IRs insist: we will open on time

Don’t bet on it! That’s the advice from quite a few observers as the people behind Singapore’s two planned integrated resorts insist that they will open on time.

Marina Bay Sands is scheduled to open at the end of next year. Sentosa Resorts World is set to open in the first quarter of 2010.

Upset contractors, who say the two operators are trying to renegotiate the prices verbally agreed upon for their services, told Today this was a sign of “budget difficulties”. And as a result, the projects would most likely be delayed.

“The cost of building the IRs are turning out to be higher than they had budgeted for,” said a contractor, without giving his name.

A major stumbling block – quite literally – for the construction of the Marina Bay Sands is an old British sea wall which was discovered shortly after excavation works began. Last year, the project designer told the media that the process of removing it was “extremely costly and
complicated”.

But when contacted, both resort operators rebutted suggestions – reported in The Straits Times yesterday – that they would not be opening on time.

Marina Bay Sands general manager George Tanasijevich said: “We continue to target the end of next year for the opening of Marina Bay Sands.”

The Straits Times article added that show organisers and couples hoping to book the venue for their weddings at the end of the year had been turned away.

Mr Tanasijevich replied that Marina Bay Sands were only accepting bookings that take place after the end of next year. A logical move, according to the company, given that no specific date has been fixed for the resort’s opening.

Sentosa Resorts World’s head of communications Krist Boo also reiterated that its plans were on track. The Straits Times article said only four hotels, casinos and the Universal Studios theme park would be opened as scheduled in the first quarter of next year. The reason for the delays of its remaining facilities was due to the fact that there was “a pressing need to find storage space for the equipment” of the theme park.

But Ms Boo maintained this had been “the plan all along”. She added: “The other attractions, including the marine life park, the integrated destination spa and remaining two hotels, will open in subsequent quarters.”

She stated: “It would not be accurate to describe this schedule as the result of ‘delays’.”

Responding to the contractors’ grievances, Ms Boo said the resort’s management “has a responsibility to its shareholders to drive a hard bargain during negotiations”. She stressed: “All the financing for the resort is in place, and there are no ‘budget difficulties’.”

Source : Today – 31 Oct 2008

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