VIGL Operations, owners of Christiansted’s 44-room Caravelle Hotel and Casino, has purchased the nearby 44-room King Christian Hotel and the 36-room Company House Hotel and plans to use those pre-existing hotel rooms to meet its casino license requirements. VIGL Operations also has the franchise to operate the territory’s two horse racing tracks.
“The company’s purchase of The King Christian and Company House Hotel exemplifies our commitment to the revitalization of this historic town and the island,” VIGL Vice President of Operations Lance Griffith said in a statement issued Thursday.
“The addition of the two hotels exceeds our obligations under the Class IV casino law and enhances our portfolio of offerings to visitors to the destination,” Griffith said.
The Legislature enacted the Casino Control Act in 1995 with the aim of increasing hotel rooms on St. Croix. It allowed casino gambling only on St. Croix and tied it to hotel development.The law was amended in December 2016 to allow slot machines at the race track on St. Thomas, at VIGL’s behest.
Under V.I. law, a Casino IV license requires “75 qualifying sleeping units that have been renovated or newly constructed,” along with banquet facilities able to serve at least 400 people. There are investment requirements too.
According to the company’s statement, CRG Holdings, LLC bought the Caravelle in 2015 and partnered with VIGL Operations, LLC, to manage and operate the hotel’s slot machine parlor. Company officials say the hotel completed a $2.5 million renovation of the Caravelle in 2016.
The purchase of existing hotels is a change from what the company proposed when the V.I. Casino Control Commission granted it a provisional casino license in February 2016. At the VICCC hearing, before the commission approved the license, Griffith and other company officials presented a drawing for a planned 48-room hotel in the parking lot area next to the hotel, with a convention center adjacent to the seaplane port.
Because fewer than half of the required 75 rooms have been remodeled or completed at that time, the gaming license was approved with the stipulation that the remaining rooms be built within 30 months.
In October 2016, as the VICCC voted to extend the license, outgoing VICCC Commissioner Henry Richardson told the Source that he hopes the commission keeps VIGL’s “feet to the fire” in the commitment to add more than 30 hotel rooms in Christiansted within the next 30 months. At that time, Jason Williams, general manager for the downtown casino, told the VICCC he could not speak to the details, but he said he was assured that the company remained committed to the expansion. Problems with land acquisition, stationing of cranes in downtown and permit delays were all cited as reasons why work has not yet begun on the expansion. (See Related Links below.)
With Thursday’s announcement, it is now apparent there will be no new hotel rooms. Instead, VIGL plans extensive renovations at all three hotels into 2018 and beyond. The three hotels have a combined 124 rooms and are all currently open and accepting guests.