|From left to right, Travel Agent's Joe Pike, Marie Walker of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and legendary actor Robert De Niro pose for a selfie at the 21 Club in New York City during a dinner hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority.|
NEW YORK CITY, New York -- Legendary actor Robert De Niro was at the 21 Club Monday night to help promote Antigua and Barbuda tourism, but he gave all the Caribbean islands a positive plug when he told Travel Agent he wished he had the chance to film in the region.
"I would love to," De Niro says of filming a movie in the Caribbean. "If the timing was right and with the family there, we'd all be there, what better place?"
The dinner, hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, kicked off Caribbean Week New York and was intended to promote the aggressive developments scheduled for the two sister islands. De Niro was part of a contingent that included Asot Michael, Antigua and Barbuda's minister of tourism, and Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
So, how does the Taxi Driver actor fit in?
The Academy Award-winning actor and investor James Packer plan to turn Barbuba's K-Club hotel into a luxury resort that would represent a $250 million investment. The plans were officially approved in early March in a referendum by a vote of 206-175.
Although De Niro didn't address the press as a whole, Travel Agent managed to chat with him for a few minutes.
"I've always looked for places over the years to find houses personally, but also for building a dream resort and I came across that place in Barbuda," De Niro told Travel Agent.
He told Travel Agent he first visited Barbuda about 25 years ago. He was staying in Antigua and went over to Barbuda for the afternoon to have lunch.
During that same trip, De Niro said he visited the Grenadines, Antigua, St. Bart's and St. Maarten, but the beach he visited on Barbuda never left his mind. He went back years later with his family and thought, "I remember this beach, I remember this place," and decided that was where he wanted to build his dream resort.
"I've always loved the Caribbean," De Niro told us from his dinner table. "I'm from New York. I love the Caribbean and I don't want to compare it to other places that are close to the U.S. but the Caribbean has varied cultures - not that the other places didn't - but it's just so great, so special."
Other luminary guests included Ambassador Aubrey Webson and Ambassador Gilbert Boustany. Ascot and Browne both spoke to the audience about the revolution of Antigua and Barbuda in becoming an economic powerhouse in the Eastern Caribbean.
Achievements of the government within the past year that were shared with the audience included raising more than $2 billion in capital, strides in making the Citizenship by Investment Unit the most lucrative in the industry while maintaining the highest international security standards, a promise for a total transformation of port facilities and downtown St. John’s and the imminent opening of the new airport terminal at V.C Bird International Airport.
The event also featured the official signing and partnership between The Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Sunwing Travel Group to develop a 500-room all-inclusive resort under the Royalton Luxury Resorts brand on Deep Bay, Antigua. Construction will commence this summer on The Royalton Antigua Resort & Spa, as well as a residential complex with over 200 condominium units. Slated to open in 2017, this $400 million development is expected to represent 2,000 new jobs for Antigua and a massive injection to the economy.