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June 22, 2010

Suva landmark the Grand Pacific Hotel appears on the verge of being sold to an international bidder.
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama last Friday confirmed there are possible developments.

But he referred all questions to Fiji National Provident Fund chief executive officer Aisake Taito.

Mr Taito yesterday confirmed that negotiations are underway with a preferred bidder for the harbourside hotel, once the pride of Fiji.

One source suggested that the foreign-owned bidder wants to have a casino in the hotel.

Mr Taito said any gambling interest would have to be approved by the Government.

The Grand Pacific, on Victoria Parade, was opened by the Union Steamship Company in 1914 to serve the needs of passengers on its then Pacific routes.

It became the Suva hotel of the royal, the rich and the famous.

But by the 1980s it had lost some of its reputation, with the addition of buildings alongside including a public bar and nightclub.

The hotel has been closed since 1992 after an earlier effort to restore it to its former glory failed.

This effort included the demolition of the more recent buildings around the original structure.

The hotel was declared a national heritage site with any development needing to integrate the present building into the overall architectural design.

There have been numerous plans and proposals for the site.

The National Provident Fund’s investment arm was the latest with intentions to redevelop the Grand Pacific back to its past grandeur.

But these plans have not yet gone ahead.

In the meantime, part of the hotel has been used as a garrison for soldiers.

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