Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

The 'cursed' resort of Rarotonga: Rundown beachfront property with mafia links for sale again

The abandoned Rarotonga resort that is for sale.
The abandoned Rarotonga resort that is for sale.

A piece of prime Rarotongan real estate - with links to the mafia and believed to be cursed - is up for sale again.

The beachfront property is the former site of the planned Sheraton Hotel, which now lays in a dilapidated, graffiti-ridden state on the islands southern side.

The property is well-known to tourists and locals alike who are either intrigued or scared by the site.

The current owner has already completed plans for a luxury resort featuring stylish hotel rooms; over water bures and a lush tropical garden. Photo / Supplied
The current owner has already completed plans for a luxury resort featuring stylish hotel rooms; over water bures and a lush tropical garden. Photo / Supplied

The hotel dates from a 1987 deal when the Cook Islands Government signed a $52 million contract with an Italian bank. The Italian Government insured the set-up, an Italian contractor started work but then went bust.

At the projects sod-turning ceremony, angry resident, More Rua, claiming to be the true resort landowner gatecrashed proceedings invoking a curse on the property before thrusting a spear into a rock bearing a project plaque.

The block split to the ground - an omen some took to signal the scheme's failure.

Auckland-based Mirage Group Ltd and Napier builder Herbert Construction NZ Ltd had plans to restore the property in 2014 but have now listed it on the market with Bayleys Real Estate.

But the property remains in poor condition. Graffiti still covers walls, room wiring has been torn and hoses are all that remain of air-conditioning units.

Any fittings which could be removed have long gone and the few which remain - immovable sunken baths, high-quality wash-basins - are chipped or smashed.

But Bayleys salesperson Philip Toogood says when complete, the property will be Rarotonga's first five-star resort with potential to accommodate up to 460 rooms, villas and apartments.

He expects strong interest from New Zealand, Fiji, the United States, and throughout Asia.

The walls of the resort are covered in graffiti and the inside is chipped and broken.
The walls of the resort are covered in graffiti and the inside is chipped and broken.

Although never completed, the original Sheraton buildings and structures remain largely sound and intact. The entire project was about 90 per cent complete when work stopped in the early 1990s.

The current owner has already completed plans for a luxury resort featuring stylish hotel rooms; over water bures and a lush tropical garden.

The new developer/investor will be free to make adjustments, or propose a completely new resort, as long as it remains a five-star product.

The current owner has already won approval for changes to the island's ring road which currently separates the buildings from the stunning beach. Approval has been given to re-route the road so that guests have unimpeded views and access to the 330 metre beachfront.

"This is a unique offer," he says. "It is unlikely there will be a second resort of this calibre and star rating in Rarotonga for a very long time, if ever."

The resort is in a dilapidated state.
The resort is in a dilapidated state.

"From the discussions I have already had with various government and local authorities in Rarotonga, it is clear there will be enormous support for the new developer/investor.

"The timing is right, and the market is ready. This will be very good for Rarotonga and very good for the South Pacific."

The site is being offered for sale by way of International Tender closing 24th May 2016.

The resort was the result of a deal between an Italian bank and the Cook Islands.
The resort was the result of a deal between an Italian bank and the Cook Islands.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 29 May 2017 03:42:25 Processing Time: 888ms