NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A prominent Grand Bahama hotelier said yesterday it is “crucial” that the Grand Lucayan resort reopens, noting that it needs an operator that can kickstart the destination with a comprehensive airlift and marketing plan.
Magnus Alnebeck, the Pelican Bay resort’s general manager, told Eyewitness News, “It is crucial that it opens, but to put a sign on the building and switch on the lights is not enough. It needs an operator [or] brand that can kickstart the destination with a comprehensive airlift and marketing plan. If it cannot be sold at this moment, and government wants it open, then they must find the right company to operate.”
He added, “We all know what a great job Sunwing did when they were leasing half the hotel from Hutchison. Another example is what Sandals has done for Exumas. In my view, we need a similar ‘know-what-to-do company’ to look after the ‘taxpayer-owned’ hotel until a buyer is found. If not, we just end up losing more money.”
Alnebeck’s comments come amid criticism from Lucayan Renewal Holdings Ltd Chairman Michael Scott who has expressed reservations regarding the restructured proposal for the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort and whether the deal still represents the best interest of the Bahamian people. Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar has insisted that the deal is not a bad deal.
The Grand Lucayan’s board is eyeing a February 2021 reopening. Meanwhile, a forensic audit is being carried out to assess the merits of the revised ITM Group/Royal Caribbean deal.
The government purchased the resort in August 2018. In March of this year, the government signed a heads of agreement with Bahamas Port Investments Limited, a joint venture between Royal Caribbean International and ITM Group, for the sale of the resort and development of a cruise port at Freeport Harbour that was expected to accommodate three ships in phase one, and up to seven ships in subsequent phases. The plan also included a casino, water park, restaurant and retail center.