Mr Saladino signed a 99-year lease on 1200 acres with the St Vincent and The Grenadines Government, and reached out to attract successful brands including Donald J. Trump, Singapore based Raffles Resorts, Moorings Yacht Company among others.
In the early 1990s, the Canouan Resorts Development Ltd (CRD) company was formed and began transforming Canouan, spending $200 million on two hotels – Raffles Resort and Tamarind Beach Hotel – a golf course and infrastructure.
They laid down 20 miles of roads, built desalination plants producing 640,000 gallons of water a day, and installed electricity to the island and residents houses. In addition to the hotel, Raffles Resort has private villas, as well as a golf course designed by Jim Fazio rated top course in the Caribbean.
In March 2008, a 5,900 feet international airport was opened that can accommodate large jet planes from North America and Europe.
Private jets parked on tarmac of Canouan International Airport.
To some, Mr Saladino and the commercialization of Canouan may seem something of a savior, but this is a story that has played out in other Caribbean islands developed by wealthy outsiders. While many locals now work for the resorts, and have water and electricity, they have also lost two thirds of their island, and restricted to many of their beaches. And it appears dredging in the bays and other environmentally unfriendly practices may be affecting the fragile reef offshore. All of this built for people who are whisked from the airport to the luxury gated resort community.
Private Golf Course on Canouan