Above picture: Bushiri Resort earlier this month
Bushiri Resort was an all-inclusive resort, owned and operated by the island government, located on the main road from Oranjestad to the beach hotel areas. The same building featured a hotel trade school that offered many students in-house, on the job training.
Due to bad management and politics this resort was closed in the early two thousands and has been sitting there ever since, deteriorating, losing most of its value. Currently it’s still wasting taxpayers money. A government managing a resort? Really? You’ve got to be kidding me.
What are the options? First, let me tell you what the property entails: a resort building of 150 rooms, two tennis courts, pool and bar. In these times a resort like that isn’t attractive for any investor to operate. It needs to be upgraded. Herein lies the problem. Most hotel developers and operators need to double or triple the amount of hotel rooms, add a casino and a couple of restaurants.
Previous government held a public bidding process and three candidates emerged as potential buyer. The prime candidate was Spanish Meliá. The purchase price was $14.5 million. For this price Meliá wanted to build a super resort with hundreds of rooms and casino to make it feasible. The government opposed this plan. Meliá pulled out.
Now the new Minister of Tourism is planning to contact the other two candidates to see if they are still interested. If this is not the case, a new sales offer will be put out. In case no one steps forward to purchase Bushiri the government will demolish the building and restore access to the beach.
If you ask me I would choose the latter. Get rid of it. Demolish this building and its place build a beach park with a commemorative plaque as a remembrance of Bushiri as an institution for education. I can tell this much: I don’t want to be in the shoes of the Minister of Tourism. Why? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Let me explain.
- If he leaves it as is, it’s going to deteriorate further and cost taxpayers more money. Result: angry people.
- If he sells it and let it be redeveloped into a 600 room super resort with casino, criticism of overdevelopment follows. Result: angry people.
- If he demolishes it, people will cry foul and call it “destruction of capital”. Result: angry people.
Aruba is One Happy Island, but we also have many cranky and angry people. Nobody said politics was an easy business, but he needs to make a decision, quite frankly the sad state of Bushiri is unacceptable.