Prime Minister Perry Christie and Dona Bertarelli, developer of the $200m project.
Photo: Shawn Hanna
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government signed heads of agreement yesterday with billionaire Swiss businesswoman Dona Bertarelli for the development of a $200m project on Children’s Bay Cay and Williams Cay, Exuma.
The project, Prime Minister Perry Christie said, could create about 250 jobs during its construction phase and between 350 and 450 jobs during its operational phase.
The resort’s opening is scheduled for late 2019, with a groundbreaking ceremony set for later this year.
The development promises to include a five-star resort and golf club, a boutique 50 pavilion-room hotel, five over-the-water pavilions, five estate homes, a clubhouse comprising a restaurant, boutique library, screening room and bar and lunches.
“Williams Cay will be a private section of the resort and will contain an ecological oriented 18-hole golf course designed by Tom Fazio,” Mr Christie said.
“For the benefit of both Exumians and the resort, the developer will construct and fully outfit a medical clinic, police station and a fire station at Barratarre, which will be transferred to government and staffed and maintained by the relevant agencies.
“Also planned for development on acquired private land at Barratarre is the project’s back-of-house facility, a solar farm, support services and a residential subdivision for resort employees.”
Of Ms Bertarelli, Mr Christie said: “In addition to her philanthropic activities in marine conservation, life sciences and children’s education, Ms Bertarelli sits on the board of several companies and is actively involved in managing the family’s business interests, which includes the five-star Grand Hotel Park in Gstaad that was honoured as 2013 Best Hotel in Switzerland by Premium Switzerland and rated in the 2012 Robb Report’s World Best Resorts list.”
The Christie Administration has been criticised in the past for signing heads of agreements before developers begin the process of obtaining necessary approvals and permits. Critics have expressed concerns about the environmental impact of developments and a lack of consultation with residents before such agreements are signed.
Perhaps aware of this, Mr Christie addressed the impact the development could have on the area at some length, and considerable effort was made by those involved in the signing to emphasise the efforts the developer will take to protect the environment.
This includes creating a Marine Protected Area “wherever potential exists” and employing the best practices in golf course design. It involves using solar power where appropriate.
“As will all project developments,” Mr Christie said, “the findings of environmental impact assessment study and the accompanying management plan will be strictly adhered to and closely monitored through joint efforts of the developer and the government.”
As for resident consultations, Mr Christie said this is “ongoing”, and will involve “direct community involvement” that seeks to be transparent while addressing the concerns of residents.