Grace Bay Club is looking at a success story due to the entrepreneurial acumen of a young, dynamic team made up by Miami Beach-based Mark Durliat, Denver’s John Fair and Nikheel Advani.In just five years since purchasing the property in 2001, under the stewardship of Managing Partner Mark Durliat, this team has converted a $14-million asset to a $140-million thriving resort property of the highest caliber, achieving real estate sales prices nearly double those of competitors and setting record prices for the region.
The extraordinary success of this unbranded property, now uniquely positioned as a clear leader among the giant global brands competing in Turks & Caicos, is a David-and-Goliath epic that underscores the power of innovative entrepreneurship.
Milestones of Success
Progress has been swift at Grace Bay Club, with the following key milestones defining the project:
—In 2001, Mark Durliat spearheads negotiations for the acquisition of Grace Bay Club, valued then at US$14million. Durliat and John Fair’s creative approach shapes a spectacular remodeling of this five-star resort and its on-site spa, setting new standards of excellence in Turks & Caicos and introducing unprecedented levels of luxury, comfort and service to Providenciales. Durliat and Fair’s companies now manage the Grace Bay Club resort, purchase an additional four acres adjacent to the property, and create a program for expansion with a new, separate section offering family-friendly condo-hotel units (The Villas), which will be managed by Grace Bay Club.
—In 2003, the company sells over $36 million of condominium real estate at The Villas at Grace Bay Club, surpassing all records on this flourishing island in terms of average sales price per unit (at US$1,250,000 per unit), sales price per square foot, and sales absorption pace.
—In July of 2004, Durliat negotiates the acquisition of an additional five acres of prime beachfront land adjacent to Grace Bay Club, the planned location of The ESTATE, a super-luxury development of 22 customized residential units, also to be managed by Grace Bay Club.
—In September of 2004, celebrated hotelier Nikheel Advani joins Grace Bay Club as its general manager and primary leader in the resort’s expansion. Advani brings 15 years of hospitality experience, and an impressive history of both opening and operating five-star hotels. Advani opened six Ritz-Carlton hotels over a seven-year period in the U.S. and internationally, and served two years as hotel manager of Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
—In June of 2005, Advani spearheads the launch of the Hotel School at Grace Bay Club, the first of its kind in Turks & Caicos, designed to train hospitality staff for stellar productivity, and to introduce an extraordinary new level of service to the region.
—In December of 2005, The Villas opens, offering 38 units with superbly designed facilities and great family appeal, including an on-the-beach swimming pool with bar and restaurant, the Anani Spa and Fitness Center, and the eco-focused Kid’s Town activity program for children.
—Refurbishment of the 21 suites at the adults-only Hotel begins in April, 2006.
—Opening in 2008, The ESTATE will offer the most luxurious residential condominiums on the island, each measuring over 4,600 square feet and priced from $3.2 to over $6.0 million (the cost of a penthouse unit). By combining extraordinary quality, the development acumen of Durliat/Fair and the award-winning personalized service provided by Nikheel Advani and his hotel team, The ESTATE is now successfully competing on a residential level with the branded heavyweights in the region, such as St. Regis in Anguilla, Four Seasons in the Bahamas, One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island, and Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. The ESTATE offers purchasers of units an innovatively designed rental program managed by Grace Bay Club, allowing owners to earn income from their properties when not in residence.
Entrepreneurial Team with Management Expertise
With a clear focus on creating value for shareholders and partners, Mark Durliat developed a strategy built on relationship sales, both in the residential field and in the hospitality operations of the resort. He set out to attract seasoned, corporate-trained hospitality stars who share a similar entrepreneurial spirit by looking within the brand giants to find key talent for his independent property, with the objective of making it the best in the region. In 2004, he appointed Nikheel Advani as general manager, an internationally respected hotelier known for the impeccable service level he maintained at Raffles and Ritz-Carlton. Advani quickly focused his attention on luring in other top-notch hospitality leaders from prominent companies like Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Raffles.
Together, Durliat, Advani and Fair have created a product that has surpassed the expectations of the most discerning travelers from all continents. This dynamic trio has raised the bar on quality for the Turks & Caicos Islands, going head-to-head with giant corporate brands by excelling in style and sophistication, and with a determined focus on the personalization of each guest’s visit.
To date, the total project value amounts to US$140 million, with The Villas exceeding $45 million, The ESTATE at $75 million, and $20 million in the original Hotel. All 38 of The Villas have sold, with 10 re-sales already at significant profits; an impressive 17 out of 22 ESTATE units have already sold at prices averaging $3.1 million; and Grace Bay Club room rates continue to be among the highest in the Caribbean region. With a young team of quiet movers and shakers, the Durliat-Fair-Advani partnership has built a powerhouse of strategically directed energy that will inspire entrepreneurs everywhere.
“Our strength has been in attracting the best possible talent and creating a hospitality culture within a development team that itself has tremendous experience and depth,” Durliat observes. “John Fair and I knew early on that together we had what it takes to establish a remarkable resort real estate product; Nikheel brought the operational and hospitality pedigree and expertise that have completed our team. We are small and agile, but we have the depth of all the huge hotel companies, which we believe gives us an edge. The Grace Bay Club brand has become synonymous with high-end Caribbean travel, and is now matching—or even beating—rates of the industry giants.”
—Real Estate Wizard - Mark Durliat
A high-profile career in real estate has equipped Durliat well for leadership in the hospitality industry, with more than 14 years of experience in development and management of hotels, condominium hotels, golf resorts and condominiums. He has developed real estate in multiple international destinations, including France, Belgium and South Africa.
At the age of 27 Durliat founded and operated a boutique development company in Cape Town after an introduction to South Africa by the legendary golfer Gary Player, with whom he had previously worked for several years. Between 1995 and 1999, Durliat’s best-known success was the 126-room Cape Suites Hotel, a condominium hotel development project involving the sale of all condominium units under a structured management program and the securing of an international hotel management brand. This property became one of the best performing business hotels in the destination, earning Durliat respect as an authority in the city’s burgeoning condo-hotel industry.
He additionally developed multiple luxury condominium projects and intimate guest houses in South Africa, and spearheaded several feasibility studies for golf course and residential projects involving Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Prior work included a collaboration with Player in the development of a $30-million golf, hotel and residential project in Belgium, for which Durliat managed all sales and marketing to neighboring European countries plus development of the golf course and residential subdivision.
Durliat was personally appointed to the Turks & Caicos Tourist Board in 2005 by the Chief Minister, and actively works to build and promote the tourism product for the region.
—Development Mastermind - John Fair
John Fair is the power behind Fair Enterprises, a Denver, Colorado-based real estate development firm with an exceptional 20-year track record and a portfolio of over $300 million in high-end resort, residential, commercial and industrial property under management or development in Colorado, Mexico, Utah, Arizona and the Caribbean region.
The focus over recent years has been on building the resort segment of the portfolio. In February 2002, the company completed one of the most exclusive and luxurious resort projects in Mexico, Esperanza - An Auberge Resort, located in Cabo San Lucas. Esperanza is under the management of the five-star boutique firm Auberge Resorts from Napa Valley, California, known for its exceptional collection of small luxury hotels, including Auberge du Soleil and San Ysidro Ranch.
John continues his development success in Mexico, with the launch in 2004 of Paraiso del Mar, a $1-billion, master-planned residential, golf and resort property of 1,700 acres, which will include more than 1,000 condominiums, 500 golf villas, two golf courses designed by Arthur Hills and a boutique hotel. Surpassing all expectations of this pioneering project, John and his team have sold over 450 residential units in less than 22 months, and construction is slated to commence shortly.
—Hospitality Genius - Nikheel Advani
Born in Nigeria, raised in Singapore and educated in the U.S., Nikheel Advani has worked in more than 10 cities on three continents. His rich cultural background and high-profile work experience make him a true “renaissance man” in the global hospitality industry.
Prior to joining Grace Bay Club, Advani served two years as hotel manager at the illustrious Raffles Hotel in Singapore, following seven years with Ritz-Carlton that included appointments in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Osaka, plus U.S.-based positions in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Sarasota, and New York. Known for his hands-on approach, Advani rose quickly through the ranks, learning the luxury hotel business at every level.
Early years in Singapore introduced Advani to the protocol and finer points of hospitality when he helped orchestrate private parties in the opulent homes of high-profile embassy officials. Now, a personal invitation to his own home affords a private glimpse into the evolution of hospitality at its very best, revealing that Advani is the consummate host, chef and wine connoisseur. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with an honors degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration, he also successfully completed the General Manager Program at Harvard Business School. A true polyglot, Nikheel Advani is fluent in English and Mandarin and proficient in French and Hindi.