Bahamas gets $1.6 bn resort boost

Baha Mar Resorts is joining Harrah’s Entertainment and Starwood to create the Caribbean’s largest destination resort.
Baha Mar will establish a new blueprint for resort development, representing the largest, single hospitality investment in the region, and creating a unique resort metropolis in terms of its setting, design, operation, and services.

A letter of intent has been signed whereby the three partners will make “cross-property” investments in Baha Mar—a 1,000-acre, mixed-use, one-of-a-kind project to be located in Nassau, Bahamas—subject to completion of definitive agreements. The venture represents a unique structure for the hospitality and gaming industries and calls for a total investment of $1.6 billion for the initial phase. The joint venture investment structure consists of 56 2/3 percent Baha Mar Resorts Ltd., 33 1/3 percent Harrah’s and 10 percent Starwood.

“The three partners in this ambitious venture share a determination to see that international guests are pleasantly overwhelmed by their experience at Baha Mar,” said Gary Loveman, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc.

“We believe this integrated resort represents an auspicious international debut for the Caesars brand, and offers some insight into the sort of high-profile gaming-entertainment projects we plan to pursue in promising global markets in coming years.”

“This is an opportunity that does not come along very often and we are thrilled to join in this venture and offer guests to the resort a full array of Starwood’s leading brands,” said Steve Heyer, Chief Executive Officer for Starwood. “This one-of-a kind project dramatically accelerates the expansion of our brands in the Caribbean.”

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“We are tremendously excited to be able to bring the most prestigious and successful companies in lodging, gaming and leisure and their respective brands to the best location in the Caribbean - Nassau, Bahamas,” said Sarkis Izmirlian, chairman and chief executive officer of Baha Mar Resorts Ltd.

“Harrah’s and Starwood will bring their powerful, industry-leading loyalty programs - Total Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest—and together, we will create a destination resort that will dramatically enhance the tourism landscape in this hemisphere.”

Resort Features

With Caribbean-inspired design elements that fuse the area’s Colonial, European and African influences with the region’s lush natural landscapes and waterscapes, Baha Mar is expected to captivate guests from the moment they arrive on property and are led to the resort’s open-air porte-cochere by an expansive water boulevard and 55-foot-high circular waterfall.

Baha Mar Resorts is also planning a free-standing luxury spa facility—the largest in the Caribbean; an eco-water park attraction with show lake for live performances and events; 175,000 square feet of meeting space; and a 20-acre beach and pool experience with 3,000 feet of continuous beachfront. Baha Mar plans also will include a 50,000 square foot village with upscale retail, chef-branded restaurants, and entertainment venues. An extensive renovation to the current 550-room Wyndham Nassau Resort is also planned, bringing the number of hotels on the property to six. A variety of residential units will also be included in the initial phase. All together, the resort will offer a total of 3,550 guest rooms, making it the largest in the Caribbean.

Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s largest provider of branded casino entertainment, will operate a new 1,000-room Caesars Resort Hotel and 95,000-square foot casino. This development—the largest in the Caribbean—will be the first Caesars project announced since Caesars Entertainment was acquired by Harrah’s in June 2005.

Baha Mar will feature the first and only collection of four Starwood brands at a single resort. This will consist of a 300-room W at Baha Mar, including 100 condo units; a 300-room St. Regis at Baha Mar, including 100 condo units, a 700-room Westin at Baha Mar; and a 700-room Sheraton at Baha Mar all of which will be managed by Starwood. In addition to the hotels, Starwood’s Bliss and Remede branded luxury spas are also planned at the W and St. Regis, respectively.

Together, Baha Mar Resorts and its partners will build, manage and own the mixed-use destination resort’s hotels and casino. Harrah’s and Starwood will operate their respective branded properties, while Baha Mar Resorts will operate cross-property services to assure a seamless guest experience.

Construction will begin in 2007, with the opening set for 2010. Future phases of Baha Mar will include additional hotels, a variety of residential offerings, and a second 18-hole golf course. An agreement with Nicklaus Design to develop an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course as part of Phase 1 was previously announced. The Baha Mar Nicklaus Signature Course would be the only championship-quality course in Nassau.

Baha Mar Resorts will serve as the developer for the resort, with Los Angeles-based MHA Studio, Inc. established as the project’s design architect. Mike Hong, founding principal of MHA Studio and Design Principal for the Baha Mar project has designed such pioneering projects as the world-renowned Bellagio resort in Las Vegas; Wynn Las Vegas; and the Gateway in Salt Lake City, a 3.2-million-square-foot retail-business district built for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Baha Mar represents a quantum leap forward in the continued success of The Bahamas, ushering in a new era for Nassau’s Cable Beach area of New Providence Island. The Islands of The Bahamas are experiencing tremendous popularity and a surge in visitors, cruise passengers and air travelers, with more than one-third of the U.S. tourist market enjoying direct access to Nassau.

“The partnership marks a significant occasion for The Islands Of The Bahamas,” stated Obie Wilchcombe, Bahamas Minister of Tourism.

“The planned revitalization of the Cable Beach area and development of Baha Mar will only further establish The Bahamas as the premier island destination for vacationers and business travelers alike.”
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