The Sheraton has been in a state of disrepair for decades. Inset: At one stage several years ago units constructed by an earlier would-be developer were being used as unofficial accommodation. Photo: Al Williams/ 22050203
Prime Minister Mark Brown has confirmed Government will not contribute taxpayer dollars to the proposed Sheraton redevelopment.
Brown, in a written statement on Friday, announced the project following months of speculation.
Cook Islands News has been asking about the site in recent months and last week revealed an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) has not been completed for a project at the Sheraton. A team from NES is evaluating it after a reader expressed concerns about mudflows through the creeks on either end of the property.
Brown confirmed in a written statement that the
redevelopment will be led by local businessman Chris Vaile, managing director
of Radun Ltd - a new partnership formed with landowner Pa Ariki.
On Monday, Cook Islands News asked Brown if Government is
contributing anything to the project.
“No,” he said.
However, Brown said the project will contribute to the
economic development of Cook Islands, offering employment to locals, and improving
Brown said was not aware of the estimated cost of the
Cook Islands News has previously contacted Vaile and Sam Napa
with questions about the site, but has not received a response.
On Monday Brown added, he is “thrilled that this project is
finally going to be completed after 30 years of sitting idle”.
“I'm even more thrilled that a local developer is going to
be working with the landowners to get this complete."
The development has been plagued by a long run of failures
over the past four decades.
In February 2018 rumours circulated in Rarotonga about who
would win the rights for the Sheraton project.
At the time it was alleged that a group of Chinese investors
had made a tender offer on the site.
It was announced at the end of 2017 that New Zealand’s
Mirage Group surrendered its lease.
Mirage Group, which acquired the lease in 2010, abandoned
its plans for the rundown resort, joining a long list of those who had tried
and failed to complete the development.
The site has been derelict since the Italian-backed project
to build a five-star resort there collapsed in the early 1990s, almost
bankrupting the country.
The project was 80 per cent complete when it fell apart, but
over the years repeated efforts to finish the hotel have foundered.
The site is said to be jinxed after a curse, condemning any
business there to fail, was placed on the land during an ownership dispute that
led to a shooting there in 1911.
The curse was reintroduced in 1990 at the ceremony to mark
the start of work on the hotel when More Rua, a descendent of the shooting
victim, entered the site and split the rock bearing a commemorative plaque with
a spear. Nowadays the 70ha site has become something of a tourist attraction in
its own right, and visitors can tour the area for a small fee and even play
The buildings remain standing but have long since lost their
fixtures and fittings, and opinion is divided on whether the structures can be