Bahamas happy with substantial cash injection

Baha Mar Development Company Limited have announced the completion of a Heads of Agreement with the Government of The Bahamas, defining terms for the long-anticipated $1.2 billion investment in Nassau’s Cable Beach resort strip. The agreement, which includes the purchase of the Radisson Cable Beach Resort from the government-owned Bahamas Hotel Corporation, comes 6 days after the group announced its purchase of the Nassau Beach Hotel and Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino from developer Philip Ruffin.

The major redevelopment and construction of the properties is scheduled to begin in 2007, although management has announced immediate plans to make substantial investments in improving guest and employee areas.

The project will create a world-class resort and gaming destination incorporating globally recognised hotel and casino brands with their enormous marketing power and high service standards. Phase I of the multi-property mega resort will accommodate 2,700 guest rooms across a broad spectrum of price points and multiple hotel experiences; 175,000 square feet of meeting and convention facilities; and a new 18-hole championship golf course.

At 75,000 square feet, the proposed ‘Las Vegas style’ casino will be the largest in the Caribbean. The resort will also boast a number of unique attractions and activities available to guests of the resorts, cruise passengers and the Bahamian public.

“The Heads of Agreement and our 1.2 billion dollar phase one investment is a major step for our company and an unprecedented event for The Bahamas,” said Baha Mar Vice Chairman, John Forelle.

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“I wish to acknowledge my respect for the Prime Minister’s vision and confidence that this project will produce the desired rebirth at Cable Beach, and to assure the Bahamian people of Baha Mar’s commitment to The Bahamas, to the employees at Cable Beach, and to the visitors of the resorts.”

An economic impact assessment, prepared by international financial analyst firm, Global Insight, revealed that work on the building and renovation of the new Cable Beach area would spawn the need for approximately 5,300 full time jobs during the first twelve months of construction, with first year construction wages estimated at US$140 million.

The report also estimated that the project would provide direct employment for an additional 4,100 Bahamians in its first year of operation with a likely increase of about 35 per cent by year two. Total employment is estimated to grow from 6,400 to almost 9,000 in the first three years of the resort’s operation.

Robert Heller, Baha Mar President and Chief Financial Officer said, “The creation of Baha Mar will have an enormous positive impact on The Bahamas, cementing it as the pre-eminent destination in the Caribbean. A mega-resort at Cable Beach would place New Providence at the levels of Las Vegas and Orlando as ‘must-visit’ destinations, and enable The Bahamas to compete on a global scale, broadening its attraction to the western United States, Europe and Asia.”

Heller also added, “We are confident that our expertise and vision will fully execute the Government’s objective to establish Cable Beach at the forefront of resort destinations globally. We have assembled a diverse and senior team of executives with a wealth of experience in the hotel and gaming industry to coordinate and execute the redevelopment of Cable Beach.  Our team is drawn from the senior management at some of the world’s most celebrated companies, such as Disney, Universal, Mandalay Bay, and Mirage resorts. They are the very best in the industry.”

Michael Sansbury, Baha Mar Executive Vice President, and former Vice President of Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando Resort, Florida, said,

“Our interest in this project lies in establishing a world-class mega-resort that will surpass visitor expectations.” Sansbury also expressed optimism for a smooth transition:, “While the design of the new resort elements is being completed, we will operate the three hotels at much improved standards, focusing on employee training, upgrading services, exploring linkages with Bahamian entrepreneurs and businesses, and enhancing the current properties.” 
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