Baha Mar Officials and Partners participated in the groundbreaking of the mega development on Cable Beach yesterday. A $2.4 billion investment from the Export-Import Bank of China and China State Construction Company agreed last year, as well as an $800 million investment from the Izmirlian family, made the vision a reality as work has begun now on what Baha Mar Chairman and CEO Sarkis Izmirlian said will be “a luxury resort unrivaled in the region”.
There will be three new hotels operated by Rosewood, Hyatt and Morgans Hotel Group, as well as access from the existing Sheraton and Wyndham hotels to the new mega-resort. Plans include the largest Las Vegas style casino in the Caribbean, a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, the largest destination spa in the region, a 20 acre eco-waterpark, a 50,000 square feet retail village, 24 restaurants, lounges, nightclubs, and 200,000 square feet of modern convention facilities.
The resort will create thousands of jobs for Bahamians and provide training for those in construction and the service industry. Yesterday, Mr. Izmirlian called on Bahamians to take advantage of these, saying “We're committed to providing opportunities both during construction and after opening; opportunities to succeed, provide for your families, and have a meaningful career." He added, "However we need you and we need your efforts and commitments. Now is the time for Bahamians to make the push to help themselves and their communities."
Don Robinson, President of Baha Mar Resorts, also spoke to the Baha Mar Service and Training Academy, indicating that initial training will focus on construction workers and then move to the training of staff for the new casino and hotel brands. Training, he said, will be very much a part of the Baha Mar culture.
Also at the groundbreaking yesterday, China’s Ambassador to the Bahamas, Hu Dingxian, said the development could herald further investment by Chinese businesses and entrepreneurs in The Bahamas. Commenting on the overseas investment by Chinese companies, he said this showed an increase of 36% year-over-year in 2010, totalling $59 billion in 3,125 projects. "I believe, with continued development of the bilateral relationship, more and more Chinese investors will be coming to The Bahamas to seek investment and co-operation." Li Rougu, Chairman and President of the China Export-Import Bank, also presented remarks at the ceremony, indicating, "We are delighted to see The Bahamas take effective measures to restore its economy, and improve the business and investment environment, which are paving the way for the next round of economic growth.”
Visitors attracted by the Baha Mar brand will be facilitated by more airlines expected to operate more flights into the redeveloped Lynden Pindling International Airport from across the United States, Europe, the Middle East and China. Sen. the Hon. Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Minister of Tourism and Aviation, said the opening of the first phase of the redeveloped Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) later in the week, together with Baha Mar, provides "the perfect book ends to an amazing week". These two have been described as the largest private and public sector investment projects in the history of The Bahamas. The Minister continued, "When people look and see what is happening here, they will know there is something very special about The Bahamas, when there is nowhere in the hemisphere where something like this is beginning to happen. Thanks very much for putting us so prominently in people's minds with this outstanding project”.
Baha Mar is an unprecedented resort development in The Bahamas that captures the true spirit of the island and the region, while bringing together the most prestigious collection of hospitality brands in the world, to create a leading resort destination. According to the resort’s CEO, “This is a historic day not only for Baha Mar, but for The Bahamas, our partners, and, just as significantly, for the global tourism industry. Baha Mar represents an unprecedented alliance of powerhouses in the hospitality, financial and construction industries, and signals a shifting of the sands for the travel industry. Baha Mar also represents the birth of a new generation of destination resorts that will compete on a world scale.”