$3.7 million in VSEPS for Grand Lucayan managers

D’Aguilar advises managers to spend their money wisely

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – After months of intense negotiations, the government has finally struck a satisfiable voluntary separation package (VSEP) deal with managers at the Grand Lucayan Resort, offering a total of $3.7 million dollars.

“There are approximately 91 managers that are included in the deal, and we have agreed to pay them $3.7 million dollars,” revealed Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar before heading to Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

“They [the managers] have other funds that are in an annuity with Family Guardian, which they will be able to tap into as well, so that will take the total payout to $4.4 million dollars, so this is a good day for Grand Bahama.”

D’Aguilar said the payouts are expected to be made as early as this or next week.

The Grand Lucayan VSEP offer was part of an overall strategy to streamline the operational costs of the resort and put it on a path to profitability before its resale. And now that an agreement was made on VSEPS, D’Aguilar said managers can now go home with a lump sum and prepare for upcoming employment opportunities with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL).

RCCL and Mexican port developer, the ITM Group, partnered to acquire the Grand Lucayan in addition to developing a water-based theme park around the resort and the Freeport Harbour.

Yesterday, D’Aguilar told the media that the government is getting much closer to the disengagement of this acquisition and as far as he knows, everything was proceeding as planned.

“So this is a milestone,” D’Aguilar said about the VESP agreement.

“I must complement and thank Mr. Obie Ferguson and Kirk Russell who were on the other side [of negotiations].

“We had good and fruitful discussions and I am glad that we have been able to come to a conclusion.”

Meanwhile, D’Aguilar advised the managers receiving VSEPS to spend their money  wisely and prepare for other opportunities that will be presented to them in the next five to six month.

“So as the government marches towards a sale, this is a natural outcome of that process, and when we hand over the hotel to the new owners, we will complete the disengagement of all of the staff and then the new owners will commence the re-engagement of who they would like to have or hire new employees,” D’Aguilar said.

Asked yesterday when the handover of the Grand Lucayan will be completed, D’Aguilar said the process involves due diligence.

He said there must firstly be an acquisition and then a handover period.

“There are milestones and deadlines, but as we get closer to those, then I think I will be in a position to concretize them, but right now they are doing through their due diligence and rather than commit myself to a date, as all of you would like for me to do, I think I would leave it vague and fuzzy for now.”

The government purchased the Grand Lucayan Resort for $65 million, with $30 million paid up front. It borrowed the balance from the former owners, which became a government-guaranteed mortgage paid over three and a half years.