The landmark Bahamas project is staying on track to open — and make an even bigger impact on the Bahamian economy than it already has.
If you’re not familiar with Baha Mar, you probably should be. The 1,000-acre, $3.5 billion resort, gaming and entertainment complex slated to open in Nassau in late 2014, will include Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Morgans Hotel Group (Mondrian Hotels) and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, as well as a casino hotel, creating more than 2,200 new rooms within four spectacular new hotels. Within the hotels, Baha Mar plans to develop 300 highly exclusive residential condominiums and villas, available for private ownership. Baha Mar’s stunning, new 100,000 square-foot casino will be the largest in the Caribbean, and one of the most compelling and exciting gaming experiences in North America, comparable only to the best in Las Vegas. Baha Mar will also feature versatile convention facilities with a combined 200,000 square feet of space, portions of which can also double as an entertainment and sports venue.
Other amenities will include a planned 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Course anda 50,000 square-foot retail village, as well as a water park, pools, and three spas set along 3,000 feet of beachfront. Robert D. L. “Sandy” Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice president of government and external affairs, took some time to answer questions from journalist Matt McDaniel.
What is the latest with the Baha Mar project and how is it progressing?
We broke ground on February 21, 2011 which was our most significant milestone. We’ve just completed West Bay Street, which was also another milestone and also our commercial village. [Editor’s note: West Bay Street is an important road that traverses the northern coast of the island as well as Cable Beach, where Baha Mar is being built.]
You may or may not be aware that Baha Mar works in conjunction with the government of The Bahamas, and local contractors completed the infrastructure that was necessary to form the footprint for the core project to start. In addition to that we are working to solidify our positioning in terms of being able to announce our casino partner going forward and we hope to be able to do that fairly soon.
What is the significance of the West Bay Street opening?
Well, you must understand that West Bay Street in the past ran east and west right through the center of what we will be calling the new resort campus of Baha Mar. It was important for us to reroute this road to have a contiguous resort campus and allow us to have the footprint developed in such a way that it was unimpeded by any vehicular traffic coming through the resort. So that milestone of completing the road really signaled the real start of the superstructure for Baha Mar, which we hope to have completed by last quarter 2014.
So everything is going as planned?
Yes, we are very happy with what we have achieved today, especially on the impact of having been able to use a significant amount of local Bahamian labor. We’ve impacted in excess of 1,500 employment opportunities for Bahamians and, like I said, this entire phase was done predominately by Bahamian contractors. So, we’ve made a tremendous contribution to the economy of the Bahamas.
Going back to the question about your original plans, have there been any changes to the details or the scope of the project, or are you still right in line with what you envisioned at the start?
There is simply tweaking; there have been no changes to the scope of the Baha Mar project. We remain a $3.5 billion dollar gaming and entertainment resort slated to open in 2014. This project is on about 1,000 acres. We have world class brands that we have announced already, and soon we will announce our casino hotel.
Altogether, we’ll create 2,200 new rooms. Within those hotels we’re going to have approximately 300 highly exclusive residential condos and villas available for private ownership.
When you say private ownership, do you mean timeshare, whole ownership, fractional?
This is a whole ownership, with option for rental revenue through our central reservation system approach. Basically owners will have the opportunity to stay in it for 3 months of the year and then have their condo within a rental pool and have a revenue-share type of arrangement, or they can occupy for 365 days.