BUSINESSMAN Alfred Meister, owner of Blue Lagoon Island/Dolphin Encounters, died peacefully in his home in Cofresi, Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, on Tuesday, October 8.
Mr Meister also owned the Treasure Cay Beach, Marina & Golf Resort in Abaco and Ocean World Adventure Park in Puerto Plata.
Born on March 13, 1934 in Erbendorf, Germany to Ludwig and Maria (nee Mueller) Meister, Mr Meister was the youngest of five children.
Although he is best known in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic for his tourism ventures, his successful business career started when he took over his family’s local convenience store after returning from New York where he spent two years in the US Army.
“His extraordinarily successful business career that spanned more than five decades, four countries and thousands of employees all began with apples,” a press release noted. “Meister had learned about the fledgling wholesale business in the United States and decided to try it in his family’s store. He knew that customers would buy apples and onions in bigger quantities and decided to attempt wholesaling one item to see if it would work. He chose apples because he felt they would look better in the windows. He bought truckloads of apples, put an ad in the local paper with the low price and waited. People came from surrounding towns and lined up the next day to take advantage of the apple sale and Meister never looked back. By the time he was 45-years-old, there were 18 highly successful Meister Cash and Carry wholesale centres (similar to CostCo or Sam’s Clubs in the US) in different towns throughout Bavaria, Germany.
“During a vacation to Nassau in 1973, Meister and his family fell in love with the Bahamas and its people and bought a second home on New Providence. They came every summer and winter to enjoy the beaches, fishing and boating throughout the islands. In 1978, he sold the Meister chain to Metro, the largest European retailer and moved to Nassau in 1979 to retire.”
In 1980, while vacationing in Abaco, he bought a piece of property on the eastern tip of Guana Cay. The Guana Cay property was sold to developers more than 34 years later and it became what is now Baker’s Bay.
His real estate holdings further expanded in 1980 when he bought the Treasure Cay Beach, Marina & Golf Resort in Treasure Cay, Abaco.
At the same time in 1980, Mr Meister purchased Salt Cay, a small island off Paradise Island, from the McCutcheon family. At first, it was simply another place for his family to enjoy but very quickly he saw that it would be a great vacation spot for visitors. He leased part of the island to Nassau Cruises and they began day trips to what they renamed Blue Lagoon Island.
The island’s Dolphin Encounters attraction began in 1987 by Mr Meister.
Mr Meister is survived by his sons Robert and Stefan Meister; sisters Gretl Meister and Lore Donhof; daughter-in-law, Kelly Meister; grandson Aidan Meister; former wife Christl Knapp, Kira Udovychenko and many nieces, nephews and close friends.
Services will be on October 19, at the St Philip the Apostle Cathedral in Puerto Plata, the Dominican Republic at 9.30am and in Nassau on November 1 at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Shirley Street, at 11am.