Abandoned Cook Islands Sheraton may open 30 years late

(Rarotonga Sheraton)

Of the South Pacific’s 15 Cook Islands, Rarotonga is the largest and most populous. And it is also home to a dilapidated, long-abandoned beachfront resort that just may get new life

Once a Sheraton Hotel, the empty building dates back to 1987. At the time, the Cook Islands Government signed a $52-million contract with an Italian bank. The Italian Government insured the set-up, an Italian contractor started work—but then “went bust,” as the New Zealand Herald claims, and the project was abandoned at nearly 90-percent completion. The hotel never opened to guests.

Auckland-based Mirage Group and Napier builder Herbert Construction NZ had plans to restore the property two years ago, but instead, the structure was put up for sale by Bayleys Real Estate.

And now, Bayleys Fiji and the South Pacific director Philip Toogood are reporting that serious negotiations for the "unique" property were “progressing well.” Baileys has already completed plans for a luxury resort with over-water cabins, and permission for some landscaping has already been granted by the government. 

If completed, the site will become a resort that can accommodate up to 460 rooms, villas and apartments. 

Satellite image courtesy of Google
Photo courtesy of Callum Brownlee