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Baha Mar Likely Below Full Open

UPDATE: ROBERT Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice president of government and external affairs, has confirmed today that the Baha Mar Casino and Hotel, casino, resort core amenities, entertainment and recreation areas (Beach Sanctuary and TPC golf course) will be open on March 27. He said that public spaces at the mega resort’s three other hotels - SLS LUX, Rosewood and Grand Hyatt – would also be open on March 27 and that the hotel rooms would “come online shortly after”. Mr Sands told The Tribune that Baha Mar was “on track to have all additional areas open by our grand opening celebration in May”.

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The $3.5 billion Baha Mar project’s planned launch next Friday is likely to be much less than a full opening, Tribune Business understands, with none of the three branded resort properties ready to unlock their doors.

Persistent inquiries by Tribune Business this week suggest that only the Baha Mar-branded casino hotel will open come March 27, and it is unlikely the full complement of 1,000 rooms will be ready.

Baha Mar spokesmen have failed to provide definitive answers on exactly which components of their mega project will be open and ready, as its equity partner and contractor, China State Construction, rushes to meet the finishing deadline.

This newspaper’s inquiries suggest that the March 27 opening is likely to be less than spectacular, and far short of a full launch.

Tribune Business’s interest was piqued after it received a call from an international travel writer, who informed it that the press office for SLS Hotels - one of Baha Mar’s three resort brands - had told him that their Bahamian property would only be ready for a soft launch come April 28, 2015.

This date is supported by SLS’s own booking web site, which shows no room availability until April 29, and then only for a five-day span until early May.

The travel writer told Tribune Business that SLS’s press office had informed him their Baha Mar property would only fully open in June - between June 1-7.

While Baha Mar had previously confirmed the Grand Hyatt would only open on May 1, the travel writer told Tribune Business that the third resort brand - Rosewood - had been unable to provide him with opening dates for their hotel.

This prompted Tribune Business to contact Robert Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice-president of government and external affairs, who responded that he was unaware of this information but would check into it.

“Our core amenities, entertainment and recreation areas will all be open on March 27,” Mr Sands then told Tribune Business, when it made a follow-up call.

When asked exactly what would be included in these components, he replied: “The casino, convention centre, beach pools, some of the retail stores, the Baha Mar Hotel and Casino.”

Mr Sands than asked Tribune Business to give him ‘48 hours’ to provide this newspaper with a formal reply, which it agreed to.

In the meantime, this newspaper attempted to verify the travel writer’s information with the three resort brands, contacting them by both phone and e-mail.

However, all Tribune Business’s e-mailed inquiries were routed by the hotel brands back to Baha Mar, suggesting that the $3.5 billion developer is determined to ‘control the PR’ surrounding its March 27 opening, and that it had ‘silenced’ its brand partners.

Faced with this silence, Tribune Business called Mr Sands on Wednesday evening at around the time the 48 hours were up.

He, though, said he was unable to speak as he was just walking into the Prime Minister’s Office for a meeting with Mr Christie.

Tribune Business then called him back yesterday, only for Mr Sands to say he was on the phone with the Prime Minister. Contacted later, Mr Sands said he was “intelligence gathering” and hoped to speak formally to this newspaper last night. However, this did not happen.

All this suggests that Baha Mar was busy briefing the Government and the Prime Minister on its construction process, what will be ready by March 27, and the nature of the ‘opening activities’.

The Government’s intense interest is understandable, given how important the $3.5 billion development is to the Bahamian economy’s revival and projected growth rates, plus the dent in the unemployment rate that will be produced via the creation of 5,000 permanent jobs.

However, well-placed sources, speaking to Tribune Business on condition of anonymity, suggested that March 27 will feature just a simple ribbon-cutting ceremony involving Baha Mar and its partners; the Chinese; a blessing of the property by Archbishop Patrick Pinder; and a “photo opportunity” for the media.

Tribune Business’s contacts, though, said the Baha Mar property was looking increasingly impressive, with signs of visible construction progress every day, and more scaffolding coming down.

And some observers suggested it was unfair to get ‘hung up’ on the March 27 date, given the positive economic impact that the resort is projected to deliver for the entire Bahamas.

More important, they said, is that it ultimately delivers on the GDP impact and employment projections, and only fully opens when everything is 100 per cent ready,

One source, detailing what they had been told by Baha Mar in terms of the March 27 opening, told Tribune Business: “Some rooms, most of the restaurants and some of the shops, though not the high-end retail as they will not be ready.

“They say it will be 1,000 rooms, but it’s not going to be. Three months later the whole place will look a lot more decent. It’s going to be a while, and it’s going to take a while.”

One source suggested that Baha Mar may have been ‘boxed in’ in terms of the March 27 opening, and having to stick to it, by a combination of its resort brand partners and desire to avoid a repeat of last year’s court dispute with the Mondrian operator, Morgans Hotel Group Management.

Baha Mar is likely to have been determined to fulfil its obligations to the resort, given that Morgans alleged it had failed to meet several essential conditions in their hotel management agreement.

These agreements specify opening dates, and Morgans had alleged at the time that it had urged Baha Mar to move the opening back five months - from December 1, 2014, to April 1 this year.

Baha Mar also previously said that its major opening celebration would be held in late Spring, implying a date some time in April.

Comments

John 3 years, 8 months ago

The traffic chaos in Cable Beach have already started. Apparently the service entrance for Bah Mar is by the round about by the Melia hotel. There is a backup into the round about as cars try to get into this entrance. Then there is a bus stop and overflow parking across the highway by Scotia bank. This creates a situation similar to the one at COB where persons are constantly crossing the road and bringing traffic to a standstill. So traffic that normally flows freely is backed up on both sides. What's even worse is that there is a pedestrian crossing just as you are exiting the round about. With the congestion there have been several accidents where motorists try to stop for pedestrians on the crossing and they are rear ended by cars coming out the round about.

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Sickened 3 years, 8 months ago

The Government needs to start looking into overhead walkways in many areas of the island. This will not only help reduce motor accidents it will also help with the safety of pedestrians.

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Publius 3 years, 8 months ago

This thing is going to turn into a huge embarrassment; you can already tell. Why not wait until you are able to provide the full experience in at least one of the hotels before opening to the public? "Core amenities" basically means food, water and the toilets. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression. With Atlantis being the country's flagship resort, why open this hotel just for opening sake, if it is not going to be ready to blow the minds of the visitors? For politics? That's why this rushed opening is happening? So that the government can have something to brag about now that it is in campaigning mode?

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Sickened 3 years, 8 months ago

I agree. They really should delay the opening until the actual construction zones (front and back) are finished. They still have months to go.

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TruthHurts 3 years, 8 months ago

"...why open this hotel just for opening sake, if it is not going to be ready to blow the minds of the visitors? For politics? That's why this rushed opening is happening? So that the government can have something to brag about now that it is in campaigning mode?"

Agreed! It's disheartening to know they are running into these issues so early in the game. When this Baha Mar project came online.. I was thinking, another Albany! I didn't have much hope for it meeting the grand expectations constantly publicized about by politicians and newspapers alike. Or, it would come out the gate blazing with all the sparkles and party favors and slowly but surely, not too far into the distant future, fall short. For me, something just isn't right about the fate of this enterprise. I hope for the 5k jobs being gained by Bahamians that it will in fact succeed far beyond what we all would have imagined. But something just tells me this has disaster written all over it. Time will tell.

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Cornel 3 years, 8 months ago

Don't worry about the situation. In one or two years is will be closed and everything will be back to normal

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 8 months ago

would also be open on March 27 and that the hotel rooms would “come online shortly after” I'm confused as to what exactly will be open.. Will they have actual guests or or will they only have people signed up as "testers"... The statement is confusing

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 8 months ago

He, though, said he was unable to speak as he was just walking into the Prime Minister’s Office for a meeting with Mr Christie. Tribune Business then called him back yesterday, only for Mr Sands to say he was on the phone with the Prime Minister. Contacted later, Mr Sands said he was “intelligence gathering” and hoped to speak formally to this newspaper last night. However, this did not happen. All this suggests that Baha Mar was busy briefing the Government and the Prime Minister on its construction process, what will be ready by March 27, and the nature of the ‘opening activities’.

So when the PM has a stake invested in the outcome of a particular investment he demands meetings with the implementation team to get first hand updates. BUT he and ?Brave Davis would have us believe they just handed over 50 million to somebody at BAMSI and weren't intimately aware of EVERYTHING that was going on? I don't buy it, they have cookie crumbs all over their faces.

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John 3 years, 8 months ago

Well I don wish for it to fail. Maybe they have enough clientele to open the casino. There are guests at the Melia Sandals and Breezes. Then there are several thousand Chinese still working on the project and a few hundred Fillipinos, the Bahamian workers on the site cannot gamble in the casino. They have to take their money to Flowers or Sebas

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Stapedius 3 years, 8 months ago

What an idiot that guy is. Why even mention you're going in the pm's office. Just carry your a@#. This is what you get when inexperienced people are running the show. Money and experience are two different things. Say what you will about Sol, but he had a vision and the experience to bring Atlantis to completion. This joker on Cable Beach has no resort experience and simply does not have the right team it would appear. Problem after problem since the beginning. The website looks amateurish and cheap and you can't get the doors opened. This is exactly why we should never allow for the sale of certain pieces of land. People may lease, but the outright sale of prime real estate in the country is rubbish. We all would hope for the project's success. But, we are getting jerked around here.

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duppyVAT 3 years, 8 months ago

Is Sandy Sands running Bahamar for the Izmirilians and the Chinese financiers?????? If that is the case, they will be up shit creek with Perry goons ............ and what will happen with the Chinese construction company and its 8000 workers?????????

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duppyVAT 3 years, 8 months ago

No General ............... tourism is not failing if you do not DEPEND on it ..... it can be a great complementary industry ............. check New York, Las Vegas, London, Orlando, Paris etc ................. but our Bahamian economic structure is tenuous as it is a monoculture ............ just like the plantation. And our people have come to take it for granted ............ dangerous mentality

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