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Royal Caribbean close to purchasing Grand Lucayan resort in Freeport

12 Mar 2021
Matt Hochberg

More than a year after plans were announced, it looks like Royal Caribbean's joint venture is close to purchasing the Grand Lucayan resort in Freeport, Bahamas.

For months, the joint venture of ITM Group and Royal Caribbean Group has been negotiating the sale of the government owned resort so that the land can be turned into a new port destination.

The cruise industry shutdown coupled with the global health crisis complicated the deal since the buyers wanted to renegotiate the terms to find a more affordable price.

With both the Bahamas and Royal Caribbean Group incurring billion dollar loses, conditions rapidly changed and closing the sale had to go through a few rounds of new negotiations.

The Bahamas Tribune is reporting Bahamian Minister of Tourism Dionisio D'Aguilar has said the sale is "nearing the end of the journey."

Mr. D'Aguilar claims that commercial terms for the sale have now largely been agreed but did not disclose them.

Part of the deal includes an separate agreement with Hutchison Whampoa, controlling 50 percent owner of Freeport Harbour Company, for the redevelopment of Freeport Harbour via the addition of two new cruise berths.

"The terms have been essentially agreed and, having the sale of the hotel tied to Royal Caribbean and ITM first striking a deal with Hutchison Ports has made this transaction that much more complex. But I think all of the ducks have been lined up and we are nearing completion. I remain hopeful."

No estimated timeline was given for the Grand Lucayan sale's completion.

The Freeport project is one of two projects Royal Caribbean short listed to be completed since the cruise industry shutdown. The other project being the new cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas.

In March 2020, Royal Caribbean announced it would revitalize and expand the Grand Lucayan resort so that it could be transformed into Harbour Village.

It is unclear if or how those plans have changed under the new deal apparently struck to purchase the resort, but the original plans called for a a world-class beachfront destination.

Two phases of the project were announced that focused on the Grand Lucayan resort first, and then the surrounding area after.

Phase One of the Lucaya Property will consist of a beachfront destination – including a 526 room hotel, shopping village, spa and wellness center, water based family entertainment (including water and adventure theme park), a 40,000-square-foot convention center, adventure activities (such as zip lines and off-roading), restaurants and bars, entertainment and nightlife.

Phase Two – Harbour Village – will be at the cruise terminal in Freeport Harbor. The expected enhancements will allow visitors to enjoy numerous spaces with multiple shopping and dining venues, beach areas, shore excursions and more.

Additional plans for Freeport included a new transportation hub providing infrastructure for water ferries and ground transportation, including buses, vans, and jeeps. Holistica Destinations will partner with local business owners and entrepreneurs providing opportunities for guests to experience additional shore excursions in Grand Bahama.