Uruguay’s president Tabaré Vázquez Rosas has given his blessing to a plan by Luxembourg-based Cipriani S.A to build a casino as part of its new resort development in the city of Punta del Este.
The $180m first phase of the Cipriani Ocean Resort and Club Residences development will include 70 hotel rooms, 75 apartments, and a casino, along with a restaurants, a spa, meeting spaces, and sports facilities. The project will generate 500 new direct jobs.
According to a resolution signed by the president in June, once all phases are built out, the complex will include “a new San Rafael Hotel, a casino, commercial premises, a convention centre, theatre, spa and amenities, two underground garages and residences”.
Alongside the president’s endorsement, both the ministries of Economy and Tourism have also issued reports in favour of the project.
Cipriani began the demolition of the San Rafael Hotel in May, with construction scheduled to start in August.
While the company originally planned to restore and refurbish the Tudor-style hotel, which it acquired for more than $40m in February 2018, Cipriani later stated that the structure was “unsafe” and opted to demolish it and build a replica. However this decision has generated some controversy.
“Everyone could clearly see that San Rafael was falling down. The roof caved in around seven years ago.
“The project was approved with two underground levels, so we’ve got to do it, to create the car parks, and [to allow us to lay] the foundations of the buildings behind it,” Cipriani clarified.
“We are not doing anything differently [to the planning proposal] that we presented to the city council.”
Between September and October the complex’s luxury apartment units, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, will go on sale at $6,000 per square metre.
“We’re going to sell them abroad. In the US, we have agreed to sell them through the best brokers, and likewise in the rest of the world,” Cipriani continued.
“We have a very good relationship with Douglas Elliman, a major real estate entrepreneur in the United States. He will be offering them to his clients.
“These are apartments with huge terraces, the highest quality of service, and a beautiful view of Brava beach. Last summer we met with on average eighty people per day, all of them were interested in the project.”
While the project has yet to receive a casino licence, Cipriani stated that the company plans to open the first phase by “2021 or 2022 if everything goes well”.
In March, Uruguay’s Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) confirmed it will be necessary to call a public tender before issuing a casino licence for the project. Nevertheless, local media reports suggest that as following the government’s endorsement of the development, Cipriani will have a competitive advantage against any other bidders.