10 Sep 2009

Developer remains optimistic about stalled Cook Islands hotel project

2:42 pm on 10 September 2009

The man behind a multi-million dollar hotel development in the Cook Islands remains optimistic about its future, despite the fact that the landowner has terminated his lease.

The project, begun as the Vaimaanga Hotel in 1987 has lain unfinished after work on it stopped in the 1990s.

The Hilton chain put its support behind the venture in 2007 with two New Zealand property developers, Dan McEwan and Tim Tepaki, as joint partners but Mr McEwan's bankruptcy earlier this year left Mr Tepaki with sole responsibility for the project.

The owner of the land on which the hotel is to be built, the paramount chief of the Takitumu people, has now terminated Mr Tepaki's lease because he's failed to meet his commitments.

Mr Tepaki says he still plans to build the hotel.

"The real problem is funding out of New Zealand has been exhausted. I've now got to look elsewhere and I have sourced the funds from elsewhere. Now I'm trying to tidy it up, it's the same funder for both my four hotels and the Hilton. It takes a long time to scope developments and things don't happen overnight."

Tim Tepaki in the Cook Islands.