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‘Unacceptable’ That Baha Mar Closed Doors To Guests In Storm

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Atlantis president and managing director Howard Karawan.

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

PRESIDENT and managing director of the Atlantis resort Howard Karawan has said it is “unacceptable” and “surprising” that Baha Mar would close its doors to “customers and the community” during the passage of a major category four hurricane.

In an interview with The Tribune on the weekend, Mr Karawan said the only reason a hotel should close because of a hurricane is if “the hotel was not built up to standard.”

He said when you operate a major hotel on an island you have a “moral obligation” to provide shelter to guests and to support the community.

In preparation for Hurricane Irma that was projected to hit the capital as a category four storm, Baha Mar’s guests were told to seek alternative “local shelter” if they were unable to leave The Bahamas, as the resort was temporarily closing its doors until after the passage of Irma.

On Thursday, Robert Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice-president of government and external affairs, told Tribune Business the hotel had already arranged the early departure of “almost 100 per cent” of guests ahead of the super storm’s potential strike.

New Providence was spared the brunt of Hurricane Irma that caused catastrophic damage in several Caribbean islands, killing at least 27 people and leaving thousands homeless.

However, the storm brought significant damage to Ragged Island in the southern Bahamas, as well as Grand Bahama in the north.

Mr Sands confirmed that Baha Mar was “suspending services” at “end of business” on Thursday because of Irma’s strength and size, describing the storm as an unprecedented event that had never been witnessed before in The Bahamas.

“As an island resort, we see it as our moral responsibility to shelter our guests and be there to support the community as best we can, not to close our doors on them,” Mr Karawan told The Tribune.

“We were prepared to keep our guests safe during the storm’s passage and the hotel was fully operational. I do not believe you should ever close your doors, you have to support the community and we will help whenever we can. I don’t know why a newly built hotel would close. The only time a hotel would close is if it was not built up to standards or the building was not made to sustain potentially bad weather.

“It is unacceptable and surprising to hear that the hotel closed its doors to customers and to the community during a storm,” he told The Tribune when asked about Baha Mar’s closure.

Mr Karawan said the Atlantis resort housed nearly 1,200 guests and 100 employees during the hurricane. He also said there is no damage to any of the resort’s hotels.

On Sunday, Graeme Davis, president of Baha Mar said he is thankful to report all Baha Mar guests were safely evacuated off the island and Baha Mar sustained no damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.

“Our team did an exceptional job of preparing Baha Mar for the storm,” Mr Davis said in a statement. “I am personally grateful for their tremendous efforts in executing our emergency response plan, and in ensuring the safety of our guests and associates.

“Now, with the passage of the storm through the Caribbean, we are ready to resume full hotel, casino and retail operations and look forward to welcoming guests back to Baha Mar on Tuesday, September 12. The island of New Providence was spared during this storm, but we know that some of our Family Islands were less fortunate. We are working with government authorities as well as local aid organisations to provide financial and other assistance to support those communities in need and to aid our community here in New Providence.”

Last year, thousands of guests at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island were evacuated from their hotel rooms in preparation for the impact of Hurricane Matthew.

The 2,100 visitors and residents, who were evacuated from the Coral Towers, Beach Towers, Harborside, Ocean Club and The Cove, spent nearly two days in the Imperial Ballroom, which had been sectioned off into dozens of sleeping quarters.

At the time, executives at the hotel said the move was just a precaution to ensure that people were safe during the category three storm.

Guests were provided with pillows, blankets and sleeping mats as well as a complimentary meal and water last year. Guests were also not charged for the two days of Matthew’s passage and all meals on those days were also free of charge.

Comments

TalRussell 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrades! Stop everything. This is Breaking News!!!
Ragged Island's 21 residents who stayed behind to stuck out Hurricane Irma - trusted their island's structures - more than the people at Baha Mar trusted theirs! { You just can't make this stuff up }. Recommendation. Maybe the ministry of works should have sign-off on a ' Fit for Re Occupancy Certificate" out at Cable Beach? Think that 'dock' weathered the hurricane?

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SP 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Baha Mar's Graeme Davis and their lap poodle Robert "Sandy" Sands are good examples of the kind of useless corporate entities Pillage Loot Plunder cut hidden deals with to the detriment of the Bahamian people!

Crooked businessmen, shady political leaders, and corruption always go hand in hand!

Brazilian billionaire Joesley Batista, the worlds largest meatpacker, surrenders to police.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-corruption-jbs/brazilian-billionaire-joesley-batista-surrenders-to-police-idUSKCN1BL0MF

One can only wonder in disbelief how much sordid under the table deals Pillage Loot Plunder agreed to with these less than desirable people.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Fully agree....especially your view of Baha Mar's lap poodle that goes by the name Sandy.

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lake 2 months, 2 weeks ago

of course the president of atlantis is constantly bashing Baha Mar.... so much for friendly competition. Why would Atlantis evacuate guests from hotel rooms to a ballroom during hurricane matthew if they weren't worried about their hotel being built to standards as well?

Of course Baha would rather send their guests home to guaranteed safety than have em stuck in some ballroom for who knows how long.

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Islandboy242242 2 months, 1 week ago

Take the guests out of the hotel rooms to avoid persons opening Balcony doors during 110 mph winds to take a selfie and cause wind tunnels in the halls.

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rawbahamian 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The hoe-tel was built by exported chinese criminals and street walkers and the management doesn't trust the integrity of the structures for fear of law suits from their guests but they think we are so forking stoopid that there bullshit story will wash with us. So sad !!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Is Karawan asserting in a cute way that he knows Baha Mar is structurally unsound like the older south bound PI Bridge?

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Baha10 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Wow, the obvious concern had to be that the Structure could not withstand a Cat 4 or 5 Hurricane, hence evacuating Hotel for Guest Safety reason, which begs the Questions: 1) Was the Hotel "designed" to withstand such winds? and, more importantly, 2) Was the Hotel "built" to withstand such winds? If the Answers are "Yes" to both, then Management acted irresponsibly and should be Fired, but if the Answers are "No" to either, the Management acted responsibly and should actually be Praised, albeit the implications for The Bahamas and this Property are far worse.

Time for "investigative" Journalism, as this was not a Decision made without substantial reasoning.

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truetruebahamian 2 months, 2 weeks ago

He must have lost his mind somewhere along the way. IF YOU HAVE A PRODUCT _ YOU PROTECT ITS INTEGRITY. Obviously this man has no concept of what could possibly happen plus the incurred costs of dealing with the sustsinance , the maintenance, the costs of cleanup, insurance on false claims and EVERY OTHER FACTOR. This also includes the nasty bastards who will destroy rather than appreciate the opportunity given. Never in a million years!

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SP 2 months, 1 week ago

Exactly how many of these people do YOU know personally as "nasty bastards who will destroy rather than appreciate the opportunity given"?

When WHITE PEOPLE holding a function at Luciano's had a fight, destroying the place, no one described them as "nasty bastards" or made any other derogatory conclusions, and Brent made sure they were not charged!

Had this been black Bahamians under the exact same circumstances, you and your kind would have had a field day condemning them.

YOU Mr. Trumper, are a POS!

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The Chinese know they can't trust Chinese construction....

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Cement made by Red China dissolves in salt water!

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Did anyone complain? Maybe the guests were happy to get off the island with a cat5 headed our way

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tweetybird 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Having just returned from Nassau on the last flight out before the airport was closed, I have to highly recommend the Atlantis Resort and Mr. Howard Karawan, as they instilled, with 100% confidence, the ability to care for and take care of us should we not have been able to get a flight out. We were supposed to check out of Atlantis and into the Grand Hyatt Bahamar on Wed 9-6-17 when a representative from the Grand Hyatt Bahamar called us to tell us they were cancelling our reservation and to go to a public shelter (which was not open, since the island of New Providence where Grand Bahamar is located, was not under an evacuation order of any kind). We thought they were joking. The representative told us it was their policy that in a category 5 hurricane the resort evacuates its guests. We asked if they could help us since we were already on island and the representative repeated "go to a public shelter" and hung up. I can tell you for a fact that there were no government orders to evacuate Nassau. In fact the residents of Crooked Island and Ragged Island were being evacuated TO NASSAU (where the Grand Hyatt Bahamar is located). This is UNACCEPTABLE for a high end resort operating in an area which is prone to hurricanes to tell guests to evacuate and to go to a public shelter. Contrast this to the Atlantis hotel, which not only extended our stay at a "storm rate" but continually reassured us that their preparations were already completed and that should we need to stay we would be provided with safe shelter, food, water and provisions. In fact they day we left they were moving people to the ballroom which had already been set up to shelter guests in place. We felt comforted, protected, and the staff was reassuring and trying to make our stay enjoyable and comfortable despite all this chaos. Mr. Howard Karawan also put out a daily letter broadcast on large screens daily with an update and reassurance for all guests. What a difference. If you value your safety, where would you stay? Choose Atlantis. They've got your back in case of a hurricane emergency and are prepared and confident to protect you and your loved ones.

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birdiestrachan 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Hotels in the USA did the same thing. Perhaps they were afraid of the surges?

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ashley14 2 months, 1 week ago

If paying tourists were there to stay at BahaMar and they couldn't get off of the Island. What we they suppose to do. If Baha Mar wasn't safe were tourists allowed in the shelters. Somewhere that is reasonably considered safe should be provided. It's not like the states where you always can keep driving and eventually get out of arms way. They can't swim home. Maybe the Bahamians don't care. If that's true maybe we shouldn't come there.

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ashley14 2 months, 1 week ago

Too many bad omens associated with Baha Mar. I will never go there.

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OldFort2012 2 months, 1 week ago

Given its recent construction, Baha Mar should be the safest structure in New Providence. It is one thing to evacuate guests by plane to a safe location, an entirely different one to tell them to go to a public shelter. If you had paid thousands to stay there, you would be livid if you were told to go to a public shelter, would you not?
Given that normally they do not have more than a dozen people staying there, they could have evacuated them all in a mini van.

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ashley14 2 months, 1 week ago

I hope they have more than a dozen guests. Maybe they don't. Yes, If I paid thousands to stay somewhere and then told to go to a shelter I would be upset. If because of the location I wasn't safe at that location though, I would go to the shelter. Although all tourists should of been evacuated way before Irma hit. Mandatory evacuations of all hotels in a category 5 hurricane, seems to make sense. You shouldn't wait until you can't get everyone off of the island.

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ashley14 2 months, 1 week ago

According to Tweety Bird they aren't much in the way of hospitality. They have a lot of negative karma to pay. So many Bahamians were screwed over by them and cheated out of pay. They won't be successful, it doesn't work that way.

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tomelishous 2 months, 1 week ago

This article is nothing more than a puff piece for Howard Karawan and Atlantis and another smear by Atlantis on Baha Mar. Atlantis are terrified that their longtime, huge tourist-gouging, moneymaking monopoly is now over with Baha Mar opening up to guests. Atlantis are going to have to drop their absurdly high room and food rates in competitive response (unless they want an empty resort for the upcoming season). Instead of smearing Baha Mar every chance they get, Atlantis should focus on a more effective competitive response, like rationalizing their absurdly high pricing structure. Sorry Atlantis, but your monopoly is now over and you have to adapt to avoid huge financial losses and an empty resort due to increased competition.

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tomelishous 2 months, 1 week ago

Atlantis are just panicking because their longtime, tourist-gouging, huge moneymaking monopoly is now over with Baha Mar opening up to great guest reviews. Atlantis know they have to massively cut their absurdly high room and food rates. If they don't, Atlantis will be an empty resort with quickly mounting financial losses. Instead of smearing Baha Mar, Atlantis should realize their monopoly is over and cut rates in competitive response. Otherwise, Atlantis will be empty for the upcoming season.

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Islandboy242242 2 months, 1 week ago

Bahamar needs a better contingency plan than "find a shelter." High roller guests are supposed to go from "The Bahamian Riviera" to a Bahamian shelter? I understand completely if neither Atlantis nor Bahamar want guests in their rooms during the storm - idiots opening balcony doors to get selfies etc. And maybe the Bahamar ballrooms or conference center has too much glass and foofie design to be a Hurricane Shelter but they need a better contingency.

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turtle777 2 months, 1 week ago

Baha10 and several others are absolutely correct about the need to know everything about Baha Mar, including structural safety, and other issues not yet known to the public. As I stated yesterday, in another editorial on Baha Mar:

The full long-term economic impact of Baha Mar on The Bahamas will not be known, thus creating great uncertainty, until 100% of the "sealed" and "sensitive" documents relating to Baha Mar are fully revealed.

Uncertainty raises red flags with those evaluating Bahamas' financial situation.

100% must be released. And they will be eventually, anyway, voluntarily or through court action.

The longer delayed, the worse for the people of The Bahamas.

In conclusion, I do not want anyone to misinterpret or misconstrue the core of my comments:. I very much want Baha Mar to become profitable, and serve The Bahamas well. They have world class operators and may succeed. However, they are facing a long-term uphill battle. With an opening delayed too often and too long, and with constant problems with even the most basic infrastructure, they face an enormous challenge interesting the high-roller clientel required to make Baha Mar a viable and profitable business. But I sincerely hope they succeed.

TR

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TalRussell 2 months, 1 week ago

Comrades! If we are to measure by the evidence of the photo opts we've seen - it sure appears as PM Minnis's face took front and center as the only red shirts Hurricane Irma face out there for the camera lenses to capture. In fact from his silence - I'd say the minister of tourism - must have been placed in some kinds protective custody away from da hurricane? Strange he has not taken charge of assuring the tourists that they are safe in the Bahamaland....or that he would allow Baha Mar to simply evict all their paying guests and look after themselves?
Other rumour circling around the reds street corners has it that at least one crown cabinet minister has entered a rehab program over in the the USA? Something about the the job and its high pressure is taxing them?

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ashley14 2 months, 1 week ago

Atlantis will be fine. It probably will come down on prices to competition with Baha Mar. if the Bahamas got their shit together, there are enough guests for everyone. Not if you keep running them off.

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ashley14 2 months, 1 week ago

Atlantis will be fine. It probably will come down on prices to compete with Baha Mar. If the Bahamas got their shit together, there are enough guests for everyone. Not if you keep running them off. Crime has to be controlled and clean up Bay Street. Don't intimidate the dumb tourists. They can't help theirselves.

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Nandini 2 months, 1 week ago

Not surprised that BahaMar closed their doors! I was there last month on a family vacation. Second day we were there my husband's Rolex was stolen (a 40k watch) by the pool area bathroom. When reported to hotel security they made minimum attempt to ask the staff members or the construction workers that were working at the time. In fact 2 day later when I called them to see they had interview the works they said "no not yet" seriously! When a crime is committed you cannot wait 2 days to talk to people who are there! To this day I don't no if they ever did. When asked about the camera footage they answer was sorry there was nothing on the camera footage. Oh yeah there cameras everywhere on the property. So hard to believe. They didn't even report to the local police I reported it after 4 days. The police was surprised that they did not report it. The police said if they were called at the time they would have did timely and proper investigation. Every time I tried to follow up I got the run around. Not helpful! No urgency! There were so many cameras so hard to believe there was nothing on the camera footage when there only 6-7 people in the pool area. Yeah the hotel had no guest by the pool. Very disappointing! Will never go there again. We actually checked out the day the watch was stolen and went to the Atlantis and after devasting day of listing such an exoensive watch, the Atlantis made accommodations for our family. #bahamarneveragain

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