FINAL HURDLES: Cooper says Grand Lucayan resort “close to resolution”

FINAL HURDLES: Cooper says Grand Lucayan resort “close to resolution”
The Grand Lucayan Resort on Grand Bahama.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — More than two years after the government purchased the Grand Lucayan Resort with the intention of selling the property on Grand Bahama, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism said yesterday that negotiations have reached the final stages.

Ahead of the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday, Cooper said: “We’re in the final phase of discussions with RCL in relation to the Our Lucaya matter and until those discussions are concluded I wouldn’t want to be making any further pronouncements on it.

“I indicated by view publicly as to what I think of the deal itself.

Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper

“RCL is a long-standing partner of The Bahamas. They have been here for 50 years.

“They have recently launched new ships.

“Last week, we welcomed a new cruise line to The Bahamas.

“They have other interests in Grand Bahama. They have others interests in Nassau as well.

“So, when there is a marriage as long as the one we have with RCL, everyday isn’t going to be Sunday.

“Suffice to say, the issue in Grand Bahama as it relates to Our Lucaya, in the view of this government has gone on too long.

“And I can tell you that we’re close to resolution in relation to that specific matter.”

The Minnis administration purchased the resort for $65 million in August 2018 amid controversy about the move, though the government said it was absolutely necessary to save the jobs and livelihoods of Grand Bahamians.

Last March, the government and Royal Caribbean International and the signed a heads of agreement for the purchased of the resort and set a plan for a reported $300 million investment to transform Grand Bahama.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic sidelined those plans, though the investors remained committed to purchasing the resort.

The Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar had said months before demitting office that the government was on the verge of completing the deal and selling the resort.

But that did not happen.

Assuming office, Cooper called the deal between the government and the group an egregiously bad deal.

Asked how certain he was on a resolution given the similar pronouncements of the former minister who had ministerial responsibility for the sale, Cooper said he does not speak for his predecessor.

“I’ve been in office for eight weeks,” he said.

“We have begun the discussion in earnest with our partners.

“My approach to this job is one of collaboration in speaking with the stakeholders.

“Suffice to say, RCL knows my position.

“The position of our government is very clear as it relates to the deal itself.

“We have said it publicly and our RCL understands very clearly what the discussion is about.”