Imperial Pacific International (IPI) has moved one step closer to taking over operations of Saipan’s Mariana Resort & Spa after the Lottery Commission this week approved the company’s request to operate a hotel of less than five stars.
The approval follows a recent announcement by Kan Pacific that it would cease operations at Mariana Resort on 30 September 2018 after more than 40 years. IPI quickly put its hand up to run the hotel instead but needs special permission given that its Casino License Agreement specifically limits it to running five-star hotels.
According to Marianas Variety, the Lottery Commission has given the green light to IPI’s request on the condition that Mariana Resort & Spa is the only hotel of less than five stars under its management. The company’s casino and hotel at Imperial Pacific Resort, which was recently granted a two-and-a-half year extension for completion to 28 February 2021, must still be five star.
IPI’s bid to lease and manage Mariana Resort & Spa is still being negotiated with the Department of Public Lands.
Also being considered by the Lottery Commission is a request by IPI to open Imperial Pacific Resort in phases.
It was only three week ago that the company’s Casino License Agreement was amended by Saipan’s Casino Control Commission and the construction deadline extended to 2021 after it became clear that IPI would not be able to meet its previous 31 August 2018 deadline.
Lottery Commission Chairman Mark Rabauliman said, “The request to allow them to open in stages was tabled as they are still negotiating the lease with DPL. For property management, DPL is ready to move with a contract so with that in mind we came back to the table to address the request which is to allow IPI to operate a facility of under five-star quality.
“There was a lot of discussion revolving around that because we want to make sure that we hold them accountable, and we want to make sure … that we are only specifically talking about Mariana Resort & Spa which they can maintain while they are putting together their plans for their Integrated Resort. We want to make sure that both parties in this case, the Lottery Commission and IPI, are on the same page.”
Rabauliman said the Lottery Commission preferred giving IPI the chance to operate Mariana Resort & Spa in order to save the jobs of the property’s employees.