D’Aguilar: Govt. could finalize Grand Lucayan sale before year’s end

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Government and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) are still navigating their way through the sale, the development of the Heads of Agreement (HoA) and the official handover of the embattled Grand Lucayan Resort; but the process could be wrapped up by year’s end, according to tourism minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

It’s been nine months since government purchased the struggling resort in a last-ditch attempt to revive the ailing economy of Grand Bahama after failing to secure a buyer.

D’Aguilar said the process of finalizing the sale with RCCL is positively progressing and it is expected that the new buyer will provide a much-needed economic boost.

“We’re in the due diligence period of the arrangement and then we will go to the purchasing part of the arrangement, and then move on to the transferring of the assets,” he noted.

“The process is going very smoothly. I am not aware of any hiccups.”

According to D’Aguilar, the deal could be concluded within seven months.

“We’re very encouraged, that hopefully before the year is done, that government would have achieved its goal with selling the hotel, and getting someone who actually knows how to run a hotel; to develop an attraction to get numbers in and start to generate economic impact on Grand Bahama,” he noted.

Government has reportedly invested some $47 million dollars in the acquisition process of the resort.

It was initially purchased for $65 million dollars; with $32.4 million dollars funneled into capital investment.

An additional $14.6 million dollars was also spent on the creation of Lucayan Renewal Holdings; government’s purchasing vehicle for the property.

Nearly $4 million dollars will be spent to pay separation packages for the managers union.

“I don’t think we will have invested ‘x’ and get ‘x’ back; but, we certainly would have felt that the investment is worth it because we would have gotten a project that was essentially ‘dead in the water,’ up and running and with some hope of future substantial returns for Grand Bahama,” he said.

While there won’t be any immediate financial returns, the tourism minister said projected returns could prove promising.

“You know, we need to create a destination. We have to create something where the resort was to attract substantial stop over visitors to the country; and we are very excited that they are going to create an attraction, renovate the hotel, put some life back into that project and we will see the returns for that for years to come,” D’Aguilar said.