By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE opening of a new Bahamian-owned boutique hotel will likely inject several million dollars annually into the Bahamian economy, Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday.
Mr Christie said the official opening of The Island House, a $40m, 30-room hotel owned by the Holowesko family, will provide a stimulus to the public treasury in the form of “direct wages, customs duty imports, Value Added Tax (VAT), and hotel taxes.”
Mr Christie also said with the opening of the Island House, New Providence is poised to boast an inventory of almost 11,000 hotel rooms by the end of the year.
At the official opening yesterday, Mr Christie applauded the Holowesko family for taking a decision to “invest in their homeland and to seek ownership in an industry traditionally dominated by international investors who have long capitalised on its benefits.”
“I also applaud the Holowesko family for showcasing our Bahamian culture by infusing local community patronage, the exhibit of local art and cultural interchange into their business model of the operation,” Mr Christie said. “This overlay of our way of life within activities and ambience of the Island House will bring genuine greet-and-meet charm and cultural focus to the extreme western tip of the island, and act as a local counter-point to the international flair of the larger hotel properties like Atlantis.”
According to Mr Christie, the new hotel, which sits on 10 acres of land, features six rental apartments, a lap pool, a first class gym, Bamford spa, squash courts, a yoga movement studio, coffee bar, an 80-seat meeting room and a 48-seat theatre.
There are also two restaurants on the property, Shima, which features Southeast Asian cuisine and the family-owned Mahogany House restaurant.
There are 128 employees currently at The Island House, Mr Christie said. Of those, only three are on work permits.
“So I again applaud them for believing in the capacity of Bahamians to manage their business while bringing a uniquely Bahamian experience to every facet of the organisation,” Mr Christie said. “After all, this is what people travel here for. Our beaches, our food, our friendliness, and our unique format and delivery of the Bahamian cultural experience.”
Island House Principal Mark Holowesko said the “success of Mahogany House and the introduction of The Island House demonstrates why we need to help promote small businesses and works in this country”.
“As Bahamians, we need a full complement of products, we need Bahamian products, and an understanding that small businesses worldwide are the foundation for sustainable growth and employment,” he said. “We offer, we hope, a world class product because we have world class people. And anyone who doesn’t think that we as Bahamians cannot compete on a global scale with the very best is just plain wrong. The people who work here have and will show this to be true.”
Yesterday’s official opening makes the Holoweskos the owners of two resort properties in the country, the other being the 23-room, all-Bahamian owned and operated Highbourne Cay Plantations on a private island in the Exuma Cays, according to Mr Christie.
According to Mr Christie, The Island House was recently featured in the Boston Globe daily newspaper at “virtually no cost to the operation”.
Mr Holowesko said that in the last issue of Travel + Leisure magazine, Mahogany House was listed as a top restaurant in the entire Bahamas.