By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Perry Christie gave his most specific comments yet about when Baha Mar will open, revealing during a Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) event on Friday that the troubled mega resort will begin its phased opening in the second quarter of 2017.
"(Chow Tai Fook Enterprises) is arranging for operation by the Grand Hyatt of the Casino and Convention hotels and of other properties by SLS and Rosewood, all internationally renowned brands, beginning with a phased opening in the second quarter of 2017," he said.
"These operations will almost immediately begin to have a positive economic impact."
Mr Christie also said 1,500 employees will be hired "imminently" in the new year.
"This is to facilitate the phased opening of 1,800 rooms at the conference and casino hotel, the casino, convention centre and golf course, and employment of up to 3,300 by August, 2017, and 4,300 by December, 2017, when all components have been completed and opened."
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) will invest $200 million in "pre-opening festivities, development of family amenities, entertainment and offshore island facilities and demolition and re-development of the former Crystal Palace Hotel," Mr Christie said the gathering of hotel and tourism personnel. "With these additional investments completed, the project will have created 5,700 new direct jobs and an additional 4,160 indirect and inducted jobs."
Mr Christie said Baha Mar's contractor already has over 500 people working on site, overseeing standards and constructing a timeline for the resort's completion.
"This will ensure on-time competition of those properties that are slated to open in April, 2017, and by December, 2017," he said.
Mr Christie mentioned other developments in the pipeline, including some slated for Grand Bahama.
"The competition and opening of the Baha Mar mega resort will be complemented by the opening of the 250-room, all-inclusive Warwick Hotel on Paradise Island and the phased construction at The Pointe of a 100-unit condominium complex slated for competition September, 2018, and a branded, 150-room hotel which will open November, 2018.
"The 900-space garage at The Pointe is also undergoing a phased opening with current access given to annual pass holders and tenants and public access to the garage following shortly thereafter.
"These are all developments which are expected to have immediate and significant impact on commercial activity, employment and government revenues in New Providence and indirect impacts on the rest of the country."
A high-ranking government delegation left for China on Thursday to meet with prospective Baha Mar buyer CTFE and tour its casino operations.
The delegation includes Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson; Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe; Sir Baltron Bethel, senior advisor to the Prime Minister; and four officials from the Gaming Board.