19 Dec 2003

Cook Islands seals deal for completion of Vaimaanga Hotel

11:51 am on 19 December 2003

The Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Dr Robert Woonton has expressed his delight that a deal to complete the Vaimaanga hotel has been signed.

Yesterday Dr Woonton, the paramount chief Pa Ariki and Tim Tepaki of the Wellington based Tepaki Group signed a deal in Wellington to finish the hotel which has not been touched in ten years, and build a second hotel on Aitutaki.

The Cook Islands Govenrment has had ongoing debts since the collapse of the Italian company which started the project in the late eighties, and Dr Woonton says the new deal will be a relief for tax payers.

"The hotel has been a mill stone around the peoples' neck. They can now see the light at the end of the tunnel where government will be able to service the debt whch we owe on that hotel."

Dr Robert Woonton

The man heading the new project, Tim Tepaki of Tepaki Group, says for the deal to work, two hotels need to be built.

Tim Tepaki says the aim is to end their involvement with the Vaimaanga, which is to be called the Royal Takitumu Hilton Hotel, after the project is complete, but they will retain the new Captain Cook hotel on Aitutaki.

Vaimaanga will be sold on to investors and then we will help to get rid of Cook Islands' debt to the Italians. We will hold the Captain Cook, but the two hotels need to go together as sister resorts in order to work.