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Grand Lucayan feels the ‘chill’ with no A/C

The Grand Lucayan resort in Grand Bahama.

The Grand Lucayan resort in Grand Bahama.

• Resort blames water supply for 7-10 day close

• Chair slams GBUC ‘disgrace’ on ‘rotted chillers’

• Now investing $500k in own water provision

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Grand Lucayan’s chairman yesterday blamed the resort’s recent closure to overnight guests on an inferior water supply that “rotted our chillers” and left it without air conditioning.

Michael Scott QC, pictured, slammed the cause of the government-owned property’s seven-ten day shutdown as “a disgrace”, and disclosed it is now investing around $500,000 in installing a reverse osmosis plant to produce its own water as the quality of Grand Bahama Utility Company’s (GBUC) supply cannot be trusted.

Revealing that the Grand Lucayan was presently paying the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) owned utility $40,000 per month for water, he told Tribune Business that the high salinity levels in this supply were responsible for corroding the resort’s chillers and thus shutting down its A/C systems.

The enforced closure resulted in the Grand Lucayan’s guests being accommodated at the nearby Pelican Bay resort, although they were still able to use some of the former property’s amenities. Mr Scott said the former property’, which is awaiting completion of long-running negotiations for its sale to the Royal Caribbean/ITM Group joint venture, is leasing a chiller while it awaits the arrival of a

full-time replacement.

Explaining what led to the temporary closure, Mr Scott said: “Very simply, the water supply we are getting from Grand Bahama Utility Company, courtesy of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, is so bad that it’s rotting our pipes, it’s rotting our chillers and its rotting our infrastructure systems. 

“The water they are pumping out to consumers, for which we are paying $40,000 a month, has too high a chloride/salinity content. Is it a surprise that our pipes are being corroded? Our A/C chillers are water cooled, and that destroys them. It’s palpably a disgrace.

“If water is being delivered to us in accordance with a contract of service from the Grand Bahama Utility Company, which is a GBPA company, and that water is above the limit for chloride/salinity content, can you imagine what it is doing to other people’s properties?”

A GBPA spokesperson told Tribune Business that itself and Grand Bahama Utility Company will respond to Mr Scott’s concerns and criticisms today [Tuesday], although it was informed that the article will be appearing before that.

However, its water provider subsidiary has long acknowledged the “impact of higher than usual salinity levels on potable (drinkable) water” supply as a result of Hurricane Dorian, whose September 2019 storm surge overwhelmed the wellfields long relied upon by Freeport and wider Grand Bahama.

To counter this salt water intrusion and restore supply, Grand Bahama Utility Company is investing $5m in a new three million gallon reverse osmosis plant that is scheduled to be completed by late August. Its arrival has been billed as the key to restoring full water potability across Grand Bahama, with 30 percent of the island still awaiting the return of such supply almost two years after Dorian’s passage.

That cannot come soon enough for the Grand Lucayan and its chairman, with Mr Scott reiterating yesterday: “We’re paying $40,000 per month for this. It’s impossible to use that water for anything else other than flushing toilets as it is currently being pumped. It’s a major problem.

“We’re now in the midst of putting in a reverse osmosis plant, a used reverse osmosis plant, and then will lease and buy a new chiller. We will lease a chiller then order a new one, as it takes seven to eight weeks’ lead time.” 

The Grand Lucayan Renewal Holdings chair said the total investment, which will effectively be funded by Bahamian taxpayers via the Government’s ownership, will likely amount to around $500,000 as he confirmed the resort’s Lighthouse Pointe complex has fully re-opened once again.

“We’re back up and running now, but that was the cause of our problems,” Mr Scott said in reference to the water supply. “We want to keep the hotel open, and cannot do so unless you have an A/C system. We’ve been up and running since the end of last week; Thursday of last week. It was not our fault. We were trying to open with a situation that was not of our making.”

He added that the Grand Lucayan has “an arrangement with across the street” whereby the nearby Pelican Bay resort was able to provide overnight room accommodation to its guests. Those guests were able to return and use amenities such as restaurants as these facilities were equipped with air filtration and cooling systems. The rooms, though, were “not habitable” in the absence of A/C cooling.

Magnus Alnebeck, Pelican Bay’s general manager, said his hotel had received a temporary boost from the “overflow” created by the Grand Lucayan’s A/C problems as he revealed it was presently enjoying “about 40 percent” occupancy levels.

“The majority of that is people who are here for a reason,” he added. “It’s corporate travellers, people visiting family and who are here to pick up a boat. We just had a fishing tournament in Grand Bahama, and had a spike from that. There have been some projects at the Shipyard, and that makes all the difference. All that matters for us is to keep on going and going.

“In predicting future business we don’t look beyond two weeks. It is so difficult to forecast because it all depends on what happens [with COVID-19]. American Airlines is going to five days a week in mid-August with its flights to Grand Bahama from Miami, which is a bit concerning as we will not have direct flights for the full seven days, but it’s a question of supply and demand.”

Comments

tribanon 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Minnis, D'Aguilar and Dr. Scott are still in the process of pouring taxpayer funds into the Grand Lucayan property to make sure it's fully ready for giving away, yes, that's right, for giving away for free, for nada, for $Nil, to their favourite foreign friend, the Royal Caribbean cruise line company. Truly sickening!

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Emilio26 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It would've been wiser if the Minnis administration had sold the property to a Canadian or British investor.

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Economist 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“If water is being delivered to us in accordance with a contract of service from the Grand Bahama Utility Company, which is a GBPA company, and that water is above the limit for chloride/salinity content, can you imagine what it is doing to other people’s properties?”

Many owners in Lucaya have replaced their water heaters, at least once, because of corrosion.

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proudloudandfnm 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The Grand Lucayan? Lighthouse Point right? Nobody is in the Grand. That building is dark and empty. Always thought the big building was the Grand. And how old is lighthouse point? How old are the now defunct chillers? That hotel was so ladened with mold when government took it over guests had to sleep out by the pool. We did have water issues after Dorian but I seriously doubt our water was the main problem. It isn't like government did any kind of renovations or upgrades, they just took what was there, swept and mopped the place and opened the doors...

And what is going on with the sale? Any word yet? Any idea how long after purchase renovations will start?

5 years since the hotel closed down. 5 years.

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TalRussell 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The best course this shantytown of a resort is summoned the bulldozers. A perfect way to send what still remains of Grand resort, its final rest, and bid a good riddance to the services Queen's Counsel, QC.
And, reallocate the $500,000 stash QC is sittin' on to stockpile doses vaccines, exclusively jab arms of FREEporters. Cash over A/C for savin' the lives of thousands FREEporters, yes?

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bogart 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Da hotel experty salaried workers, Executives, Govt Officials, experts personnels fully knowing of the Dorian September 2019 storm surge an salt water intrusion contamination and being uses by govt hotel, they should have bought a $10. to $50. Water Test Kit from Amazon and test the water being used by hotel.

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bogart 11 months, 2 weeks ago

....er, in case of high chlorine knowing concern, no costs involved, just blow clear ya nose an smell the high chlorine water. Probably by now a lot of guests walking around wid reddish or blonde hair. Lol.

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The_Oracle 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Salt water will absolutely destroy water pipes, faucets, heaters, any metal items by electrolysis. Fresh water does not conduct electricity. Salt water does and well. Which is why your ground well is drilled to the salt water table. The RO system is not yet operable, but I am informed they intend to blend RO water with some of the less salty ground water. A trick I can't wait to see work. The salt content fluctuates because the fresh water tables rises and falls with the salt water tidal tables it sits above. Those well fields have been compromised, which may well be permanent.

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bogart 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Excellent view The_Oracle. All doubts, questions, queries, untold data etc raised and disagreements between govt officials and water suppliers who were dealing with disaster situation concerning all water users in Grand Bahama, needs IMMEDIATELY to have an INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONALS conduct extensive tests and offer solutions. Freeport had numbers of large companies ddealing with chemicals, oil etc for decades of operations and thorough examination of wastes disposal, discharges, inefficient uses, accidents etc needs to be examined. All doubts, queries, known and unknown data on water supplied to all must be thoroughly examined by INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONALS.

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