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Covid Takes Toll On Lucayan Deal

The Grand Lucayan resort in Grand Bahama.

The Grand Lucayan resort in Grand Bahama.

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

OFFICIALS are still reviewing a proposed post-COVID deal by Royal Caribbean and the ITM Group for the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort, according to State Minister for Finance Kwasi Thompson who lamented that the terms are “not as favourable as before”.

Meanwhile, he said a final decision on whether the resort in Grand Bahama will reopen next month will be made shortly.

Mr Thompson, who is also minister of state for Grand Bahama, indicated that the inactivity at the Grand Lucayan hotel and the cruise port in Grand Bahama remains a challenge for the island.

While providing an update on the hotel on Saturday at a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in Grand Bahama, Mr Thompson said the government must ensure that whatever deal is made leaves Grand Bahama better off than it is now.

Royal Caribbean and the ITM Group have proposed a post-COVID deal/plan to purchase the Grand Lucayan Resort and redevelopment of Freeport Harbour.

Mr Thompson said the government is continuing its assessments of those proposed post-Covid plans. A Heads of Agreement was previously signed with the group to develop the hotel and cruise port, however, the group submitted altered plans due to the pandemic.

“It is not the same deal it was before,” he said on Saturday. “It is a post-COVID deal and the terms are not as favourable as it was before.”

Mr Thompson said the government is required to do a full assessment of the plans.

“We did do a full assessment, and we are continuing the process of doing an assessment. Once completed, we would have further discussions with RCL and with ITM with respect to those plans, and we would be able to complete this long awaiting hotel and cruise port deal,” he said.

“We are confident that this is the right direction for us to go into and continue to do our best to get the right deal for the Bahamian people. It is a situation that is hugely important for us. The hotel development and cruise port development are needed now more than ever before post COVID. We believe it would play an important role in the continuing rebuilding of GB,” he said.

The hotel property has been closed for the past 18 months and has affected the tourism sector, resulting in high unemployment here on the island.

The Grand Lucayan’s board has been contemplating a February 2021 reopening as an option while it awaits the results of the KPMG probe into the merits of the revised ITM Group/Royal Caribbean deal, according to Tribune Business.

When asked about a possible February reopening, Mr Thompson said that it is under consideration.

“The hotel board provided the policymakers with a proposal to have it open, but we are reviewing that now, and the board should be announcing a final decision shortly,” he stated.

“The government is now reviewing the report by KPMG, and we are now in discussions with a BPI Group with respect to it. It is not the same deal it was before. It is a post-COVID deal, and the terms are not as favourable as it was before. And, that is why we have to take a good look at the deal as it is now. And, one of the things we are very focused on now is ensuring that whatever deal becomes of it, at the end of the day it will fully benefit the people of GB.

“One of the challenges right now is the hotel is in a state where it is not moving forward, not being developed. Our cruise port is not being developed. And so, we have to look at where you are now and ensuring that whatever it is you do, it is better than where you are now. And that is one of the things we have been focused on.

“That really is why it has taken the amount of time it has taken because we want to ensure that whatever decision is made it is in the best interest of the people of GB, and that it provides as much economic activity as much as possible. And it is one of those things we have to continually press and continue to be focused on.”

He said the government is still in discussions with the group and could not provide details of the proposed plan.

On another note, Senator Thompson indicated that the opening of fast ferry service to Grand Bahama is a very “positive step” for residents and getting visitors back on the island.

“We are pleased that we have seen the opening of Balearia in GB. It is positive not just for residents who wish to travel, but positive in providing another avenue for visitors and tourists to be able to come and visit the island of GB,” he said.

Mr Thompson believes this will encourage the other small hotel properties to open.

Comments

tribanon 1 month ago

Simply incredible! Let's just think about all of this for a moment and connect a few important dots.

It was Minnis's very own foolish decision to have government buy and renovate the Grand Lucayan hotel property several years ago, a decision which has todate cost Bahamian taxpayers more than $150 million. Hutchison Whampoa, the seller of the property to government, could not believe how easy it was for them to 'persuade' Minnis to buy the run down and economically unsound Grand Lucayan property at a grossly inflated price. For Hutchison Whampoa it was a deal too good to be true and it is well known that Hutchison Whampoa is an important agent for the Red Chinese Communist Party in controlling certain strategic ports and waterways around the world.

Minnis assured the Bahamian people that government could quickly renovate the Grand Lucayan property and sell it at a handsome profit. Into the picture comes a joint venture between the ITM group and Royal Caribbean as a possible buyer and a heads of agreement is signed. All of this occurred well before Hurricane Dorian and the deadly Red China Virus came along. From day one the real plum in the eyes of ITM/Royal Caribbean was the port in Grand Bahama. The ITM/Royal Caribbean joint venture wasted no time in trying to leverage their offer to buy the Grand Lucayan in an all out effort to 'persuade' government to represent its considerable interest (at the time) in acquiring ownership and/or control of the port. The powers that be in government saw a golden opportunity for sweet deal to be made for 'all concerned' behind closed doors. But with so many interested parties and side deals involved, insatiable greed quickly got in the way of an early sale well before Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19 came along.

And here we stand today, listening to this boogie-eyed buffoon Kwasi, whom Minnis has appointed to oversee our country's financial crisis, tell us that government is now willing to essentially give-away the Grand Lucayan property to the ITM/Royal Caribbean joint venture group because, after having already sunk $150+ million and counting into the property, government finds it can no longer afford to keep it. Minnis alone is personally responsible for this mega million dollar financial debacle. In a feeble effort to seek political cover for himself and his grand stupidity, Minnis has caused government to hire the accounting firm KPMG to literally recommend government now essentially give-away the Grand Lucayan property to the ITM/Royal Caribbean joint venture group. Yes, indeed the deal-making cheese here stinks to high heaven; much worse than the smelliest cheese to be found anywhere in Denmark!

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tribanon 1 month ago

I should have added to my post above that the very unscrupulous ITM/Royal Caribbean group have since thrown into the mix the leveraging of government to give them control of a significant portion of the western end of Paradise Island. Parts of our country are now literally being given-away with little or nothing going into the public purse. No doubt the key players allowing this to happen are somehow being handsomely compensated for their efforts in short-changing the Bahamian people.

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proudloudandfnm 1 month ago

Actually no renovations were ever done. Not sure how that lie took hold, but it never happened. The hotel is in the same condition it was after Matthew.

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proudloudandfnm 1 month ago

Time for this administration to stop lying about this hotel. Since they were sworn in its been one lie after another....

They let all the employees go a few months ago lying that it had to be done because they were closing the deal at the end of the month.

They lied about the second round of negotiations with Wynn telling us negotiations were going well. Only to close with a hotel deal in Nassau.

They lie. That's all they do...

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birdiestrachan 1 month ago

MR: Thompson did say he believed the keys would be handed over at the end of the year. then they said the hotel would be opened in February. now the masterful lairs have a different story.

Could it be that the cruise line did not buy the hotel from Hutchison? let the Bahamas Government buy it for 65 Million. then the Government will take the loss and sell ll it to the cruise lines for less.

It is a mystery. I love mysteries. Why did the Government buy the hotel. and now try to sell it. they are not real estate agencies,

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