AFTER more than five years of construction, the multi-million-dollar Five Islands Water Park at Chaguaramas, reputed to be the largest water park in the Caribbean, opened to the public on Friday.
Fouraime Enterprises chairman John Aboud, speaking at yesterday official launch, said the project is the largest tourism private investment in the country at $500 million.
Aboud said the water park cost $450 million dollars while the amusement park which has been operational for two years cost $50 million dollars.
“The water park took five-and-half years to build because we, the businessmen, underestimated the seriousness and the gravity of the construction as most of the work is underground. We learnt as we went along. Also $30 million worth of water pumps is submerged under this facility. I am pleased as well that this project employed over 1,500 workers and the job was done by local contractors.”
He explained that the monthly rental for the amusement park space was $417,000, but with addition of the water park, new rental arranegements are now being worked out with their landlords the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA).
Aboud described the venture as “where no man has ventured before” and said the funding was a consortium of RBC and FCB.
“This was not a bankable project six years ago, only because banks like sure things. So it was struggle with both the banks to convince them to join us in this investment. Without good bankers to support good projects we have nowhere to go in this country, because you need for banks to take a chance with good projects. You need banks to take a calculated risk, because not every project you can write the script for.”
Aboud said the establishment would be employing 400 people on a permanent basis and perhaps 250 on a temporary basis, but that is still being fine-tuned as it is based on the crowd response.
The Chairman said building Five Islands Water and Amusement Park had its challenges but in the end it worked out and he thanked the CDA for helping to rectify the issues that they encountered along the way.
Aboud said that stringent measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of the workers and patrons.
He noted that the water contains three times as much chlorine than is needed and a water system that kills bacteria along with a highly sensitive filtration system.
“Also we have installed three thermal cameras which will be able to identify persons who may have a high body temperature and if it detects a person, it would then go off and the patron will be pulled aside, where a discussion will ensue. This will help eliminate the bottle neck. The cameras cost over $100,000 each, but this was needed to ensure that patrons feel safe leaving the comfort of their homes.”
Aboud said the water and amusement park can hold up to 6,000 people but because of Covid restrictions still in place they will only accommodate up to 3,000.
The chairman believes that the fun and entertainment establishment can become a tourist attraction and it’s against this background that they will be twining the former Carlton Savannah Hotel and the water and amusement park together.
“The hotel which closed its doors in St Ann’s is currently being renovated and should be ready by next March so that it can be offered as a package to visitors,” Aboud said.
Also speaking at the launch was Robert Cezaire, member of the board of directors of CDA who hailed the project as major investment for the Chaguaramas Peninsula.
“We look forward to the increase traffic in Chaguaramas and other activities can also benefit from the construction of this establishment. The CDA is happy that this project also created jobs for young people.”