By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
AZUL Destinations broke ground yesterday for the construction of a $250m resort and cruise port for south Long Island.
The multimillion-dollar project, called the Calypso Cove, will consist of a 200-bedroom hotel, mega yacht marina facilities, interior pools, casinos, a cruise port, cruise pier and 18-hole golf course.
Other features will include a zip line, rock climbing wall, sporting activities, excursions, among other amenities.
Some 300 people are expected to be employed during the project’s construction phase that will take place over a two-year period.
A heads of agreement for the project’s development was signed between the government and Azul Destinations and Calypso Cove Destinations Ltd in October.
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony on the island yesterday, Carlos Torres de Navarra, Azul Destinations’ principal, thanked the government for its support of the project.
He explained why developers chose to invest in Long Island, saying no other destination offered what the island had.
“In the 20 plus years I’ve been in the industry, and I look at all the destinations that our ship sails to, there is obviously aspects of a vacation that people want and there’s a laundry list of items and there all boxes need to be checked off, but not every destination has that,” Mr Torres de Navarra told those gathered.
“But, we believe that Long Island does and so for our project, Calypso Cove, it will be the first destination where you can say all of the boxes are going to be checked off, but not only for the benefit of just one cruise line, but for the benefit of the entire industry.
“So, it’s this multi-brand approach that is going to be unique to Long Island so in addition to getting off the ship and enjoying the retail and the restaurants and the food and beverage areas and the shore excursions, they will be able to enjoy a beach.”
He said officials were doing due diligence to ensure that the project is in accordance with environmental safety regulations.
“We’re still in the process of doing all the analysis as well as the environmental impact assessment and so that’s going to take a little bit of time so we hope that you can keep a little patience with us on this. I certainly would love it to be tomorrow, but unfortunately it takes its time and it needs to be done in a responsible way,” he added.
However, Prime Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis, in his speech, later told developers that there was not much time left.
“I hear them talking about time and time. Well, we don’t have much time,” he said in response to developers’ earlier remarks.
Mr Davis added: “I’m talking to Sherif who said, ‘we gone move as quickly as possible’ so we’ll get those environmental studies done and looked at and ensure that there’s a proper environmental management plan that our environment is not destroyed – because a component of the development is to ensure that they preserve a lot of the nature, natural habitat and landscape in this area.”
He wished the developers the best and also committed his administration to doing its part in ensuring the project is a success for the benefit of all.
“We are committed, and we need to ensure that opportunities for Long Islanders, as for any islander, is the same as it is for those in New Providence. We’re committed to that, and we will continue on that journey,” he said.
For his part, Tourism, Investments and Aviation Minister Chester Cooper said he was happy for Long Island, adding that this latest project was just the beginning of what’s to come for residents there.
“I am happy because something is happening for south Long Island after all these decades,” Mr Cooper said.
“When we first had a visit from these developers, it wasn’t that long ago, they laid out a vision for this area. We embraced it immediately. That was less than a year ago. They made an application maybe five or six months later and the rest is history.
“We processed it quickly in record setting time and we put a shovel in the ground. That is how we work.”
He also foreshadowed the coming of a new airport for the island, which he said is expected to be built in a “very short timeframe.”
Long Island MP Adrian Gibson, who was present at yesterday’s ceremony, highlighted the need for a new terminal, saying a new airport along with the Calypso Cove development will be “the catalyst that propels Long Island to heights yet unseen.”
“An airport coupled with this project here today,” Mr Gibson said, “will result in new businesses throughout the island from construction to Airbnbs and other bed and breakfasts, to restaurants to retail, tours and to various new investments and we will also see many Long Islanders returning home, staying home after graduating high school and returning to invest in this island.”