Jamaica’s First Casino Resort
Harmony Cove Limited and Celebration Jamaica Development Limited have now both been provisionally approved by the Ministry of Finance to build Jamaica’s first 2 casino resorts. This was announced last night by Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips.
Provisional Development Order
The terms of the provisional development orders state that the companies must build the first 1,000 rooms in the first phase, and eventually build a 2,000 room or more resort. Then they can apply the the Casino Gaming Commission for a gaming licence to operate casino on the properties. In other words, no licence will be granted until the companies deliver on their plan.
Under the terms of the provisional development orders, both Harmony Cove Limited and Celebration Jamaica Development Limited will be required to begin construction by the middle of 2016.
What and Where is Harmony Cove
Harmony Cove is spread across some 2,300 acres of prime north coast lands, between Silver Sands and Braco in Trelawny. The development will feature four five-star hotels, 11 exclusive manor homes on five-acre lots (going for an estimated US$10 million each), 88 villas, 60 condominiums, three golf courses, shops, a magnificent waterfall descending into a town square, and a private international airport. When completed, the resort is expected to include some 5,000 rooms, split across different lodging options.
Back when it was announced in 2004, Prime Minister PJ Patterson said, Harmony Cove would put Jamaica ahead of the competition in luxury vacations, and offer an “experience unparalleled in the Caribbean”.
History of the Harmony Cove Development
On April 27, 2004, then Prime Minister, PJ Patterson announced the Harmony Cove Project, which he then said, was “ready to go.” It was not until late September 2006 that then Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller signed the agreement.
We have gone through 5 Prime Ministers since it was first announced. The problem was financing the deal. Harmony Cove is currently a partnership of state-owned Harmonisation Limited, with 49 per cent, and private-sector partner Tavistock Group – a global investment company, with 51 per cent. It’s unclear whether that ownership structure will remain intact under financing deals pursued by Jamaica with Chinese backers for the Harmony Cove project. The Chinese backers have become the final pieces of the puzzle.
The Future of Harmony Cove
We finally have a start date, which is the middle of 2016. The Harmony Cove development is expected to bring massive employment to Trelawny, both in the construction and operational phase. On the moral side, the church will see it as the state diving deeper into the world of gambling. Arguments for both sides will persist.
Celebration Jamaica Development Limited
Celebration’s complete casino resort is expected to include 2,000 hotel rooms, a 75,000-square-foot Casino & Sports Book complex, retail space, artisan village, a Caribbean World Music Entertainment Complex, amid other facilities.
Images courtesy of: Mode Architects