SAIPAN Portopia Hotel Corp., which owns Hyatt Regency Saipan, is very happy and grateful to the CNMI government for granting the company another 40-year land lease contract.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios joined Department of Public Lands Secretary Sixto K. Igisomar and Hyatt Regency Saipan General Manager Nick Nishikawa in a signing ceremony at Hyatt's Miyako Restaurant at 10 a.m. on Friday.
Hyatt's current land lease contract is expiring on Dec. 31, 2021.
Also attending the ceremony were Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez, Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider, other lawmakers and administration officials, Hotel Association of the NMI President Gloria Cavanagh, Saipan Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lee Tenorio and Governor's Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jerry Tan.
Nishikawa said, "I am very happy. My staff are very happy." He said he has been in the hotel industry for nearly 40 years and "this is the happiest moment of all."
He then read the message of Saipan Portopia President Hitoshi Nakauchi who is in Japan:
"I am very excited to hear that the land lease has been extended. It was 30 years ago when Saipan Portopia Hotel Corp. took over the ownership of Hyatt Regency Saipan. We have enjoyed many years of welcoming people from all around the world to this beautiful island."
Unfortunately, Nakauchi said, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused so much suffering and massive impact on the tourism industry.
But now, he said, "we are seeing the world re-opening and connecting once again. The return to pre-Covid days will be slow and difficult. I'd like to offer any assistance that will help the people in the island."
He added, "I look forward to the day when flights between Tokyo and Saipan return. I wish to encourage the people here in Japan to visit Saipan. I hope that soon, they will be able to meet the wonderful people on island and experience all the natural beauty, whether they come for business or fun.”
Nakauchi said he is “very grateful to all the Hyatt staff, DPL and Governor Torres. For 30 years, Hyatt Saipan has been strong, thanks for the support from our hardworking staff, the government and all the people of the community. I look forward to another 40 years.”
The governor said the signing ceremony was "very sentimental to all of us" because even the hotel's employees have reminded him how devoted Hyatt is to the people of the CNMI, and the many opportunities the hotel has been bringing to the Commonwealth.
He thanked Hyatt and its staff for constantly meeting with his administration. “At the end of the day,” he added, “the collaboration between government and private sector is beneficial to all of us."
Addressing Nakauchi, Nishikawa and the Hyatt staff, the governor said, "It is really a blessing for us here that you want to continue putting your investment and trust in the people of the CNMI."
For his part, Lt. Gov. Palacios, the author of Public Law 20-84 which allowed DPL to grant Hyatt another 40-year land lease contract, said, “This is a good day, a monumental day for the Commonwealth.”
"We got it done,” he added, referring to P.L. 20-84. “It was also controversial, as it should be, because we were dealing with public land” collectively owned by people of Northern Marianas Descent.
He noted that before the law was passed, “we had a very exhaustive process which included public hearings and in the end of all our efforts we were able to get it done, and I thank my colleagues back then.”
Palacios was the Senate president at the time.
“And now we are here today after all the things that were done for the benefit of the people of the CNMI,” he said on Friday.
DPL Secretary Sixto K. Igisomar said that aside from rent and other obligations, Hyatt agreed to provide a $1.5 million public benefit to the Commonwealth broken down as follows:
• $500,000 for homestead infrastructure.
• $500,000 for Garapan Revitalization Projects.
• $200,000 scholarship funds for NMD students payable in the amount of $5,000 annually for 40 years.
• $300,000 for promotion of traditional arts and culture.
Igisomar said Hyatt's new lease for 4.432 hectares of public land will commence on Jan. 1, 2022 for 40 years with an option to extend for an additional 15 years.
The fee simple value of the premises in the first five years of the term is $54,293,500. The base rent during this five-year period is $271,467 annually, plus 1% of business gross revenue.
Hyatt will also pay the government $250,000 in security deposit, plus 5% of the $45 million total construction cost.