June 5, 2013 (LBO) - A luxury hotel with Australian casino magnate James Packer's Crown group targeting Indian and Chinese high rollers may involve up to 400 million US dollars, its Sri Lanka partner said.
"We initially estimated this project to be about 350 million US dollars, but now we think it may cost up to 400 million US dollars," Ravi Wijeratne, head of Sri Lanka's Rank Holdings group said.
"It will have 430 rooms and it will attract high spending tourists. We are expecting to sell a room at a price between 450 to 500 US dollars."
He said the luxury development will target Indian and Chinese guests and also the conference and incentive travel market.
The entertainment resort to be located on Colombo's D R Wijeratne has run into controversy due to tax breaks to be given to the project and a planned reduction of a gaming levy by the state.
He said despite criticism the project has drawn it was not easy to attract a foreign investor the size of Crown, which will bring economic returns in the long term and negotiations took more than three years.
Both Wijeratne and Packer operate casinos.
"I have a casino license," Wijeratne said. "Casinos can be operated only on D R Wijewardene Mawatha so I will be taking my gaming business to this hotel.
"But there are other facilities including a 20,000 square foot conference hall."
There are already casinos on the road stretch.
He said the hotel will have a shopping mall and restaurants with specialist chefs.
Wijeratne's Rank Entertainment Investment is expected to have a 45 percent stake in the project, Crown 45 percent and other financial partners the balance.
Sri Lanka has seen a surge of tourist arrivals since the end of a war in 2009.
Sri Lanka's deputy economic development minister Lakshman Abeywardene told parliament this week that the project was luxury hotel with multiple facilities which would be subject to the betting and gaming license.
Abeywardene had said the land will be held by the local partner.
Last month Abeywardene told LBO that the investment application for the project had been submitted and it was being processed.