By Shermain Bique-Charles
The 62-square-mile island of Barbuda has been earmarked as the location for another multi-million-dollar hotel which, according to reports, will be built by Australian billionaire, James Packer, and Robert De Niro.
Packer and his friend, Hollywood legend De Niro are said to be the investors behind an ambitious $733 million resort in Barbuda. De Niro also owns the Nobu Inn which is also located on the sister island.
Packer, 54, and De Niro, 78, purchased the lease for the derelict K Club Resort in 2014 intending to create the Paradise Found resort. It was reported in 2018 that Packer had pulled out amid controversy over land rights on the sister isle.
However, according to recent reports from the Sydney Morning Herald, Packer said he and De Niro had spent a very productive 24 hours together and that he was pleased to say that it’s a done deal.
The newspaper reported that Packer and De Niro bought a derelict resort on Barbuda in 2015 and, after six years of planning and getting the approval from local authorities, Packer disclosed that the project is finally on the starting blocks and about to get underway.
“Bob and I are going to build the best resort in the Caribbean together,” Packer said, during his interview with the online publication, adding that there would be no casino in the new development.
“We are going to build something unique and beautiful, and I believe Barbuda will also prove to be an excellent commercial development. I love being in business with Bob. He is a living legend.”
The duo plans to have the resort, which is located on a 391-acre plot of land on Princess Diana Beach, operational by next year.
The mega-resort will feature one to four-bedroom villas, each of which will have its own private pool and beach access.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gaston Browne told Observer that he was delighted to hear that the duo had restored their relationship and they would be investing in a hotel in Barbuda
“A few years ago, Packer wrote me a letter advising that he had to withdraw from the Barbuda project because of the litigation by Trevor Walker. He said to me that they were damaging his global business interest and his brand,” Browne said.
But now, he said the recent Privy Council decision has settled the Barbuda land controversy, “which we all know was based on a myth…”, Browne added.
The decision by the London-based court of appeal, according to Browne, has also restored investor confidence in Barbuda, to the extent that another luxury resort will soon be announced for the sister isle.
“Barbuda is a great story of resilience … transforming a once-neglected island into the crown jewel of the Antiguan and Barbudan people,” Browne said.