By Robyn Adderley
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The Government of The Bahamas sold the Grand Lucayan on Monday, March 2, 2020 to a partnership between Royal Caribbean International and ITM (Bahamas Port Investments Ltd.), which is expected to make a $250 million investment between the hotel and the redevelopment of the cruise port.
The Heads of Agreement Signing Ceremony was held on the Great Lawn of the property, some 11 months following the signing of the Letter of Intent on Wednesday, March 27, 2019.
Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis described the day as a wonderful one, as the government’s intention was never to hold on to the property, but initially purchased it to save jobs of Grand Bahamians and businesses.
“As we stated at the time, it was our intention to privatize the property as quickly as possible. We wanted to ensure that we found the right buyer who shared our vision for the renewal of Grand Bahama. Our vision was the renewal and rebirth of Grand Bahama’s tourism sector and product as an essential element in the restoration of this island’s potential.”
The Prime Minister also noted that discussions are currently ongoing to determine the best way to redevelop the Grand Bahama International Airport, which will require a major investment.
Minister of Tourism & Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, said, “I am extremely excited that the intended purchasers of this hotel are Royal Caribbean and the ITM Group. Between them, they are well funded to bring to the table a great deal of experience in the tourism sector, and have a proven track record of successful projects.”
The development projected for the Grand Lucayan will bring about a total transformation of the resort. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested into the property to refurbish/renovate/reconstruct 500 rooms in Phase One and another 500 rooms along with 500 villas in Phase Two. Additional features will include a new casino, a spectacular water theme park and a new shopping, restaurant and retail center. In addition, a new cruise port will be built in the Freeport Harbour to accommodate three ships in Phase One and up to seven ships in subsequent phases. As a result of the purchase, 3,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created in construction as well as in employment at the hotel and cruise port.
Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson, gave welcome remarks. Also giving remarks were Robert Shamosh, Chief Executive Officer, Holistica Destinations; Mauricio Hamui, Chief Executive Officer, ITM; and Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.
Also, in attendance were Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Peter Turnquest and other Ministers of Cabinet; Members of Parliament, Permanent Secretaries, Senior Government Officials, representatives from the business community, taxi drivers, and straw vendors.
Immediately following the official ceremony, guests were treated to the pulsating sounds of a Junkanoo Rushout followed by a reception.
SIGNING CEREMONY -- The Government of The Bahamas and Bahamas Port Investments Ltd. signed a Heads of Agreement with respect to purchase of the Grand Lucayan today, March 2, 2020. Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis (standing, second right) said the multi-million dollar investment "will go a long way in revitalizing Grand Bahama, with myriad economic and employment opportunities for more Grand Bahamians." Seated at left are Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley (left) and CEO of ITM Mauricio Hamui, representing the Developer; and at right, Secretary to the Cabinet Camille Johnson (second right) and Director of Investments Candia Ferguson. Standing from left: Minister Iram Lewis, Minister of State Kwasi Thompson, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, and Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar. (BIS Photo/Yontalay Bowe)