Posted on: December 21, 2022, 07:31h. 

Last updated on: December 21, 2022, 02:02h.

As Uruguay debates whether to allow online casinos, a new land-based casino will soon begin to emerge. La Nación reports the project in the city of Punta del Este is getting the go-ahead after years of delay.

Cipriani Group resort rendering
A possible rendering of the Cipriani Group resort coming to Punta del Este, Uruguay. The project is finally moving forward after years of delays. (Image: Architectural Digest)

The initial project emerged in 2018 through the international development company Cipriani Group and received approval in 2019. Since then, the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn forced a redirection of the project.

Recently, one of the development’s backers, Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, dropped out because it was taking too long. Cipriani threatened to give up as well, which may have forced officials to finally move and greenlight the project.

Time for Revival

The original design was scrapped in favor of a new design, and developers now have six months to get the project underway. The emblematic San Rafael Hotel and Casino in Punta del Este, in its prior form, will disappear, undergoing a complete transformation during the first part of the project. What will emerge will be the new Cipriani Ocean Resort and Club Residences Punta del Este.

The official forecasts expect this stage, which will focus on a hotel, will take between two and a half to three years to complete. The second part of the project, which includes the construction of three towers, could take between seven and 10 years.

One of those towers will be 320 meters (1,049 feet) tall. That, according to Cipriani, will make it the tallest building in Latin America.

If the deadline for beginning construction expires without any work starting, Cipriani will have two options. It can either request an extension or request a change in the development. That would open the possibility of something other than a resort, such as residential buildings, arising in its place.

Cipriani, which has shown support for online gambling as casino workers fight against it, has already invested some $53 million in the project, which reportedly will cost over $430 million. Now that Sawiris dropped out, the company is reportedly covering all of the expenses.

Joining the Old with the New

The complex, with its exclusive casino, will generate 1,000 permanent jobs, according to Cipriani. This is in addition to those the construction of the project brings to the area.

By the time construction is done, the former San Rafael will emerge as a new building, following the same layout as before. It will offer 80 rooms and 268 underground parking spaces. The casino will occupy the space of the hotel’s former basement area.

Meanwhile, the towers will have 282 housing units. There will be a spa, gym, indoor and outdoor pools, as well as tennis courts, beauty salons, and medical facilities.

Despite the project dating back to 2018, Cipriani didn’t receive a concession for the casino until December 2020. Then, in April 2021, it presented updated plans for the project.

Cipriani reportedly invested $40 million to get the idea off the ground, but says it has already spent $200 million on the project.