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Thursday, September 29, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesCaneel Bay Lease Bill Passes House

Caneel Bay Lease Bill Passes House

A bill authorizing the Secretary of Interior to enter into a lease with the owners of Caneel Bay Resort on St. John passed the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday.
“Passage of this bill today culminates more than four years of hard work to ensure that Caneel Bay Resort will continue to be the premier world-class facility that it is,” Delegate Donna M. Christensen said.
A similar measure passed the House in the previous Congress but didn’t make it through the Senate. Christensen re-introduced the measure in January 2009. It passed the Senate in May and will now go to President Obama for his approval.
Christensen spoke before the House on behalf of the bill, explaining the history of the resort and its importance to St. John tourism.
The resort was opened in 1956 by Laurance S. Rockefeller, who, along with others, donated land that formed the initial acreage of the park. While the resort owns the buildings, the park owns the land.
She explained that Caneel’s lease agreement, called a Retained Use Estate, is slated to expire in 2023. She said the current owners require more than its remaining 13 years to provide the capital and long-term financing necessary to reverse the decline of the facilities at the resort, which has been in bankruptcy for many years, and return it to the grandeur and stature that it deserves.
The legislation’s passage will clear the way for the resort to make badly needed upgrades to its facilities to keep it operating.
The operational agreement is not a lease in the usual sense of the word but a series of unique operational agreements that have governed the relationship between the park and the resort from its inception.
Christensen told the House that Caneel Bay is the largest private sector employer on the island of St. John, employing more than 400 workers. She said that many of those workers spend their entire careers, spanning two or three decades, working at Caneel.
“As a major tourist destination point, Caneel has played a prominent role in the growth of the Virgin Islands as a major tourism destination in the Caribbean,” Christensen said. “And, as a testament to its unique charm and beauty, it remains the paradise of choice for generations of families, many of whom return every year since its founding in October of 1956.”
A request for comment to Rosewood Resorts, the company that operates Caneel Bay, was forwarded to the resort’s marketing director, Patrick Kidd. He said he couldn’t comment on the bill’s passage because he “hadn’t been apprised of it.”

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