise line’s intentions when pressed by Tribune Business last week.

Speaking in general terms, he said: “We’re always looking around for opportunities. Anything we think we can do to help enhance the customer experience, and also the community, we’re interested in exploring. There is always something going on with Royal Caribbean.”

Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, responded: “I have no comment on that” when asked about Royal Caribbean’s Paradise Island plans. He, too, did not deny them.

Tribune Business understands that the Government, while having no objection to Royal Caribbean acquiring Bahamian real estate, has some reservations about approving an exclusive ‘beach getaway/excursion’ type destination for a major cruise line so close to Prince George Wharf.

The concern is that Royal Caribbean would direct all its passengers to this location, thereby depriving downtown Nassau merchants, straw vendors, taxi drivers and hair braiders, together with local attraction, tour and excursion providers, of significant revenues and customer base.

This newspaper’s contacts, speaking on condition of anonymity, said nothing has been confirmed or approved yet in relation to Royal Caribbean’s Paradise Island designs. However, revelation of their existence comes just as the Government has unveiled Global Ports Holding as the preferred bidder to undertake a $250m transformation of Nassau’s cruise port.

This newspaper also understands that there are Bahamian-owned and generated proposals for developing a similar style destination experience at Paradise Island’s western end, centred on the lighthouse and beach, which may rival Royal Caribbean’s plans and are under consideration by the Government.

“Royal Caribbean is buying up the entire western end of Paradise Island, buying all the land,” one well-placed contact familiar with developments said. They suggested Royal Caribbean was seeking to develop a water-based park by combining the properties it is purchasing, although other sources said such a park was not in the offing.

This contact, though, said Royal Caribbean was likely to have been motivated by Atlantis’s success in attracting its passengers - and those of other cruise lines - to its facilities, and especially its water-based theme park, on day passes.

“Atlantis’s biggest business is the day visitors from the cruise ships,” the source said. “If Royal Caribbean is only getting 30-40 percent of what they pay, why not build their own water park so they make 100 percent of what Atlantis is making?”

It is unclear whether the cruise line will seek to lease the lighthouse and surrounding beach area, which sits on Crown Land and is thus owned by the Government. It is thought the Government would be reluctant to agree to this - especially to a non-Bahamian interest.]

One realtor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he was aware of Royal Caribbean’s interest in, and activity on, western Paradise Island. “There is one piece that I know they’ve bought” he said.

“They have under contract the western end of the island. It’s definitely in the works. We don’t know what they’re actually proposing. We were assuming it was to take people over there.” Another contact pointed out that the western end of Paradise Island was zoned commercial, and that it had become a residential setting “by accident”.

Several properties on Paradise Island’s western end have been on the market in recent years. Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage’s property, Kilkee House, was put up for auction in 2016, while art dealer Gilbert Lloyd, whose father co-founded the Marlborough Gallery, was said to be seeking near-$16m when his property was advertised for sale in 2017.

Tribune Business was told that Royal Caribbean has been acquiring, and seeking to acquire, properties extending from the boundaries of the Government’s Crown Land up to the property owned by Sterling Financial Group chief, David Kosoy. There were also suggestions it was interested in land near the Yoga retreat and former Club Med.

Royal Caribbean’s last year said it will “bring closer” to 2m visitors to The Bahamas by 2020-2021, marking a two-thirds increase in just two to three years.

Mr Bayley said then that the cruise line was likely to exceed its own projections of bringing 1.75m passengers - a 45.8 percent increase - to The Bahamas within that timeframe. It therefore makes sense that it would seek new destinations and experiences in The Bahamas to match the increase in customer base.

The Royal Caribbean chief also pledged that it will grow its current estimated $300-$350m annual Bahamas economic impact, adding that it was mindful of the need to strike a “balance” between calls on Nassau and visits to its Coco Cay private island in the Berry Islands.

The latter property is currently undergoing a $240m upgrade and expansion, which will largely be completed by May 2019 and facilitate the hiring of a further 100-120 Bahamians to join the 250 already employed at Coco Cay by Royal Caribbean.

Comments

DDK 1 year, 4 months ago

The big boys are fighting over our lovely little islands and just guess who will be the usual Bahaman beneficiaries. SMT. There is a race to the decimation of 700 Islands in the Sun!

1

Islandboy242242 1 year, 4 months ago

There are some properties there that can use some help but I don't think RCL is the right fit. Guess they'll be adding "restoration of the lighthouse" in their offer to sweeten the pot.

0

TalRussell 1 year, 4 months ago

If it won't amaze VAT strapped comrade Out islanders to have their prime minister takes special plane out Nassau, just be braggadocios about the amount of money his Imperial red cabinet have stood Out Islanders in debt individually for well over $7,000 in just the first 609 days the reds tooks power over Colony of Out Islanders.
Yes, no - can you imagine the amount each Out Islanders be beholding in debt beyond their original $7,000 - outstanding on ledger Imperial reds over the remaining 1,214 days left in comrade Minnis's and KP's governing days..... can't just make such stuff up, yes, no?

1

John 1 year, 4 months ago

So everyone building their own ports now. This one here and that one there. So will customs and immigration and other agencies have enough manpower to manage there private facilities? So it will no longer be ‘we took a cruise to Nassau, Bahamas,’ but ‘we took a cruise to some little Cay in The Bahamas. Didn’t get to see if do nothing much because it was all cruise ship passengers and the few Bahamians that work in the Cay. So does this mean more dredging or will the ships be docking off island?

1

truetruebahamian 1 year, 4 months ago

Just write Minnis a cheque and he will sell them everything. I'm surprised that Pindling didn't do this years ago. Just... NO Sell our history for a bunch or looters and modern day legally protected pirates - hanging is too good for them!

0

truetruebahamian 1 year, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

0

TalRussell 1 year, 4 months ago

Yes, yes and yes, can't fault Royal Caribbean International’s president and chief executive Comrade Michael for wanting protect revenue to pay bills with some profits massive ships Royal builds for their fleet ships the likes the Symphony of the Seas that needs stack 12 decks with 6,680-passengers offering them restaurants and activities - designed not them go want go ashore mix with natives and be tempted contribute a little something into the local merchants, vendors and operators cash registers, yes no? Royal's 6,680 cruise passengers is more warm bodies stacked 12 decks high than Atlantis can expect check into their 2,317 hotel rooms on their best guests day, yes, no?

0

John 1 year, 4 months ago

Hope government is figuring ways to tax these floating cities since they will no longer be contributing to our local economy...the cruise business has gone Amazon.

0

Economist 1 year, 4 months ago

This is very bad news for Bahamians. The Cruise Line companies make all the money on the tours. Now they will own the restaurants (sure a Bahamian may operate it but the rent OMG).

Look at Great Harbour Cay with these two island ports.

See any rich Bahamians living on Great Harbour Cay even though hundreds of thousands of tourist go right next door? Just a few low paying jobs, that's all.

If Rcl gets the western end of Paradise Island, Nassau may as well shut down.

0

TalRussell 1 year, 4 months ago

Amen ma comrade Economist, the Colony of Out Islands were at their best when all was so much simpler and the natives friendly as hell, yes, no.... is there even any calypso entertainers left be enjoyed anywhere by visiting tourists, yes, no. They even tried turn we beloved Junkanoo into some kinds disgusting naked booty and much more exposed Trini Kanaval?

0

ThisIsOurs 1 year, 4 months ago

Something isn't right. Everybody can see our value but the government. Something is not right.

0

ThisIsOurs 1 year, 4 months ago

Which govt would approve this? Build a gigantic port development in one location then redirect all the passengers somewhere else

0

professionalbahamian 1 year, 4 months ago

Leave the west end of PI as it is!

Think what people want to see when they enter Nassau.

Developers see abeutiful place and get attracted to it- then it seems they just screw it up.

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 4 months ago

D'Aguilar, Symonette and Minnis are the three behind all of this obnoxious giving away of our most precious and scarce resource to foreign corporate interests, i.e. our land; and all three of them have very well funded foreign bank accounts that they do not wish for us to know about. Never before have seen a Bahamian government so focused on selling vast amounts of our very limited land heritage to foreign corporate interests. These foreign cruise ship companies believe in all of the pie for themselves; they do not partner and do not share once the deal is closed. There will therefore be a very limited number of low paying job opportunities for Bahamians at best. We know this well from all of our past dealings with the various cruise line owners. Something is terribly amiss here.

0

bhilton 1 year, 4 months ago

Absolutely horrified at how our country is being ruined by foreign big money. Nothing for Bahamians yet again. This must be stopped.

0

Sign in to comment