By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Baha Mar's president yesterday said the $4.2 billion project was still "on target" to obtain a full certificate of occupancy (CO), with $75 million in group business now on its books.
"We have our Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) and we are just finalising some details for our CO, but it's on target," Graeme Davis told Tribune Business.
Baha Mar received its first phase Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) back in March, allowing visitors to occupy rooms and use other resort amenities, but many observers will have expected it to receive its full sign-off by now.
Tribune Business previously reported that March 21 was set as the TCO issuance deadline because Baha Mar's prospective owner, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) wanted 30 days to get its newly-hired staff "up to speed", and familiar with Baha Mar's amenities, prior to the 'soft opening' in late April
The TCO gives CTFE "full rights" to use all Baha Mar amenities included in the first phase 'soft opening', including the convention centre, casino and casino hotel, but it remains "on the hook" for any unsafe, non-Code compliant items that need to be addressed.
"It will be a situation where Building Control will say: 'We'll let you use it, but you have 60 days, 90 days to take care of what's left," a contractor familiar with the process told Tribune Business.
Once these issues are dealt with, the Ministry of Works releases any remaining authority over the project via a full Certificate of Occupancy (CO), with all permits and approvals granted to Baha Mar's.
Mr Davis's CO comments came as he and other Baha Mar executives led Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and Cabinet ministers on a tour of the resort yesterday afternoon.
"Right now we are at over 50 per cent occupancy, which is excellent, and as I have said before it's ramping quickly. We are on track with our SLS opening. The official opening we are looking at late October or first week of November," said Mr Davis.
Mr Davis told Tribune Business that around 800 of the 1,800 rooms at the Grand Hyatt are currently being rented, with the 50 per cent occupancy figure based solely on that property. Dionisio D'Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, last month pegged Baha Mar's target average occupancy for the year at 25 per cent.
"On the group market and meeting planning community, we have exceptional feedback right now," Mr Davis added. "We have been open over 60 days and we have over $75 million in definite and prospective revenue for group business.
"We are right on target for our ramping up. We are at over 2,000 associates now and growing rapidly. We will be over 4,000 by year's end. We are at 2,100 in Bahamian associates and less than 100 expatriates. The expatriates are here to make sure we deliver on some of that branded service."
Once fully operational, Baha Mar anticipates directly employing more than 7,500 Bahamians, while contributing more than $65 million in direct taxation to the Bahamas annually and over $100 million in combined direct, indirect and induced tax revenues.
The SLS's fall opening is expected to be followed by a 200-room Rosewood property in Spring 2018, when the full opening is set to occur.