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Sheraton re-development progressing

Saturday October 25, 2014 Written by Published in Local
A plan to re-develop the overgrown Sheraton site in Vaimaanga is currently going through the government’s environmental assessment (EIA) process. This photo of the site, taken in 2011, suggested redevelopment work was expected to soon begin, however nothing of substance has happened since construction came to a halt in the 1990’s. BTIB approval for the developers was granted in October 2013. 14102404 A plan to re-develop the overgrown Sheraton site in Vaimaanga is currently going through the government’s environmental assessment (EIA) process. This photo of the site, taken in 2011, suggested redevelopment work was expected to soon begin, however nothing of substance has happened since construction came to a halt in the 1990’s. BTIB approval for the developers was granted in October 2013. 14102404

Thel latest incarnation of plans to re-develop the overgrown site of the failed Sheraton hotel project in Vaimaanga are moving along through government bureaucracy.

An application - lodged by the Mirage Group Limited - for a project permit is currently being assessed by the National Environment Service.
A 30-day period allowing the public to make written submissions for or against the project permit ended earlier this week, leaving officials with the task of reviewing the entire project along with any submissions received. As of earlier this week, it is believed only one member of the public wrote to NES with concerns over the plans.
Mirage, working with New Zealand-based company, Herbert Construction, has submitted documentation showing bold plans to restore and develop the derelict property, which has fallen into a state of decay over the past two decades when financial issues halted the initial Sheraton project in the 90’s.
According to the documents, Mirage says the completed “5 star resort” will contain 198 hotel rooms, 16 serviced apartments, and feature Sheraton management and branding.
Central to the re-development are plans to divert the present course of the main road that currently separates the incomplete resort and the shoreline.
The Mirage consortium is proposing a new road to be constructed which will cancel the existing main road and divert traffic to the rear of the property, giving the resort direct access to the shore.
The consortium says the roadwork should be undertaken by the Cook Islands Government.
With the removal of the existing road, those behind the project say the beach will need additional protection, and are proposing the installation of two 40 metre long groynes - also at the expense of the local government.
The groynes will be natural stone structures jutting out from the shore at each end of the beachfront at the outfall of two streams, read the EIA documents.
An artificial saltwater lagoon with 18 overwater bungalow-like structures and three new, smaller 4-room buildings on the beachfront round out some of the features of the plans.
In addition to carrying through construction of the incomplete resort, the plans also include revisions to the pool area, landscaping, and the construction of a beachfront restaurant.
The EIA is carrying the Mirage name, despite comments made in late 2013 by landowner Pa Marie Ariki that the New Zealand-based development company will not be funding the re-development of the derelict site.
The consortium secured a lease on the section from the landowner in 2010.
In completing the EIA process, NES will seek Mirage’s input in reviewing any concerns raised through public submissions.
Afterwards, all documentation related to the re-development plans are forwarded to the Rarotonga Environmental Authority (REA) – made up of Rarotonga’s MPs, and representatives from NGOs, the Ministry of Health, Traditional Leaders, and civil society.
The REA then makes a final decision on granting the project permit, in accordance with the nation’s environmental laws.

12 comments

  • Comment Link Goldie Thursday, 02 February 2017 07:33 posted by Goldie

    We were there in January of 2005. I walked around the rooms a little bit it wasn't as badly damaged as it is now. On Aitutaki the Islanders don't like the idea of these huge Resort like building projects on that small island I don't know about Rarotonga.

  • Comment Link gurantosan Saturday, 04 July 2015 13:51 posted by gurantosan

    What a joke. Like other failed schemes to develop the site, this too, will fall by the wayside as the Mirage consortium will realise the shear cost involved in doing so and will eventually abandon its plans. Government involvement is futile and really, is the Cook Islands government that stupid that it would get involved in this after everything that has happened in the past?

    The fact is, those ruins are beyond redemption; the entire site needs to be bulldozed if any serious plan for site development goes ahead. The infrastructure is too far gone to be saved.

    Personally, I think it should be left standing as a monument to man's greed, state mismanagement and ineptitude and a warning to those in power and elsewhere that so easily, dreams can rapidly become nightmares for the naive.

  • Comment Link Rob Tuesday, 25 November 2014 13:43 posted by Rob

    We were just there in September to get married. I remember seeing the abandoned hotel "ruins" and was shocked when told the original plan was to divert the main road and that the lagoon would be dug out to form a man-made lagoon in front of the hotel (thereby changing the natural coast line ecosystem). Allowing a 198 plus room corporate giant to get its foot hold on the island would not be good. What’s next? Starbucks? McDonalds? Walmart?

  • Comment Link Robin Taylor Thursday, 20 November 2014 15:59 posted by Robin Taylor

    This is a white elephant waiting to be born... I was recently in Rarotonga and had a look at the concrete beams around the building... The internal steel reinforcing is breaking up the concrete. It needs to be completely pulled down.... Sell the baths & taps and hand basins etc... and make something for the locals!

    PS if it requires the road to be moved to make it viable - then let the constructors move the road at their cost.

    Leave one small section standing as a monument to bad decisions..

    PPS - can't wait to get back!

  • Comment Link peter heays Friday, 31 October 2014 10:27 posted by peter heays

    NO new private enterprise development , whether it be the "Sheraton" site or any other, can be allowed to benefit from Government support - unless all the competitors in the same arena (existing or new) are supported equally.

    Tax advantages, cheap finance , lagoon foreshore protection , road diversions and other Government sponsored support would all be appreciated by all hoteliers and they will feel inclined to insist on equal treatment.

    Then the lawyers will have fun!

    Peter Heays

  • Comment Link Laura M. Thursday, 30 October 2014 12:28 posted by Laura M.

    Please don't let this happen. The Cook Islands beauty has been luring me for almost 20 years, and it certainly has changed in that time. The luxury resorts and rental cars are crowding out the allure of the simple, beautiful island I have loved for so long. Things never stay the same, that's for sure. But that "Sheraton" would be the death knell to returning tourists who think fake lagoons and over-water bungalows are blights on the landscape.

  • Comment Link Rich Barltrop Tuesday, 28 October 2014 19:18 posted by Rich Barltrop

    The last thing the Government needs, is to fund a roading project for a private group, of which it will get little or no return. (Not to mention the groynes that they expect the local govt to foot the bill). Maybe the govt money would be better spent on the existing 31km of below average roads. If the prescident is set, what is stopping every other resort on the inland side of the road getting the Govt to put a road around the back of their resort to give them unrestricted access to the beach.

  • Comment Link Michael Innes Jones Tuesday, 28 October 2014 09:24 posted by Michael Innes Jones

    Having watched the farce of the "Sheraton" site from its inception and examined the ealiest financial aspects of the failed project I am not surprised that thecurrent proposal requires the Government to foot the bill for the road diversion and the lagoon protection. The builing already stands as a memorial to government stupidity lets not compound the original disaster by pouring government or more likely aid funds into the swamp. Perhaps a full enqiry should be carried out by an independent body before any more action is taken.

  • Comment Link Peg Duggan Tuesday, 28 October 2014 03:43 posted by Peg Duggan

    Leave good enough alone. I have been visiting Rarotonga for the past fifteen years and truly feel that the property in mention should not be developed as planned. The lure and beauty of the island does not fit with a huge five star hotel....that is not why visitors come to the island. The beautiful shoreline at the property would be greatly missed as seen from the existing road. Please insist on a development that would fit in with the natural beauty and slow and tranquil pace of the island.

  • Comment Link Ewan Cameron Monday, 27 October 2014 22:43 posted by Ewan Cameron

    Out of interest, in the original agreement did government agree to covering the cost of relocating the main road?
    Whether or not govt did agree back then why would government entertain that responsibilty now, and what would it cost local taxpayers to relocate this road and install groynes?

    If an artificial lagoon is to be made would it require dredging of sand, if so where is the proposed location and how much sand would be required?

    How will the overwater bungalows treat its waste to ensure zero leakage or pollution of the lagoon?

    What would be the hotels main water source the public supply or will it harvest and store its own? If it intends to primarily use the public supply how much would they require on average? How would this impact on residential and existing private sector consumption vs current and future capacity especially during drought season?

    Would the company have an environmental and social policy specfic to their project in Rarotonga?

    Thanks for allowing the opportunity to ask these questions.