Above: construction at Baha Mar in the Bahamas (All photos by CJ)
By Alexander Britell
NASSAU —The Baha Mar resort project, the largest in the Caribbean, is moving forward with construction toward a planned December 2014 completion date.
The multi-billion-dollar Baha Mar, which is being financed by the Export-Import Bank of China, is currently being built by a several-thousand-strong force of workers from China. It launched construction in 2011.
“We see ourselves as positioning it as an international brand – so we’re not just looking at Caribbean competition, but offering it as the best on an international basis,” Robert Sands, senior vice president for external affairs at Baha Mar, told Caribbean Journal.
The project, which has dubbed itself the “Bahamian Riviera,” will ultimately offer around 2,200 hotel and residential units spread across four resorts; one, the Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, along with three from major international brands Mondrian, Grand Hyatt and Rosewood.
Above: construction is plowing ahead; it first launched in 2011
The largest will be the Baha Mar Casino Hotel, which will feature 1,000 rooms and 100,000 square feet of gaming space, followed by Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar, with 700 room and a large-scale conference centre.
It will also offer a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, which is scheduled for completion in late 2013.
The residential component of the resort will include 307 units spread across the property’s different branded resorts.
Above: a rendering of the resort
“Certainly, the Bahamas is already a high-perception, well-traveled-to destination already — but the second transforming project such as Baha Mar will further propel the Bahamas as a leader in tourism, certainly in the Bahamas, but also in the Western Hemisphere,” Sands said.
He was of course referring to the Atlantis resort, the flagship of Bahamian tourism, and the country’s single-largest private employer.
While one might see the two resorts, one on Cable Beach, the other on Paradise Island, as potential competitors, Baha Mar Chief Marketing Officer Denise Godreau said the two would fill largely separate niches.
“We’re positioning Baha Mar as the next must-go place for the adults, the sophisticated traveler,” she told Caribbean Journal. “Atlantis has mainly focused on the family market, so we really believe in the adult segment.”
Either way, the project is likely to have a significant impact on the Bahamian economy, with the developers anticipating a range of auxiliary development along what will be a revamped strip of the Cable Beach area in New Providence.
And the developers say Baha Mar will create 8,000 permanent jobs in the Bahamas.
“Just think about two successful, iconic resort destinations,” Sands said. “We believe that we will have a similar impact [to Atlantis] — added on top of the Atlantis experience, and going together, I think it will be a win-win situation, not only for the country, but for the two resorts.”
That could come from drawing upon new markets, like Latin America and Asia (and, to a lesser extent, Europe) which would represent a departure from the Bahamas’ traditional source markets of the US, UK and Canada.
“We think that [the Bahamas] has lost some of the European traveler,” Godreau said. “We believe that we can attract Europe, Latin America, and obviously, because of our relationship with [China State Construction Engineering] and the Export-Import Bank of China, we believe we can attract some of the Asian traveler.”