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I was very disappointed to have read the comments attributed to Michael Scott in The Nassau Guardian National Review article "The great land giveaway". Putting aside the misleading title for the story, the quotes attributed to Scott seek to suggest that the land, the subject of the Progressive Liberal Party's (PLP) negotiated heads of agreement, was a "gift" to foreigners. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the terms of the deal cannot be objectively characterized as "the greatest land giveaway".
I was mostly disgusted and shocked at Scott's rather shallow characterization of the deal as capable of treating the 350 natives of Mayaguana much like Native Americans being relegated to a reservation. This was utterly silly language which was also unfortunate because it completely misrepresented the intention of the original deal and it perhaps demonstrates the lack of vision and the prospect Mayaguana can have in an economically viable Bahamas by the present leadership of the Hotel Corporation.
The facts of the original agreement
It is untrue and smacks of rather crude political mischief making that the Free National Movement (FNM) will continue to utter a clear falsity that the PLP government conveyed 9,999 acres of Crown land to a foreign entity known as the I-Group in March 2006 in connection with a development at Mayaguana. It is being purported that the present administration has now signed a revised heads of agreement with the I-Group, which has recovered 5,825 acres of the land.
It is so unfortunate that this deliberate untruth is calculated to prey upon the emotive subject of the disposition of Crown land to foreigners for partisan political advantage during this 'election season'.
The truth is that the PLP government led by Perry Christie was unalterably opposed to the sale of this large acreage of Crown land in Mayaguana to the I-Group or any other group of foreigners for large scale development. As a result and after two years of meticulous negotiations, the government entered into a heads of agreement with Mayaguana Island Developers Limited (MID), a joint venture entity owned 50/50 by the government through the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas (HCB) and the I-Group of Boston headed by Stephen Roy, a wealthy and prominent businessman. The land was to be conveyed to the joint venture company only in stages after certain clear milestones of development were reached. There was no agreement for the wholesale purchase or acquisition of 9,999 acres by the I-Group as is being stated.
The specific purpose of both the heads of agreement and the joint venture agreement, as stated therein, was to encourage and facilitate economic growth and development on Mayaguana so as to attract both Bahamians and non-Bahamians as both investors and residents, leaving no doubt that the land in the development area was to be occupied and used by both Bahamians and non-Bahamians, in that order.
The scale of the anchor project which was envisaged at full build out to total more than an estimated $1.7 billion, obligated the joint venture company to prepare and implement, subject to government's approval, a comprehensive plan for the orderly development on the Island of Mayaguana of a viable community, residential, mixed-use resort, commercial, industrial, social and educational developments, associated utilities, airport, marinas, harbor and related infrastructure and nature parks, which would provide a range of new economic opportunities. It was envisaged that in addition to Mayaguana, the development would also positively and significantly impact the economy of the southeastern Bahamas including Inagua, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay and Ragged Island, indeed all of The Bahamas in general.
Under the terms of the original heads of agreement and joint venture agreement, the following key financial considerations applied:
? The Hotel Corporation and I-Group each owned 50 percent of the shares in the capital of Mayaguana Island Developers Limited.
? In consideration of the transfer of the Crown land to MID and the grant of the concessions to MID as contained in the heads of agreement, the I-Group agreed to contribute the entire capital for the initial project in an amount of not less than $14 million, inclusive of $2 million paid by the I-Group to the government at the signing of the heads of agreement and joint venture agreement.
? In addition, MID was to establish the Mayaguana Community Fund, consisting of not less than $1,250,000 by the end of the fifth year, to be augmented annually by 2.5 percent of the revenues of MID thereafter.
? HCB would receive from MID a fee equal to 10 percent of the gross sales price from the sale of residential lots, and five percent of the gross sales price received for the sale of commercial lots. Similarly, under the management agreement between MID and Mayaguana Management Co. Ltd. (MMC) the same amounts were to be paid to MMC.
? HCB and the I-Group would share 50/50 in the profits of MID.
? I-Group and HCB would work cooperatively to attract other investors and additional capital to implement the overall development plans for Mayaguana.
? MID working in cooperation with the government would arrange financial assistance to encourage Bahamians to acquire homes and settle in Mayaguana.
Land use plan
The I-Group met the cost of preparation of a comprehensive regional land use plan for the island of Mayaguana, which was approved by government and became the property of MID. The regional land use plan made provisions for and shows the following:
a. Permanent wetlands that should be excluded from any activity.
b. Seasonal marshlands that should also not be disturbed
c. Conservation areas that should also not be disturbed, but may be considered for some limited common/public use under stringent conditions.
d. Nature preserves that should be properly managed
e. Agricultural lands
f. Ranch lands
g. Undeveloped lands, including land for expansion of existing settlements
h. Public beaches
i. Areas for development by MID, including golf courses
j. Areas that could be developed by other interested parties
k. Commercial activity areas
l. Light industrial activity area around the airport, and
m. Medical/academic campus
What the project was to be
The initial project which was to be completed within two years from the initial project commencement date was well underway when the PLP left office in May 2007. In fact at that point, the I-Group's expenditure had almost doubled the $14 million estimated for its cost. The initial project included inter alia the following:
? Rehabilitation of 7,000 feet of the existing 11,000-foot runway capable of accommodating international service of Boeing 737 aircraft
? Construction of an adequate new terminal building, security and ancillary facilities to international standards as approved by the Department of Civil Aviation and other authorities
? Construction of a 19-unit boutique resort at North Beach, and layout of a 100-lot single family residential subdivision
? Construction of the Mayaguana Harbour Development at Pirate's Well Creek comprising a basin large enough to accommodate up to 10 recreational sized boat slips, a dredged channel, layout of a 50-lot residential subdivision, and a three-unit villa
? Layout of North Beach East Subdivision consisting of 100 lots and construction of a three-unit villa
? Provision of the necessary public utilities to support the foregoing development
? Community projects consisting of improvements to the Mayaguana Health Clinic, construction of science laboratory at Abraham's Bay School, and a lunch, recreation room and outdoor recreational facilities at Pirate's Well School, layout and commissioning of other community recreational facilities, construction of 15 miles of roads within the development area and provision of potable water to local communities at rates to be agreed with Water and Sewerage Corporation
? Layout of an industrial zone in the vicinity of the airport
? Establishment of repair, technical training and materials processing and recovery facilities in the industrial zone
? Preparation of plans and layout for one golf course and commissioning of a putting green and driving range
? Preparation and layout of an equestrian-themed housing subdivision
? Rehabilitation of Nature Centre & Picnic Area at North Beach close to Curtis Creek
? Reserving an area of not less than 20 acres for a public beach in Curtis Creek area - this beach is to be in addition to traditional access enjoyed by Bahamians on all beaches in Mayaguana
? Obtaining a letter of intent from a third party operator for development of 225-room resort in Mayaguana
? Progress on developing Mayaguana as a port of call for cruise lines
? Establishment of nature preserves at Curtis Creek, Blackwood Point, Booby Cay, Long Cay and Pirate's Well Creek - the preserves shall come under the management of a foundation
What the FNM did
After the FNM came to power in May 2007, it set out to frustrate and put road blocks in the way of the Mayaguana project by stopping certain vital duty-free concessions, which stalled the project in which the I-Group had already invested over $25 million. By early 2008 the recession was setting in. As a consequence the frustrated chairman of the I-Group, Stephen Roy, wrote to the prime minister invoking the provisions of the force majeure/unforseen events and delays clause to slow down the project and revise the business plan because of "the adverse change in economic conditions in financial markets in the United States".
Instead of simply agreeing to revise the business plan and extending the concessions, the Ingraham administration, because it did not wish to honor the terms of the heads of agreement which they found in place, seized the opportunity over three long years to exact a revised agreement out of the I-Group under the guise of getting back some 5,825 acres of Crown land. This revised agreement is less in the public interest in terms of the reduced scope of the project and the outright grant of some 4,000 acres of crown land to a foreign owned company.
An important safeguard in ensuring that the provisions of the heads of agreement, joint venture agreement and management agreement as approved by the PLP administration are fully implemented, is the provision for the government through the Hotel Corporation to appoint directors to the boards of both the joint venture company (MID) and the Mayaguana Management Company (MMC).
Under the terms of the revised heads of agreement, the FNM is allowing this safeguard to fall away. Also as a result of the cancellation of the joint venture and management agreements by the FNM a foreign owned company will now be entitled to the grant of some 4,000 acres of Crown land on Mayaguana, something the PLP would not have done. Regrettably, the scale of the project and its economic impact have been considerably reduced under the terms of the revised heads of agreement.
For the record it should be pointed out that at all material times during the negotiations with the I-Group as well as in the heads of agreement and joint venture agreement, the PLP administration ensured that sufficient Crown land remained available for the expansion of existing communities together with the creation of new communities on the island of Mayaguana. The project itself, the terms of the heads of agreement and joint venture agreement were fully discussed with and agreed upon in town meetings with the people of Mayaguana and with descendants.
The suggestion that the deal would have "people herding together in the interior" is untrue and a rather unfortunate description of the intentions of the joint venture. It is hoped that these facts dispel the misrepresentations printed in the article and that the Bahamian people now have the full benefit of the salient facts surrounding the joint venture development in Mayaguana. It is further hoped that the Bahamian people and all the residents of Mayaguana know that it is the PLP that has always championed their cause and put them first.
o George Smith is a former PLP MP for Exuma, Cabinet minister and chairman of the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas.
The government has been advised by the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) that it should develop a set policy on the development of over-water bungalows in The Bahamas, days after the government approved the Leaf Cay resort, the first such project of its kind in The Bahamas.
Leaf Cay's principal, Peter Vazquez, has suggested that by bringing the over-water bungalow concept - previously seen primarily in the Pacific, a significantly farther flight for U.S. tourists - to The Bahamas, this country will benefit from a surge in tourism of a kind it has never seen before.
Eric Carey, executive director of the BNT, told Guardian Business in an interview that he does not see the over-water bungalows which are planned for the $50 million Leaf Cay resort in the Exuma islands having a particularly detrimental environmental impact. However, Carey has urged the government to exercise caution in how quickly and on what conditions the over-water bungalow concept is extended throughout The Bahamas.
"I think it's something we should explore - approve one or two and see how it works, see how we can monitor and manage that, and make sure its something we want nationally before we go ahead and approve that.
"There are these places in the Pacific where they are more well known, and they are pretty successful low impact resorts. High-end in a lot of cases. The issue becomes one of quality control for me, rather than an environmental issue. We certainly don't want every Tom, Dick and Harry who want to put up a water bungalow to do so, and so what I advised the minister is that we should develop guidelines for these."
Last week, Guardian Business revealed exclusively the government's decision to provide approval in principle to yacht charter company owner Vazquez and his wife Kim, along with their business partner Roger Cardinale, to build the Leaf Cay resort.
The resort, a private 13.1-acre island, will be turned into a commercial resort where 16 over-water bungalows, seven private villas, eight two-unit townhome villas and five "tree top bungalows" will be available to guests, along with a 30-slip marina and fuel dock, a restaurant and bar, an infinity pool, tennis courts and an over-water spa.
The plan is to sell the villas but enter them back into a rental pool.
Cardinale is the president of the international division of CEC Entertainment, which develops, operates and franchises the Chuck E. Cheese's family entertainment center brand.
Carey said that the BNT was not formally consulted by the government, but BNT officials were asked by key members of the government for their opinion on the project.
"Our feeling about it from an environmental perspective was that the bungalows are no more of an impact than a marina, less in a lot of respects, as with a marina often there's dredging involved. With over-water bungalows you drive pilings, there are the same or less sewage issues, they do not have a fuel component, etc.
"We would want to make sure that there is proper collection and retrieval of sewage from the lines, that it goes into a closed system and gets treated on the land, and you can do that in the same way you would do a pump out for boats, so in my opinion I don't think the impact is any more significant than for a marina."
Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments, told Guardian Business the government saw the Leaf Cay resort project as a "welcome addition to our tourism product".
"The Bahamas has been a globally competitive tourism business and we want to look at things that would distinguish The Bahamas differently than some of our regional competitors."
However, George Smith, former MP for Exuma, said he is not impressed with the government's decision to approve the over-water bungalows for Leaf Cay, adding that he was concerned about how the bungalows would fare during a hurricane.
"We are now doing something that seems to be popular somewhere in the Indian Ocean but there's very little land in that part of the world, we don't have any shortage of cays in which you can do these things. Just because it works in Bora Bora, or because something may work in New York, it may be terribly out of place in The Bahamas."
He added that as far as he is aware the Leaf Cay proposal is "not popular" among those who frequent nearby Staniel Cay, although he did not elaborate on this.
Meanwhile, Smith expressed concern that Vazquez is being given an opportunity that would not have been afforded to a Bahamian.
Vazquez told Guardian Business that while The Bahamas is hurricane prone, the over-water bungalows will be designed and built in a way which takes this into account, using concrete rather than wooden pilings, and concrete roof trusses.
"These are rated up to a category three type of hurricane protection, they are not common run-of-the-mill over-water bungalows. Plus, the bungalows are contained on the north side of Leaf Cay, which has 360-degree protection by Harvey Cay, Staniel Cay, Big Majors and Sampson Cay to the east. It also has extremely shallow water, so there will be no build up of any waves."
As the government moves full speed ahead with its intention to implement value-added tax (VAT), a leading hotelier said he would have preferred a sales tax and is urging the government to delay the implementation date for VAT.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Atlantis President and Managing Director George Markantonis said for the Paradise Island property, implementing a sales tax would be "easier" than implementing VAT. He made this suggestion as uncertainty still looms about the latter form of taxation.
"We all understand it and the whole world has done it (sales tax). And more importantly for us, our computer systems would be able to take those changes," he said.
While the government has proposed a general VAT rate of 15 percent, the hotel sector will be subject to a lower rate of 10 percent. Markantonis has estimated that his company will have to spend at least $500,000 on technology to implement VAT.
Markantonis is not the only one suggesting that a sales tax be implemented instead of VAT.
Numerous members of the business community, such as President of the Bahamas Motor Dealers Association Fred Albury, and Super Value President Rupert Roberts, have also touted such an alternative as a simpler alternative to VAT.
Meanwhile, Pedro Delaney, a chartered accountant and chief financial officer at Societe Generale Private Banking (Bahamas) Ltd. and SG Hambros Bank and Trust (Bahamas) Ltd., recently said the government should consider other forms of taxation such as a corporate income tax, which he believes would be easier to implement.
"When you consider income taxes, there are personal income taxes as well as corporate income taxes. Corporate taxes may be an easier measure to implement if we are going to address income taxes. The government may in considering that want to consider a flat rate for corporations on their net income," he noted.
The government, however, has pointed to the more "regressive" nature of a sales tax, which does not allow for credits for tax paid on inputs, and therefore becomes "a tax on a tax". Officials have also suggested the credit mechanism under VAT would increase compliance with the tax regime.
Atlantis' top executive is urging the government to postpone the July 2014 implementation to allow for more preparation time. In the meantime, Markantonis confirmed that Atlantis plans to hire consultants to help it understand the ins and outs of VAT and the impact it could have. He maintains that his biggest concern is the possibility of The Bahamas outpricing itself as a destination.
"We're not sure how it's going to impact us spread across our campus because we have multiple business units and revenue streams. They're not all what it would be in a typical hotel. Is Marina Village, which has four of our restaurants, part of the hotel or not? How do the dolphins fall into this picture? There are a lot of factors you have to look at," he told Guardian Business.
"We're not going to eat the costs, that's for sure. So the issue is going to be if there is going to be an added cost, and if we're not going to be reimbursed for it in another manner, which is trackable, that's the key, then obviously we are going to have to pass that on to the consumer. Do we like it? Well, no. I hope it doesn't get to that because we certainly don't want to outprice our destination because we are already fairly pricey."
Officials at the Ministry of Finance estimate that VAT can generate approximately $200 million in revenue in the first year alone, which the government has suggested is key to reducing national debt levels.
Last week Wednesday, Leaf Cay was the first resort to receive approval in principal by the government to develop overwater bungalows. Instrumental to this approval in principle was a report - "A Review of Overwater Bungalows: Environmental Considerations Specific to The Bahamas" - by Keith Bishop of Islands By Design and Melissa Alexiou, now of Waypoint Consulting.
According to the report, "An overwater bungalow mimics in most respects a standard dock structure with known environmental considerations that can be managed under the guidelines of an environmental management plan."
Such environmental considerations were noted as habitat degradation due to alteration of light conditions from shading, and turbidity generated from suspended sediment during construction.
By highlighting similarities with docks and marina structures, the report identifies issues presently known to marina operators and coastal resource managers.
The report added: "Thus, the impacts to vegetation, the physical environment, and management of utilities, with the exception of sewerage are familiar to Bahamian coastal resource managers. Though even here marina operators must contend with direct pump out of waste from individual vessels, a problem identified in Elizabeth Harbour, Great Exuma where a direct discharge of sewerage is now prohibited."
In terms of waste management, most notably sewerage, the innovative use of shipboard technology to contain and handle the generated waste is recommended.
Aware of the pristine environment that these units will occupy, all waste water will be collected and handled through a macerator and evacuated either by gravity or by low pressure and discharge into a land-based Bio Digester treating waste water anaerobically, thus ensuring no raw water release to the environment.
Moreover, the document notes that overwater bungalows are not always appropriate given the location.
"At the very least, the Bahamian government must recognize that the proposed location for any overwater structure, dock or bungalow on any given island of The Bahamas depends on the local physical and environmental parameters," according to the report.
Recent comments from Eric Carey, executive director of the Bahamas National Trust, urging the government to develop an overwater bungalow policy align with the recommendation for National Overwater Bungalow Guidelines that would "proactively deter development proposals that would result in environmental degradation".
According to Alexiou, the document represents an alternative approach to assessing new tourism products or innovative development proposals not yet available in The Bahamas.
"The report underlines the need for more applied science in the decision-making process," she said.
"The Bahamas has incredible natural resources, but it has to be amenable to innovative products. This report served to facilitate understanding of the environmental considerations specific to overwater bungalows."
Palm Cay has banked more than $2 million in sales since its wildly successful open house-and more sales could be on the way.After hundreds of people circulated through the new development in eastern New Providence, four buyers signed on the dotted line, securing townhouses valued at $499,000. A fifth investor purchased a lot for $212,000, bringing the total proceeds from the day to around $2.2 million.
Richard Browning, the CEO of Palm Cay, said the event on March 17 has dramatically changed the project's visibility and prospects for the future.
"We've since had the possibility of another three sales,"he added."This was our first exposure. We have improved our branding and our visibility. We have carried on with construction, sold a few properties and reorganized ourselves. Now we are a player in the game."
Calling the open house"unprecedented and unpredicted", more than 400 people crowded the model home that day.
To sweeten the deal, Palm Cay threw in a slip worth an estimated $80,000 for anyone purchased a property that day. Browning toldGuardian Businessthe rationale behind the deal was to "say we have something special". He felt the slips demonstrate the lifestyle Palm Cay offers to investors and residents.
The development is now in the process of pouring $20 million into construction this year, as reported byGuardian Businessback in January. That figure is on top of the $40 million already spent.
This string of sales brings total sales at Palm Cay to six ocean front homes and 10 townhouses, with six residents already living on site.
Browning said Palm Cay is in final development of 60 beachfront lots.
"We're ploughing on," he reported.
"The ocean front block will be done by June, with the backlot being done in the middle of this year, perhaps August. We're looking to release further product towards the end of this year as well, such as small cottages."
However, the CEO pointed out that further work will be fueled by the interests of would-be investors. Management plans to gain as much feedback as possible from the 400-strong crowd that packed Palm Cay recently, with 280 of these individuals filling out "forms of interest".
"We want to make sure it's the product people want," he said.
Browning told Guardian Business that this recent success should be emulated by other developers on the island, in the sense that positive thinking and"broadcasting "the product does wonders for injecting confidence in the market.
Insisting that he doesn't have "competitors", the Palm Cay chief insisted there is still money out there for quality investors in property.
"The Bahamas has to be something everyone believes in. We can't be alone in the wilderness. We should all be shouting it," he explained. "We just need to create an excitement and pride in what we are doing."
The community currently employs 30 Bahamians, although he anticipates up to 200 jobs may be up for grabs in the coming years.
Palm Cay has a marina at its centerpiece, and a supermarket, tackle shop, clubhouse restaurant, children's playground and tennis courts will be completed by the end of this year.
The first of 10 energy audits on small and mid-sized hotels and resorts in The Bahamas have revealed that the hotels can make significant savings through a variety of "no-cost, low-cost and investment cost initiatives", Guardian Business has learned.
Hotels that participated in the first round of the audit initiative include: Viva Wyndham and Pelican Bay on Grand Bahama; Pink Sands, Tingum Village, Romora Bay and Valentines Resort and Marina on Harbour Island and Sandals, Wyndham Nassau Beach, Comfort Suites and the Paradise Island Harbour Resort on Nassau-Paradise Island.
The audits are being conducted under the auspices of the CHENACT project, a major program which the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) and the Ministry of Tourism are undertaking with the support of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean Tourism Organization through support grants from the Inter-American Development Bank and other international donor agencies.
Noting that places still remain for hotels to get involved in the next phase of the project, which commences this fall, Frank Comito, BHTA executive vice president, said: "Participating hotels are providing room donations to help offset some of the estimated $3,000-$6,000 value of the audits and will receive detailed recommendations and be eligible for an upgrade grant through the project."
He added that by the end of the year, a minimum of an additional 20 detailed hotel audits will be undertaken throughout The Bahamas.
"The findings in their aggregate will be shared with all BHTA members to assist them with lowering energy costs."
The CHENACT project was launched in February 2013 with the aim of helping the small and medium sized hotels - hotels with fewer than 400 rooms - achieve better financial sustainability and promote energy conservation in their operations.
The ultimate goal will be to improve the competitiveness of small and medium sized hotels through improved use of energy, with the emphasis on Renewable Energy and Micro-Generation.
Additionally, there will be positive impacts to the environment in terms of reductions in greenhouse gases and ozone layer depletion if hotels are able to reduce their energy usage.
In a recent release, the BHTA noted that energy costs average 15 to 20 percent of a Bahamian resort's overall costs, a figure which cannot be sustained without a negative impact on competitiveness.
A UK-based property developer is spearheading a push to turn 600 acres of South Andros into an "ecological premier international village resort", featuring four hotels, at least 1,750 residential units, a marina village and a golf course, estimated to be valued at $1 billion at full build out and to add $900 million to the Bahamian economy.
Stephen House, president of South Andros International Company Limited (SAICL), said that he believes the project could play a role in "balancing" the economic development of The Bahamas by establishing a major resort on the large and underdeveloped island.
"There's two miles of palm fringed beach, it's 10 minutes from the airport, there's a port of entry and a lot of natural terrain around to make sure this project can start to sell a part of The Bahamas that hasn't yet been sold," said House in an interview with Guardian Business.
At 2,300 square miles, Andros is the largest island in The Bahamas and the fifth largest in the Caribbean. For now, it contains just a handful of small lodges and inns, along with the Tiamo and Kamalame Cay resorts.
After holding off during the global financial crisis, House and his international team feel that the time is right to launch the 10- to 15-year phased project, targeted for the north-east coast of South Andros, between Driggs Hill and Congo Town.
The government is presently considering a proposal, master plan and draft heads of agreement that House and his team have put before it. House said he is confident about the prospects for receiving conditional approvals.
"It's been a lot of work, a lot of planning in getting the concept together. I've given it a three- or four-year wide berth because of the international investment market. I'm ready to go now, we are ready to try to conclude issues," said House.
SAICL owns outright the 600 acres in South Andros, and has for over twenty years, providing House with the freedom from financier-related pressure to hold off until the ideal time.
In addition to "two major international hotels" and two "boutique" hotels of around 40 to 50 rooms each, and residential units ranging from standalone beach front luxury villas to townhouses and condos, some of the proposal's more unique features include plans to utilize renewable power generation in the form of a solar field; to integrate the latest materials and most advanced technology into the project; to highlight the many blue holes and to capitalize on the resort's proximity to the world's third-largest great barrier reef, located just a few hundred yards from the proposed resort's beach.
"The architect has designed the project around highlighting the prominence of the blue holes. We're trying to package The Bahamas in with the project, to sell us and sell The Bahamas," said House.
A golf course is also being proposed for the project, which House describes as "exciting in the way it's been conceived, as it runs through the project, creating greenery and interest throughout".
The master plan has been prepared by a Madrid-based architectural firm with extensive resort, hotel and hospitality credentials. It is headed by Carlos Langdon-Ruiz, who leads a team of international and Bahamian professionals, said House, including Gleeds, an international management and construction consultancy; European Golf Design, owned by the European Tour and IMG; Sunco Builders & Developers, Islands By Design; and others.
The team has been assembled by SAICL to conceive and deliver the project to "the highest standards", with the intention of creating a community that can "function autonomously while paying special regard to maintaining and enhancing the integrity of the environment," said House.
"The ecology of the site and immediate vicinity will be treated with sensitivity to maximize awareness of the location and setting, further guaranteeing the long-term protection of the immediate environs and enhancing the prominence, quality and desirability of the project, enhanced by the architect's low rise - 'nothing higher than a palm tree' - vision," he added.
Meanwhile, the developer said he has high hopes that the resort can help to stimulate more local economic activity, particularly in the area of agriculture, with this having positive spillover effects for The Bahamas at large.
"We would like to be very geared towards self sufficiency in agriculture and other products/services. We want to be able to get local people to provide us with those things.
"We really want to bring businesses forward to service us and the country in general, and the land is there to allow some of these things to develop very nicely," he said.
House said he has some "serious funding in the wings" into which he is proposing to tap.
"I can consider one or two options to use - one route has not been done yet - which are quite exciting and will bring another party into the Caribbean arena who is not active yet," he said.
House has estimated that an annual average of 500 construction jobs will be created over the phased program, culminating in 1,000 plus jobs in operations/management on completion.
The developer plans to visit Nassau again in February to further advance the proposal.
NEW YORK CITY, New York -- When the famed ball dropped in Times Square ushering in a new year of hope and promise, it was more than just the 2,688 Waterford Crystals that shone - it was a waterfront development in The Bahamas that flashed on the huge screen as an estimated one billion people around the world watched.
The development was Nassau's Palm Cay and for New Year's Eve revelers pulling scarves and loved ones closer to battle the bitter cold, the sight of townhomes and palm trees on a stretch of white sandy beach with a view of the clear blue sky and turquoise sea sparked dreams of paradise.
The unexpected appearance of the award-winning community with two short words on the screen, Palm Cay, and the website, Palmcay.com, was part of an ongoing ad campaign that between December 27 and February 1 will be viewed by 1.5 million people a day.
For Palm Cay, which was recently awarded the first ever Developer of the Year Award by the Bahamas Contractors Association, the exposure was the highlight of an ongoing drive to draw attention to its $200 million fully-funded family-oriented active community with a wide array of residential options, 194-slip marina, and more.
But for The Bahamas, it was - and continues to be - among the best exposure the country has ever had and at no cost to the government.
The Bahamas Bowling Federation has named its 10-member team to compete at the upcoming Tournament of the Americas at Sawgrass Lanes Tamarac, Florida, after the recent team trials at Mario's Bowling & Entertainment Palace.
The team, which includes competitors in the adult men's and ladies' categories, seniors men's and ladies' categories, and a super senior men's category, will participate in the tournament from July 29 to August 4.
Leading the way in the adult men's division are Lee Davis and Johann Pyfrom, with scoring averages of 204 and 188 respectively. In the adult ladies' category, Driskell Rolle's 171 average bested teammate Camille Burnside's 165. Representing the senior men's for The Bahamas is former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Sonith Lockhart, with a 191 average. His teammate in that division is Charles Isaacs, who finished the tournament with a 186 scoring average. Representing the country in the Senior Ladies' Category is Marina McClain with a 170 average, followed very closely by Angela Smith's 168 score.
Also on the team in the super senior men's division are Leon Graham, a former doubles gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games. He has a 178 scoring average and will team up with Philip Bethel, who had an average of 181.
The new treasurer of the federation, Clayton Gardiner said in an interview that he hopes to see bowling become one of the core sports in the country. He also would like to see all bowling leagues, such as the City Bowling League, Financial Bowling League and the Banker's League, come under one umbrella.
"Our desire is to take bowling back to where it use to be in The Bahamas and beyond that. More and more persons are bowling, but it is our jobs to get the level of intensity that we see in other sports like softball into the bowling arena. And I believe we would be able to compete with the other disciplines," Gardiner said.