A partnership between Royal Caribbean International and Bahamas Port Investments has purchased the Grand Lucayan Resort on Grand Bahama in The Bahamas.
The government of The Bahamas was the seller of the property, which it had originally purchased the resort in 2018 from Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Whampoa.
The Royal Caribbean partnership is expected to make a $250 million investment between the hotel and the redevelopment of Freeport’s cruise port.
While Royal Caribbean’s expertise is of course in the cruise sector, Minnis said the plan for the project is to reinvent Grand Bahama’s tourism product both for land-based guests and cruise and ferry passengers.
The centerpiece of the project will be the transformation of the Grand Lucayan hotel property, which will include a major refurbishment and reconstruction of 500 rooms in the first phase.
The second phase of the project will see another 500 rooms, along with 500 villas.
The property will also see a new casino, a water park and a new shopping, restaurant and retail center.
On the cruise side, a new cruise port will be built in Freeport Harbour to accommodate three ships.
Subsequent phases could see capacity increase to up to seven ships.
“This entire project, hotel and waterpark right here plus [the] new cruise port, plus attractions down at the Freeport Harbour is absolutely monumental for tourism in Grand Bahama,” Bahamas Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said.
“As we stated at the time it was our intention to privatize the property as quickly as possible,” Bahamas Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said. “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 the island’s potential.”
“This $250 million dollar investment will go a long way in revitalizing Grand Bahama, with myriad economic and employment opportunities for more Grand Bahamians,” Minnis said. “After many false dawns, there is an exciting new horizon for our second-most-populous island and economic center.”
Royal Caribbean will also be offering training for Bahamians through its RCCL Training Academy.
Minnis said talks are already underway as to the best way to redevelop Grand Bahama International Airport, “which will require a major investment.”
“I am extremely excited that the intended purchasers of this hotel are Royal Caribbean and the ITM Group,” D’Aguilar said in a statement.
While the Grand Lucayan itself has been shuttered for several years, its Lighthouse Point all-inclusive property remains open and accepting visitors as one of the island’s top all-inclusive options.
It’s a significant step for the post-Hurricane Dorian tourism recovery of Grand Bahama, which recently saw the reintroduction of regular service on American Airlines.