Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC is set to take over the management of the Mariana Resort & Spa after the Commonwealth Lottery Commission approved its request to run the hotel in yesterday’s meeting on Capital Hill.
In particular, IPI was approved to operate Mariana Resort as a less than a four- or five-star property.
This was part of the request the company submitted to the commission last month. That request included an extension on the deadline to build the initial gaming facility in Garapan, which was approved, and allowing IPI to open the planned integrated resort in phases; the commission still has to discuss that at its next meeting.
CLC chair Mark Rabauliman said that yesterday’s meeting was to discuss if they would allow IPI’s request to operate Mariana Resort and the surrounding facilities of the Marpi property that included the Olympic-size swimming pool and golf course.
“Today’s meeting was relating to he items that were tabled during our Aug. 30 meeting. The items that were tabled was allowing them to operate the Mariana Resort & Spa under a four-star conditions as was stated in the [casino license agreement]. The other one was allowing them to open, when they get their land lease and start building the integrated resort, in phases,” said Rabauliman.
However, the commission eventually only decided to allow the company to take over the operations of the Mariana Resort & Spa and put all other matters back on the table for further discussion.
Rabauliman said the close to three-hour long meeting yesterday focused much of the discussion on IPI’s accountability. “We want to make sure that both parties, in this case the Lottery Commission and IPI, are on the same page in terms of the proposed language.”
“It all boils down to making sure that it does not prevent them from operating an integrated resort lower than what is required. That’s why we wanted to make sure, every time we’re talking about it, the property up north that we’re referring to is Mariana Resort & Spa,” he said.
Rabauliman likened the agreement to an owner of a building that hired an individual to manage or run the facility but does not own the property. “That is only management that they will be doing or maintaining whatever level they are at.”
IPI will take over managing the property on Oct. 1 after Kan Pacific Saipan ceases its operations on Sept. 30. But CLC and IPI must also first sign the contract on or before the end of the month.
“It would be more comfortable for both parties once the agreement is signed. Right now, we’re giving them [IPI] authority [to manage] verbally,” said Rabauliman, who met with CLC legal counsel Chris Timmons after the meeting to begin drafting the new contract.
“Once finalized, the only thing left is the circulation of the signatures. Both parties need to agree with the language. The specific language is for the operations of the Mariana Resort & Spa. That’s basically the entire operations with the pool and other facilities.”
Amenable to CLC’s decision
IPI Special Projects senior vice president Viola Alepuyo said they are amenable to CLC’s decision. That referred to authorizing IPI to take over the operations of Marianas Resort.
Lottery commissioner Robert Guerrero said: “Sept. 30 is approaching and I grew up in San Roque. I know a lot of workers there [Mariana Resort & Spa]. I’m concerned for their livelihood. I don’t see what’s the issue on authorizing IPI to continue the [Mariana Resort] operations while they are building [the integrated resort],” said Guerrero.
Alepuyo asked for a short recess to consult with IPI general counsel Phil Tydingco about Guerrero’s concern. She then informed the commission, once the meeting resumed, that they are amenable to helping the more than 100 employees of Mariana Resort that would be affected if it shuts down on Sept. 30.
“We are amenable to that, only because we don’t want the almost 100 people out there who will lose their jobs if Mariana Resort & Spa closes down and we don’t want the community to lose out on the pool.”
“We made it clear, in our response to the [request for proposal] to DPL, we said that if we were awarded the RFP and Marianas Resort & Spa is still in operations, then all employees will be absorbed by IPI. [Be]cause I know that was also a concern raised by DPL. We made it clear on both RFPs that we’re going to absorb the employees if they are willing to work for IPI,” added Alepuyo.