By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Atlantis has enjoyed "one of the strongest first quarters in many years", its top executive revealing that business is "well ahead" of 2017 numbers.
Audrey Oswell, pictured, the Paradise Island resort's president and managing director, told Tribune Business: "Business is well ahead of last year's numbers, and even 2016 numbers. We are very pleased with how business is going.
"We have had one of the strongest first quarters that we have had in many years, and our business going forward through the rest of the year is also well ahead of last year"
Speaking with this newspaper at the official opening of Atlantis's latest restaurant, the seafood-themed Fish by acclaimed Spanish-American chef, José Andrés, at the Cove, Ms Oswell said the resort is preparing for several renovations.
"We're getting ready to start a renovation of the Reef tower. That will begin in September," she disclosed. "At the same time, a bit later in the month, we will start the renovation of the Royal Towers.
"We will start at the East Tower and work our way to the West Tower. The renovations in the Coral Towers will be finished in June of this year, so we have been opening a tower and bringing it back online a little bit at a time. By the end of next year or early 2020, all of our rooms would have been renovated."
Atlantis relaunched the Cove property last fall and, according to Ms Oswell, the market response has been exceptional. "The Cove is a truly luxury collection property," she said. "The customers are really enjoying the changes we have made there. It has really been well received. Our business has not been this strong in many years at the Cove. We are very pleased with how things are going."
Atlantis last year sought to enhance the "authentic Bahamian" experience if offered, and provide more economic benefits to Bahamian businesses. It brought the likes of iconic Harbour Island restaurant, Sip Sip, to the Cove as well as other Bahamian restaurants.
"Last year we made a conscious decision to embrace the Bahamian culture, and to ensure that our customers were getting a truly authentic Bahamian experience here at the resort," Ms Oswell said.
"They certainly could leave the resort and experience more of the Bahamas if they would like to, but if they choose not to, we want to ensure that they could understand and experience a lot of the culture, and that is through the cuisine, the art, the music and, certainly, the warmth and hospitality that Bahamians have to offer.
"We have embarked on our 'Bahamas At Heart' initiative as not so much a campaign but a part of who we are, how we operate and what we truly believe in. All of our employees share in that. It's been really well received. People love our newer offerings like Frankie Gone Bananas, Pirates Republic and Sip Sip."
Ms Oswell said even Chef Andrés' restaurant pays homage to traditional Bahamian cuisine. Chef Andrés added that he had intentionally included invasive lion fish on the menu, as a way to support sustainability in the Bahamian fisheries sector.
A portion of the cost of the restaurant's signature lion fish dish will go directly to the Blue Project Foundation, The Cove's non-profit organisation dedicated to saving marine species and their habitats throughout the Bahamas.