Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Mexico's ITM Group have signed a letter of intent to purchase the Grand Lucayan Resort in the Bahamas in a deal that's expected to transform the Grand Bahama resort and redevelop the Freeport Harbor into a cruise port of choice.
According to The Bahamas Weekly, the 217-acre resort will sell for $65 million, which is the same price the Government of The Bahamas purchased it for last year.
"I am pleased to announce to the people of Grand Bahama and to the entire Bahamas that the much-anticipated sale of the Grand Lucayan Resort has finally been agreed upon," the country's Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Dionisio D'Aguilar said in a statement.
"The development that will roll out in Grand Bahama over the next 24-36 months will go far in restoring the island's economy to its former glory days."
The initial phase of the proposed development is projected to result in a $195 million investment-which includes the purchase price-over the course of two years and is expected to create approximately 2,000 jobs, according to Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson.
The joint venture project between Royal Caribbean and ITM plans to transform the Grand Lucayan Resort-which sustained significant damage from Hurricane Matthew in 2016-into a theme park. Highlights would include five-star hotel accommodations and water-based family entertainment as well as dining, gaming and entertainment options.
The proposal also calls for the redevelopment of Freeport Harbor into a premier cruise destination. "The redevelopment of Freeport Harbor is anticipated to include a significant increase in cruise ship arrivals, bringing an additional approximately two million passengers annually, with the addition of multiple cruise lines calling on Grand Bahama," Minister Thompson added via The Bahamas Weekly.
Officials said they received more than 60 expressions of interest from local and global firms looking to purchase the Grand Lucayan Resort. Last week, the Board of the Lucayan Renewal Holdings Ltd. unanimously approved a resolution to recommend the sale of the resort to Royal Caribbean and ITM to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.
"For us, it was more than just about trying to sell the hotel," said Minister Thompson. "We knew we needed to do more, and creating a unique destination was at the forefront. The joint venture with Royal Caribbean and ITM fit that bill."
Royal Caribbean's vice president of Government Relations/Americas, Russell Benford echoed those sentiments, calling it the perfect fit.
"We understand what Grand Lucayan means to the Government of The Bahamas and to the people of Grand Bahama and so you have our commitment that we will do this project right and we will do right by the government and the people of The Bahamas," he said via The Bahamas Weekly. "We build spectacular world-class products and we will bring that same excellence and dedication here to this project in Grand Bahama."
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