RCI still committed to Grand Lucayan, president says

Royal Caribbean International President Michael Bayley said yesterday the company has every intention of moving forward with its plans to purchase and redevelop the Grand Lucayan resort on Grand Bahama.

“We believe that this project is essential for the future growth, not only of our company but our relationship with The Bahamas,” he said during a press conference.

“We are continuing with the project. It did get delayed, naturally, but our intention is to move ahead with the Grand Lucayan project. And I believe that further announcements will be coming shortly. We’re very excited about the future of Grand Lucayan and Freeport.

“We see this as a huge tourism attraction destination.”

Bayley added, “So, the project continues. We’re very much committed to the project. We’re very excited to make announcements in the not-too-distant future.”

The Minnis administration purchased the Grand Lucayan resort from Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa in August 2018 for $65 million and has plans to sell the property to Royal Caribbean and ITM for its redevelopment. The resort, an all-inclusive with 740 rooms, covers more than 90,000 square feet and was the hub of tourist activity on the island.

Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday that the sale of the resort will be finalized in “the quickest possible time”.

“It has been a challenge to bring this to a conclusion just because events on the ground have changed so significantly,” he said.

“You will remember in March 2020, we signed the deal. It was all good to go and then COVID-19 came and changed not only the world, but changed cruising and brought it to a dead halt.

“So, if I were to use a baseball analogy, we’re on third base and on our way to the home plate. But specific dates and times, I’ve found that when you’re in the hands of lawyers, it always takes a little bit longer than you think, but as far as I’m concerned, using my business cap, we’re at the cusp of getting this concluded.”

Bayley said that the Grand Lucayan is not the only plan the company has for Grand Bahama.

Royal Caribbean International announced that it will this year begin to sell a cruise that will set sail from Nassau’s cruise port and visit Grand Bahama, CocoCay and Cozumel, Mexico.

Though Nassau will be the ship’s homeport, Bayley said the ship will be provisioned in Freeport.

“The other big benefit of homeporting is we will provision that ship entirely in Freeport,” he said.

“That means that there are containers and a lot of activity in the docks for workers and employees.

“Just imagine the grocery shopping for 2,000 people – breakfast, lunch and dinner, drinks, etc. – plus all of the miscellaneous spare parts, etc. for the ship itself. So, the economic stimulation that comes with homeporting a ship in terms of supply chain is really quite vast.

“We will also fuel the ship in Freeport. So, again, more economic activity because the fueling, the supply chain, the logistics, all of that will come through Freeport. And that’s a lot of air freight and really a lot of activity. So, that act within itself is a giant economic multiplier for the economy.”