Lawmaker urges Best Sunshine to look at private lands

Cavanagh reiterates Kan Pacific, Best Sunshine can co-exist

Instead of taking over the land lease of Mariana Resort & Spa and linking it with the public land immediately north of it that used to be leased by Flame Sako, Best Sunshine International Ltd. would be better served looking at private lands first, one lawmaker said.

Mariana Resort general manager Gloria Cavanagh, meanwhile, reiterated it would be in the CNMI’s best interest if Kan Pacific and Best Sunshine are both allowed to do business on the island, serving their Japanese and Chinese tourist markets respectively.

Rep. Anthony Benavente (Ind-Saipan), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said a win-win situation for both the government and private landowners is for the Hong Kong-based investor to lease the more available private lands on Saipan instead.

“There are other lands. There are private lands that Best Sunshine can lease, what with all the money they’re investing now and they have so much in the stock market. They should come and look at private lands first,” said Benavente.

Off the the top of Benavente’s head are prime real estate in Lau Lau Bay, Tanapag, and the area between Obyan and Ladder beaches—all private lands that can readily suit Best Sunshine’s $7.1-billion integrated resort project.

“Let’s encourage Best Sunshine to look into leasing private land instead of taking over Mariana Resort’s lease. They won’t have any problem there. A lot of private landowner will be very happy…Best Sunshine should look at Lau Lau Bay. You pass by San Vicente and go right, there’s a beautiful, beautiful private land there. Tanapag from the Igitol property all the way up north to Aqua Resort Club is also another option. There’s that beautiful land out there. It’s very big. There’s another private land between Obyan Beach and Ladder Beach. There’s a lot of private land out there…”

Best Sunshine leasing private land will result in private landowners having money on hand that would eventually circulate in the local economy, Benavente said.

“It can also help local people. They will be spending and buying a lot of things. They can renovate their homes. It can benefit our local people if Best Sunshine just chooses to buy private land.”

Unlike public land, which can initially be leased for 25 years with an additional 15-year extension, private land leases can be had for up to 55 years—and quite possibly for 99 years if voters approve an Article 11 initiative in the November polls.

Maximizing markets

Cavanagh, in an email to the Saipan Tribune, responded to Gov. Eloy S. Inos’ call for the two companies to bare their future plans on the Marpi property and then go from there.

“The issue regarding the Kan Pacific property is not simply a comparison between an offer by Best Sunshine and an offer by Kan Pacific. The issue is regarding whether it would be in the best interest of the CNMI to allow Best Sunshine to have the Marianas Resort property and thereby eject Kan Pacific from Saipan or whether it would be in the best interests of the CNMI to have both Best Sunshine and Kan Pacific doing business in the CNMI and maximizing the Japanese market as well as the Chinese market.”

She also called on the Legislature to reject any overtures by Best Sunshine on the Marpi property it leases if indeed it has the CNMI people’s interest in mind.

“Even if Best Sunshine were to make a larger or better offer, the Legislature could and should still reject it because it is in the best interests of the CNMI to allow Kan Pacific to remain and to cause Best Sunshine to have their casino multiplex located elsewhere, so that both businesses can contribute to the CNMI economy.”

No comparison

Benavente said that pitting Mariana Resort’s future investments in the Marpi property against what Best Sunshine has planned is similar to comparing apples to oranges.

“Its’ really sad they’re comparing the proposed investment of Mariana Resort and Best Sunshine. You cannot really compare. One is a multi-billion dollar conglomerate and the other is just a family owned enterprise.”

If he’d have his way, Benavente said Mariana Resort should be allowed to extend its lease at its Marpi property and continue to cater to the Japanese tourist market.

“Mariana Resort has stuck with us from the very beginning. They’re paying their share and doing their best. This is the only remaining major Japanese investment in the CNMI. We’re like working to eliminate the Japanese tourist market. We seem to want just a Chinese tourist market here on Saipan. No more Japanese. Where is that concept of having different tourists and having different investors for that matter?”

Mariana Resort is pursuing at least a $30-million added investment for a 25-year renewal of its public land lease that’s expiring in April 2018.

Part of that additional investment is the addition of 100 executive rooms. Currently, Mariana Resort has 74 hotel rooms and 50 individual cottages.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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