By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Baha Mar’s new owner yesterday said it had finalised an agreement for Grand Hyatt to manage 1,800 rooms at two of its hotels, adding that its acquisition of the project was “not a one-shot opportunity”.
Graeme Davis, president of Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) Bahamian subsidiary, told the 26th annual Bahamas Business Outlook conference that Baha Mar fits perfectly with its strategic development plans.
He added that last week CTFE finalised a deal with Hyatt Hotels and Resorts for the Grand Hyatt to brand and operate both Baha Mar’s casino and convention hotels.
“We are pleased to say that we have definitive agreements executed. Grand Hyatt will be overseeing both the casino hotel as well as the convention hotel. This will be the flagship Hyatt in all of the Americas with 1,800 rooms,” said Mr Davis.
He confirmed that Rosewood, which is owned by CTFE, and SLS Lux remained as Baha Mar’s other two operator brands, with their properties expected to open in December 2017.
CTFE was revealed as the purchaser of the stalled $3.5 billion mega resort late last year. The multi-billion dollar Hong Kong-based conglomerate has interests in property development, hotels, casinos, transportation, jewellery retail, ports and telecommunications.
Mr Davis yesterday again slammed efforts to link CTFE to Chinese organised crime gangs, the Triads, through its principals’ investment in Stanley Ho’s Macau gaming concerns.
Emphasising that CTFE and its subsidiaries had no operational involvement with Mr Ho’s interests, Mr Davis said of the claims: “I must say that it is baseless and unfounded.
“We strongly believe that this integrated resort project fits perfectly with our strategic growth future. This is not a one-shot opportunity for us. We have an incredible depth, experience and resources in large scale projects globally.”
Baha Mar kicked-off its recruitment drive last Monday as it seeks to fill some 1,500 positions ahead of its ‘soft opening’ on April 21.
Baha Mar is looking to initially fill positions at the golf course, the casino and casino hotel, and convention centre ahead of its scheduled partial opening. As many as 5,000 jobs are expected to be created once the resort is fully opened. CTFE has said it is dedicated to the success and timely opening of Baha Mar, and is “very optimistic” that the April 21 opening date will be hit.
Under its original developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar was first slated to open in December, 2014. After repeated missed deadlines, Mr Izmirlian filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States in June 2015.
The Government vigorously opposed this process, saying it threatened the Bahamas’ sovereignty, and instead petitioned the Supreme Court to place Baha Mar into provisional liquidation.
Baha Mar’s bankruptcy cases for its Bahamian entities were later thrown out of the US court. More than 2,000 Baha Mar employees were made redundant in October 2015.