Sunwing Group and Gov’t agree on 99-year lease of Halycon Hotel; questions being asked about ownership of luxury homes

“The Sunwing Group, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, and Antigua Isle Ltd., (a wholly owned government company) entered into an agreement for a 99-year lease” of the Halcyon Hotel property the Cabinet Notes report.

The Notes claim that the former Solicitor-General and a member of the Ministry of Legal Affairs addressed the Cabinet on the lease to Sunwing on Wednesday, October 5.  

No details were shared, but some residents are asking exactly how the Administration got out of its still-running 99-year lease with the Rex Group.

Reportedly, the new resort will be called the Royalton Chic and several luxury homes are expected to be built on the hills surrounding the hotel.

The Notes say, “These holiday homes will be built at a cost of USD $200,000 per home … [and] they will be offered to CIP applicants as real estate investment options.”

This news has led to speculation about the ownership of the land on which these holiday homes are to be built – as well as the beachfront land recently granted to  Sir McLean Emanuel aka King Short Shirt.  

This is because Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said he would be encouraging his wife, Minister of Lands Maria Browne, to acquire land in that area for the purpose of building rental properties.  

Accordingly, questions have arisen about a possible conflict of interest or insider trading.

Meanwhile, a real-estate professional tells REAL News that the description “luxury homes” might be an overstatement.  She says that homes built at that cost were considered only middle-income prior to the pandemic and the war in The Ukraine.

Now, with the steep hike in the cost of building materials and the concurrent rise in labour costs, she says the “only way US$200k will cut it is if the Government waives all taxes and charges on the importation of materials.

“That’s what you have to check out if there’s a possibility that a Cabinet Minister is building these houses,” the woman says