The project had, in fact, been conceived in a different moment, more than five years ago, when the US housing boom and global tourism seemed unstoppable.
One of the original developers, Caesar’s Entertainment Corp, formerly Harrah’s Entertainment, backed out of the project in 2008 and Chinese financiers stepped in after reaching a deal with project chief executive Sarkis Izmirlian. The agreement brought in a state-owned Chinese construction company to build the resort.
“This project is essential to developing business in the Caribbean and into the US,” said Tiger Wu, vice president of the construction company. “It’s only the beginning.”
All evidence indicates the Chinese are charging forward. They have made their US$3.5 billion gamble in the Bahamas. Elsewhere, they have promised tens of billions for everything from dams to railroads. Guyana has hired state-owned Shanghai Construction Group to build a 197-room Marriott Hotel on the southern edge of the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, traditional investors in the US and Europe have been left on the sidelines. It is China’s game now and the rest of the world is waiting to see how the big gambles pay off.
Additional reporting by Jeff Todd, Ian James, Ben Fox and Nick Perry.