By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A senior Baha Mar executive said yesterday the mega resort is running at 50 per cent occupancy with more than 2,000 Bahamians being currently employed.
Robert Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice president of government and external affairs said the SLS Lux remains on track for its opening during the first week of November, with the Rosewood to follow in the first quarter of 2018.
“Group bookings continue to get interest and expand as we look forward and our occupancy continues to grow. We are encouraged by business levels today. Employment is over now at 2,000 Bahamians. Hopefully we’ll get to the 5,500 figure by full opening next year. Our occupancy is still round 40-50 per cent remains steady,” said Mr Sands.
“We just recently opened the current art exhibit which is an area we are showcasing artists and exhibits. We’re quite happy about John Cox the curator. We have a space where we will showcase on an ongoing basis over 8,500 pieces of art so we’re very happy about that,” Mr Sands added.
Baha Mar is expected to generate more than $65 million in direct taxation to the Bahamas annually and over $100 million in combined direct, indirect and induced tax revenues
Under its original developer Sarkis Izmirlian, the $4.2 billion project was scheduled to open in December 2014. After construction completion deadlines were missed, Mr Izmirlian filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US in June 2015. The former government vigorously opposed this process, saying it threatened the Bahamas’ sovereignty, and instead petitioned the Supreme Court to place Baha Mar into liquidation. Mr Izmirlian ultimately lost control of the mega resort after being defeated in the US and Bahamian courts, and Chow Tai Took Enterprises (CTFE), the conglomerate formed by the late billionaire, Cheng Yu Tung, was revealed as the new owner last year. CTFE is pushing for a full opening by April 2018.
Baha Mar also includes a 300-room SLS resort, a 200-room Rosewood Baha Mar property, and the 694-room Melia Nassau Beach, which has been open for three years and operates as an adults-only, all-inclusive.