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A Vancouver-based resort company which took over the management of the Ginn Sur Mer property in Grand Bahama is looking into the possible purchase of 550 acres of property in Treasure Cay, Abaco, with a view to a possible further development of the area, Guardian Business has learned.
Replay Resorts is looking at the land, currently owned by the Meister family, owner/operators of Treasure Cay Ltd. and Dolphin Encounters on Salt Cay, which includes the Treasure Cay resort and Marina and some additional vacant property.
German-born Ludwig Meister bought 1,500 acres of Treasure Cay in 1981. Today the area includes an array of rental properties, privately owned homes, a 150-slip marina, restaurant and golf course. The development is situated on what is considered one of the world's top beaches, Treasure Cay beach.
A source with knowledge of the matter said: "(Representatives of Replay Resorts) are in Treasure Cay all the time these days. They are looking at the Meister property, but it's very, very secretive."
The Meister property had been close to a sale around three years ago, but the deal was dropped after the government reportedly placed conditions on any future development of the site that the buyer considered too prohibitive.
"The developer walked away," said the source of that deal.
Replay Resorts describes itself as "in the business of planning, designing, building and orchestrating experience-driven destinations".
"To do so, we reassess, restructure and re-energize great places and, once we have, we then re-engage the marketplace," it states on its website.
In relation to Grand Bahama, Replay Resorts was brought into the picture in 2012 by a Credit Suisse-led syndicate after a loan default by developers Bobby Ginn and Lubert Adler saw the $4.9 billion West Grand Bahama Ginn Sur Mer project placed into foreclosure in 2010.
Under a settlement, Credit Suisse controlled approximately 1,600 acres of the West End, Grand Bahama site.
According to its website, Replay Resorts manages a "master planned destination resort... for a consortium of financial partners (in Grand Bahama) and is proceeding with the first stages of planning for the development of this magnificent property".
"The site was originally intended to be an Atlantis-size resort and casino known as Ginn Sur Mer. Our plan calls for a style of resort development more in scale with tropical settings and with the
plantation-era, colonial period of The Bahamas," it adds.
On its website, Replay Resorts states that it "inherited" around $200 million-worth of infrastructural development when it took over the Ginn project. It is not clear what the status of that development is today. In 2012, Replay Resorts' Chief Executive Officer Bill Green had highlighted challenges in identifying development partners.
The company also has management control of the Turtle Bay Resort, the only destination resort located on Oahu, Hawaii's North Shore, on behalf of a consortium of owner-investors. Its responsibilities there include repositioning and rebranding the resort, reinventing the hotel, including its food-and-beverage operations, and improving its financial outlook.
In Puerto Los Cabos, Mexico, Replay has partnered with the master developer of a resort, Mexico-based Grupo Questro, to lead the design and development of a mixed-use marina village. Other projects are underway in California and the Dominican Republic.
Messages left for Ludwig Meister's son Robert, and Replay Resorts, seeking comment were not returned up to press time.
Old Bahama Bay Resort (OBB) will not renew its rental management agreement with 73 condominium owners and plans to focus all attention on future development. The move by OBB Resort, owner of 225 acres of resort and commercial property in Grand Bahama, is consistent with the developer's long-term plan.es to this end."
Grand Isle Resort & Spa this week announced the appointment of Bahamian Shervin Penn as Resort Manager of its $100 million, luxurious 78 condo villa resort at the peak of Emerald Bay on Great Exuma.
“We are pleased to announce the promotion of Assistant Manager Shervin Penn to the post of Resort Manager,” said James Clabaugh, President of EGI Ltd., developers of the luxury property that has consistently ranked #1 of 11 hotels in Exuma on TripAdvisor.com, even during the heyday of the famed Four Seasons which closed earlier this year to clear the way for the sale of land on which it was situated as part of a larger transaction. “We know that a new era is dawning for Exuma and we believe that Shervin’s appreciation of how important a superior visitor experience is will help Grand Isle retain its standing among repeat discerning guests and the many new visitors that Sandals will be bringing to Exuma.”
NEW YORK, NY (June 15, 2012) – Sandals Resorts kicked off wedding season with a star-studded, interactive bridal experience at Grand Central Terminal on June 14, 2012. With TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress star Randy Fenoli, Sandals Resorts transformed Vanderbilt Hall into a tropical paradise to celebrate the launch of Your Wedding. Your Style., Sandals’ all-new destination wedding concept that allows couples to personally style and execute their dream wedding at Sandals Royal Bahamian and any one of Sandals’ other luxurious resorts dotted across the Caribbean.
Millions of dollars are being spent to upgrade the bathroom tiles at Atlantis on Paradise Island, with remodelling starting on the already luxurious Cove.
Senior VP of Public Affairs, Ed Fields, confirmed that work is already underway, and approximately $5 million is being spent to refurbish the showers in the tower.
"We are changing glass tiles in showers to marble," he told Guardian Business.
"While an upgrade, it is a change from one type of tile to another. Nothing else in [the] room is being changed.
"[There will be] no impact on 'star level' changing tiles from glass to marble in showers."
Meanwhile, Kerzner International's executives are working hard to refinance $2.6 billion in mortgage debt that matures tomorrow.
Last month, Guardian Business reported that the company was exploring the possibility of selling its 50 percent stake in the Atlantis resort in Dubai to raise money and pay down the debt on the Bahamian property.
The current $5 million upgrade follows Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's earlier announcement that many new projects would start at the property, giving a temporary employment boost to the construction industry.
"The important ongoing $100 million renovation and upgrade project at Kerzner International properties on Paradise Island continues with a completion date slated for December of this year," Ingraham said in his speech on the budget debate 2011/2012.
"Further, Kerzner International expects to commence the development of its new timeshare resort and expansion of the Hurricane Hole marina this year."
Analysts suspect the move by Atlantis to commence the upgrades was strategic, giving the project first grab at available skilled labor in the country before the Baha Mar project takes off.
Local contractors are expected to oversee some 95 percent of the Paradise Island project, a stark contrast to the minority share they are likely to enjoy at Baha Mar.
Last week, Baha Mar revealed to Guardian Business the plans behind 313 luxurious apartments and villas that will be offered to international investors in January.
The properties will be located in the five-star Grand Hyatt, Rosewood, Mondrian and Casino Hotels and will include everything from a $1.2 million one-bedroom apartment to a $6 million, four-bedroom villa on the beach.
Executives are targeting "an extremely up-scale" residential experience for investors who won't necessarily be residing in The Bahamas all the time.
The new place will likely go head-to-head in competition with Atlantis' most luxurious residences in the Cove and the Reef.
As 1,200 passengers are set to be reaccommodated in Grand Bahama due to the delayed opening of the Memories Grand Bahama Resort, management company Blue Diamond Hotels and Resorts has stated that it "will not accept delivery of the hotel" until it is completed to their specifications.
Todd Kirlik, director of sales and marketing for Blue Diamond, said Hutchison was provided with a very detailed specifications list of the Memories resort's standards that needed to be incorporated into the renovation before they started the process.
"Memories provided our architect and interior designer to help them meet those specifications," he said.
"Until the specifications of the hotel are met to our standards, Memories' management will not accept delivery of the hotel.
"Memories' management was originally told the hotel would be handed over prior to Christmas, then we were told January 16th and now have been told February 1st. By the looks of the hotel, this seems to be achievable," said Kirlik when contacted by Guardian Business about the delay in the opening of the resort, which was scheduled to open on January 16th after
initially being delayed from a mid-December launch.
Blue Diamond Resorts entered into an agreement in 2012 to manage and operate the former-Reef Village hotel once it was renovated by owner Hutchison Whampoa.
Its travel affiliate, Sunwing, started bringing in passengers via flights from six Canadian flights to Grand Bahama on January 16th as part of an effort to boost occupancy at the newly-launched resort.
Director General of Tourism David Johnson said that 1,200 passengers are expected to have to be reaccommodated in light of the fact that the resort is not yet open.
However, he expressed confidence that the visitors, who were informed that the resort would not be open and given a chance to get a full refund for their trip before they left Canada, would not be left with a bitter taste in their mouths and neither will the delay go down as a "black mark" for Grand Bahama, as some had suggested.
"It's as if you were booked at the Beach Tower at Atlantis and when you came down they said that tower is closed and instead you are at the Coral Towers next door - same beach, same facilities, same amenities, same golf course - and it is not costing you anymore and the accommodations are more upgraded," he said.
"They are getting access to steakhouses, five star Chinese restaurants, upgrades they are getting for no additional cost; so I believe under the circumstances these guests are getting, in some respects, greater value than what they bargained for. Plus, everyone is bending over backwards to make them feel very special."
Johnson would not give a date when he expects the resort to be open, but added that "the project managers, landlord, Sunwing and the entire team are working intensively to get the resort open in the shortest possible time frame".
"I am told last night much progress has been made, and so I feel very shortly it will be in 100 percent condition to receive guests," added Johnson.
Meanwhile, despite the suggestion that the property is not yet up to the companies' standards, a source close to Sunwing/Blue Diamond told Guardian Business on Friday that the resort already "looks terrific" and they feel confident it will shortly be ready.
"These types of things happen in this industry, and I think it's really just a blip," said one source.
However, a prominent Grand Bahama businessman who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he viewed the situation as "pretty grim".
"It's really tragic for Grand Bahama; you have a major resort company, you have a property in Freeport that's been derelict, they get a chance to get some things going, and it gets screwed up."
The opening of the Memories Grand Bahama Resort has been billed as a major boon for the Grand Bahama economy going into 2014, set to soak up some of the island's unemployment, which stood at 19.5 percent in May of last year, and stimulate spin-off economic activity.
Johnson said that there was no challenge in accommodating the visitors at the nearby Grand Lucayan hotel, due to a post Christmas "lull" which meant vacant rooms were available.
The visitors are being put up there at no extra cost to themselves, he added.
He expressed optimism for Grand Bahama in 2014, notwithstanding the delay in the resort's opening.
"I think Grand Bahama is on track for a great year. People working very hard; it's very challenging project, and I think they've given it their best," he added.