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Vowing that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) will "put Bahamians back to work", PLP Deputy Leader Philip Brave Davis said in Grand Bahama on Friday night the party would "raise work permit fees for jobs Bahamians are qualified to perform" if it wins the next general election.
"We are ready to revive Grand Bahama," said Davis during his party's formal introduction of its Grand Bahama candidates at Our Lucaya Resort.
Davis said the PLP would establish a program to identify Bahamians who are qualified to fill jobs when work permits that are now granted expire.
He added, "We will significantly cut taxes at the airport and harbor.
"The PLP will reduce hotel taxes by 50 percent for a period of five years for existing hotels and 10 years for new hotels in Grand Bahama.
"You can hold us to that. We are serious about bringing about a rebirth on this island."
Davis also said a PLP government would promote local entertainment on Grand Bahama.
"We will provide incentives and technical support for restaurants, nightclubs, local craft markets and support to develop bed and breakfast lodgings," he said. "We will awaken this magic city."
Davis said a PLP government would also provide incentives and subsidies for airlift of tourists to Grand Bahama, including targeted scheduled flights and charters for the provision of airlift for seasonal and event-related tourism.
"Your next PLP government will upgrade the Grand Bahama Island Promotion Board, to improve promotion of Grand Bahama in international markets," he said, vowing that, "It is Grand Bahama's time."
Davis also announced that the PLP is committed to extending duty free concessions to East and West Grand Bahama.
He said Grand Bahamians must decide whether they want to continue on the FNM's path of "job losses and failed opportunities".
"The better choice is the PLP with plans for job creation and empowerment that will put you first," he said.
The PLP currently has only one MP in Grand Bahama, Obie Wilchcombe, who represents West End and Bimini.
The other five existing seats in Grand Bahama are all held by the Free National Movement.
After the next election, there will be five seats in Grand Bahama, as a result of boundary cuts.
The PLP will again run Wilchcombe in West End and Bimini.
It will also run Julian Russell (Central Grand Bahama); Tanisha Tynes (East Grand Bahama); Gregory Moss (Marco City) and Michael Darville (Pineridge).
Davis urged Grand Bahamians "to come home with the PLP".
"Come with us as we set a course to put Bahamians back to work," he said.
"Come with us as we point young Bahamians into an era of prosperity and growth.
"Come with us as we build our nation and restore opportunity to the thousands of our countrymen and women."
Baha Mar, the $3.5 billion integrated gaming resort opening in the spring of 2015, is introducing the first four signature restaurants of its highly-anticipated culinary experiences. The resort's food and beverage selections complement an elite collection of hotel brands - The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Grand Hyatt and SLS LUX - as well as a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and ESPA spa, among other remarkable experiences.
Deuce, Katsuya, Brasserie des Arts and Shuang Ba are part of the best in global cuisine curated through the 40 restaurants, bars and clubs at Baha Mar. They are the signature, bespoke experiences located at the heart of the resort, in and around the 100,000-square-foot Las Vegas-style Baha Mar Casino. Featuring 30-foot floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the clearest waters in the world, The Baha Mar Casino revolutionizes traditional casino design, and provides guests of these signature restaurants the choice of being steps away from the fast-paced energy of the casino floor or retreating to quiet tables overlooking the breathtaking turquoise waters of The Bahamas.
"The selection of these restaurants as our signature offerings is very simple; they are my favorite from around the world. Baha Mar is about an authentic experience, and our restaurants are no exception. Our guests can select from several options for dining from high-end to more casual fare," said Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar's chairman and CEO. "Deuce, Katsuya, Brasserie des Arts and Shuang Ba will be centered around the most discerning guests' needs. Whether delivering to players right at the casino high limit rooms, or offering private dining rooms within the restaurants themselves, our mission is to ensure superior dining, world-class service and authentic Bahamian charm."
Deuce takes its name for being only the second location of Bone's, the award-winning Atlanta steakhouse that has been providing the finest steaks and seafood since 1979. Long recognized as the best steakhouse in Atlanta, Bone's is also ranked by Zagat Survey as highest in food and service of any steakhouse in America. In keeping with Baha Mar's commitment to an elevated level of dining, as well as attentive, intuitive, world-class service, Deuce is a perfect choice.
Deuce consists of more than 350 seats and will be the largest restaurant at Baha Mar. In addition to private dining rooms, Deuce offers a superb dining experience in its beautifully-crafted interior dining area, mezzanine and patio. The restaurant will feature interior designs by the celebrated Johnson Studio, an Atlanta-based architecture and design firm noted for creating extraordinary spaces that connect food to one-of-a-kind experiences.
Katsuya is an internationally renowned contemporary Asian restaurant that has been hailed for its innovative interpretations of classic Japanese cuisine and inventive cocktails. Katsuya has garnered a loyal following for its culinary offerings as well as its distinct, sleek architectural designs by French design icon Philippe Stark. Widely known as a favorite of locals and celebrities alike in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, South Beach and Dubai, the 250-seat restaurant at Baha Mar will be home to Katsuya's eighth location. This exciting restaurant, a signature dining experience at SLS hotels, is expected to attract celebrities and critics alike in search of the culinary artistry of Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi.
Baha Mar will be home to the fourth location of Brasserie des Arts, the chic restaurant and lounge which is also found in Sa?o Paulo, Brazil and two locations in France - Megeve and Saint Tropez, where it was voted one of the best places to eat by Elle magazine. The 200-seat establishment will offer an authentic taste of fine French cuisine created by classically trained French chefs. Brasserie Des Arts will include indoor and outdoor seating extending to an elegant terrace overlooking the white-sand beach and a DJ for late night entertainment.
Shuang Ba takes guests on a journey of classic and modern Chinese cuisine in an elegant setting. Representing the figure 88, which signifies "double fortune" in Chinese culture, Shuang Ba is designed to ensure good luck extends from this 88-seat restaurant to the casino floor. With sophisticated private dining salons draped in shades of rich woods, gold and jade, guests will be provided with exclusive experiences that will cater to every need prepared by our culinary team directly from China. The central dining salon features a grand liquor case in the shape of a moon gate, surrounded by warm wood elements and pops of red. Large circular dining tables give diners the view of a marvelous 30,000-pound hand-carved Chinese stone column, and traditional screens and artifacts sourced directly from China complete the exquisite setting.
China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) signed a contract yesterday to purchase the British Colonial Hilton and the vacant property to its west, but officials did not reveal the price of the sale agreement.
This comes after almost two years of negotiations.
As a part of the sale agreement, CSCEC will develop the vacant property to create a luxury hotel and condominium unit, Prime Minister Perry Christie said.
He did not give a start or completion date for the construction of the project.
The hotel will also include a multi-storied garage with rooftop garden and banquet rooms, a high-end retail shopping center, restaurants, gym, marina, movie theater and boardwalk along the waterfront.
Christie said it will be a major investment that will create 250 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs for Bahamians.
He said an additional 500 jobs in the amenities and commercial components will be created.
He also said CSCEC has agreed to join in a partnership with the government and other stakeholders along Bay Street to implement a plan for its redevelopment, extending from Arawak Cay to Potter's Cay.
"Some of these stakeholders with whom I will meet in the next fortnight are ready to move ahead with their redevelopment plans," Christie said.
During the signing ceremony at the British Colonial, Chinese delegates joined Hilton and Bahamian government officials.
While the ownership has changed, the hotel will continue to be managed by the Hilton.
Gerhard Beukes, chairman of the British Colonial Hilton said all employees of the Hilton will continue their employment under the new ownership.
Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas Yuan Guisen said this investment in The Bahamas is one of several he hopes the government will facilitate in the future.
CSCEC Chairman Jun Yi said the project should contribute $750 million to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) over the next 20 years.
CSCEC began its foray into tourism developments globally with the Baha Mar project, investing $150 million in the $3.5 billion resort, which it went on to build.
In July, CSCEC made a U.S. $1 billion investment in the Viceroy Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, a project for which it was also taken on as general contractor.
Scores of students who call the Elizabeth Estates Children's Home their home are returning to school this fall semester equipped to take on another year of classroom learning thanks to Team Mosaic.
In an effort to give back and show their love and appreciation for the Bahamian community, team members from Mosaic Restaurant banded together and hosted a back-to-school drive in support of the youngsters at the home.
"We at Mosaic -- Front of House division -- have committed ourselves to the effort of giving back and we all agreed that the best focus we can have is on our nation's youth, the future of this great country called The Bahamas," said restaurant manager, Shawn Saunders.
"Back-to-school is an important time for so many youngsters. We all fully understand that our economy is still in the process of recovering and so we decided to put our attention to those youngsters who are less fortunate, specifically those at the Elizabeth Estates Children's Home, and help them prepare for the start of another school year," he said.
Book bags, books, pens, pencils, pens, rulers crayons and notepads were among the items donated to the thankful youngsters and staff.
"We all firmly believe that if you willingly give from the heart, the benefits are bountiful and bountiful were the smiles on the faces of those kids. Both the kids and their guardians expressed a high sense of gratitude which we truly appreciated. This is what can happen when we all come together for one goal," said Saunders.
The Pointe gives back
Although small in size, the team at The Pointe decided to lend a helping hand and give back to the community through a donation of school supplies to Great Commission Ministries located on Wulff Road.
Great Commission Ministries is an organization which assists the less fortunate on a daily basis wherever possible. The donation is the team's way of making a positive impact, albeit a small one, in the community.
The government has set July 1, 2014 as the date for the biggest change to the Bahamian tax system in recent memory. It plans to bring forward a value-added tax (VAT), to create a central revenue service and to cut many customs duty rates.
To inform the people of what will take place the government has published a white paper on VAT that is available for all to see on its website. The government has also pledged a significant public relations campaign to help educate the Bahamian people on the proposed new tax.
The government will have challenges with this education effort. In its white paper, it admits that VAT is one of the more complicated taxes. It involves multi level taxation up the chain of production and distribution and it also includes rebates for some.
The Bahamas has challenges with education. The public school system in New Providence has an average in the national exams somewhere not too far from an F. The technical language of the white paper is inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of our population.
Sweeping tax reform requires the understanding and consent of the people. If the people think something they don't understand is being forced on them, and it leads to a higher cost of living, the political party that did the deed will pay at the polls. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration should know this.
While one challenge for the administration will simply be breaking VAT down for regular Bahamians to understand, there are some fundamental questions that will be asked by those who do understand. These are questions the white paper does not answer.
It remains unclear how the imposition of VAT will impact the cost of goods and services across the board.
In fact, the white paper acknowledges that the government is unable at this time to indicate comprehensively either way.
"The effect of VAT on prices will vary as between goods and services and, within the goods category, the effect will depend on the current taxation of individual goods.
The final impact on the price of goods will depend on the extent of reductions in import tariff rates flowing from accession to the WTO," according to the white paper.
The government attempts to reassure the public by saying that agricultural, food and certain other products that currently benefit from duty free status under the Tariff Act will also be exempt from VAT.
"Similarly, the services also proposed to be exempt from VAT, such as health and education services, etc., should experience no direct change in price under a VAT system," the white paper adds.
However, Bahamians will simply want to know how much more expensive items at the grocery store will be as a result of this proposed change. How much more expensive will clothing and electronics be? Is there a tax for using the already expensive services of lawyers? Will there be a 15 percent tax at restaurants on top of the 15 percent charged for gratuity?
To answer some of these questions, the government would have to announce its full range of cuts to customs duties. Other answers may be so unacceptable to the people that the government may have to alter its position.
When the official education campaign begins, business owners and professionals will have many questions for the government and its representatives, as will concerned citizens who can understand the magnitude of the change. It is necessary for the government to ensure that it works out the answers to the obvious questions Bahamians will ask before it starts the talking and education tour.
Prime Minister Perry Christie led the government's communications effort on gambling. He was not well versed on the subject. He confused the issue and said things that were contradictory. The people noticed and rejected the referendum - an initiative the governing party hoped Bahamians would support.
Government bureaucrats and the PLP should not just assume Bahamians will accept VAT because international advisory agencies said we should try it. The people have to think it is better for them and the country. They know little of the details of this move now. If this tax reform is to succeed they must know more and agree to it by the implementation date.
FOUR Bahamian businesses - a restaurant and three luxury retailers recently came up winners in the MasterCard-Ministry of Tourism 'Find Your Way' initiative, walking away with an early Christmas present of cash from the international credit and debit card company for being number one in the increase of MasterCard sales volume for the month.
The most recent winners were the Kafe Kalik restaurant at Lynden Pindling International Airport, Carlo Milano and Effy Jewellers of Bay Street, and A la Plage, Marina Village, Paradise Island. Each received international recognition and a cheque for $1,000, rewarding them for their performance.
"The outstanding performance of our winning merchant ...
The Island House, a 30-room boutique hotel under construction on western New Providence, is progressing smoothly, according to Project Manager Lauren Holowesko.
With the project on track for an early 2015 opening, Holowesko said the sense of excitement is mounting as a number of its distinctive features begin to take shape.
"The project is really coming together," she said. "The majority of the rooms are in advanced or final stages, with some only awaiting fixtures and furniture. The utilities are all in place and the bathrooms are currently being outfitted.
"Best of all, we are now moving ahead with several of the elements that will make The Island House (TIH) stand out as unique - like the cinema, roof-top lounge and our collection of original local artwork."
Holowesko said TIH will stand out among Nassau resorts, having been designed with both visitors and the local community in mind, and as a symbiotic extension of the surrounding environment.
"We want to offer our guests an intimate and authentic experience they can't find at the bigger, more mainstream resorts; one that merges the height of contemporary luxury with the unaffected elegance of authentic island life.
"At the same time, we want TIH to become a cultural gathering space for locals and visitors alike. For example, our 48-seater theater will be open to the community and feature mainstream but also art house films and independent Caribbean productions. The versatile space will also play host to art exhibitions, seminars and speaking events."
Holowesko added that an ongoing call for artwork submissions aims to highlight young and emerging Bahamian talents as well as well-known local masters, the aim being to feature original work not just in the hotel's common areas, but also in every room.
"We are also employing an eco-conscious approach to hospitality. Indigenous plant life and natural elements will be featured throughout the hotel," she said.
"Our approach was born of an understanding that boutique hotels are a necessary component of the future growth and diversification our tourism product, in line with the global trend towards more intimate, eco-friendly resort options."
When completed, TIH will feature six rental apartments, two restaurants, a cafe, spa, gym, squash and paddle courts and movement studio for fitness classes.
The Baha Mar resort is 85 percent complete, with major work picking up pace, Baha Mar Senior Vice President of Administration and External Affairs Robert "Sandy" Sands said yesterday.
"We are going to be working towards previews for December," said Sands at Hole 16 of the resort's Royal Blue Golf Course.
"That in itself should tell you how far advanced we are. We are making significant progress on a daily basis."
Resort officials announced in August that the hotel's opening will be delayed from December 2014 to Spring 2015.
"Our booking engine went live on September 15, so we are now actually taking reservations as of June 1," he said.
"That date can change and be advanced at any time.
"So we are taking real bookings for paid guests at this point in time."
During the tour, Sands pointed to a significant increase in the number of Bahamians who work at the resort.
He said nearly 1,500 Bahamians work at the site in various posts, including construction, the highest number
since work began on the $3.5 billion resort.
"You wouldn't want to see this place in a few months," Sands added.
Speaking of the 18-hole, par-72 Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course.
"It's breathtaking and what it also does is it captures the beauty of The Bahamas," he said.
"It also captures the natural environment. It shows the elevation of the golf course and it adds that intensity and challenge to the players once they get to this location.
"This is indeed an iconic location for Baha Mar and we are extremely proud of it."
Sands said there has been significant interest from professional golfing organizations in the course, which will open simultaneously with the resort.
The course is expected to be an attraction in and of itself, he pointed out.
But Sands said Baha Mar is more focused on coexisting with Atlantis.
"We will work to complement each other," he said.
"Together we will continue to raise the profile of The Bahamas.
"Our combined marketing dollars in the market place will also give exposure and equity to The Bahamas brand as well as our individual brand.
"So we have to stop thinking about competition and start thinking about complementarity and the development, holistically, of The Bahamas."
The resort has hired Bahamian artist John Cox as its creative arts director and aims to put local art at the forefront of its design.
Baha Mar's local art alliances include The D'Aguilar Art Foundation, The Dawn Davies Collection and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.
The resort's amenities will include a 100,000 square-foot casino, the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, the ESPA at Baha Mar spa and more than a dozen pools.
Other attractions will include 50,000 square feet of high-end retail and shopping, and over 30 restaurants, bars and lounges.
The resort will also include 200,000 square feet of combined state-of-the-art convention facilities, including a 2,000-seat performing arts center and an art gallery with the largest curated collection of Bahamian art; a beachfront sanctuary with native Bahamian flora and fauna, and a private island.
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Following the successful re-launch of the iconic Traveller's Restaurant on West Bay Street, investor Jaime Dingman is setting his sights on revitalizing the downtown Nassau experience with the opening of Island Smokehouse.
Bahamian resident Dingman said he wants the new restaurant to be a cornerstone of the effort to re-attract both tourists and locals to the once flourishing Bay Street.
"We are excited about Island Smokehouse and the team who are creating a great environment and fabulous food for our customers," said Dingman. "Service is of paramount importance to us and we want our customers to have an enjoyable and positive experience. Our focus is to provide an excellent dining spot known for fabulous food and service. We are creating a community gathering-place that will contribute toward revitalizing our city."
As part of this effort, Dingman has brought in star chef Chaz Brown to lend his trademark passion and a wealth of international experience.
A former Mid-Atlantic Chef of the Year and contestant on Bravo's Top Chef Season 9, the spirited, energetic and innovative Chaz has launched a new menu combining local Caribbean flavors with Texas barbeque cooking techniques.
Salt -- it makes all foods taste really good, including a little sprinkle on slices of cantaloupe melon to bring out the sweetness -- and most people use it quite liberally. Actually most Bahamians intake more sodium [salt] than is recommended for a healthy diet, and that could lead to serious health problems, according to a family medical practitioner. Dr. Patrick Whitfield says too much sodium increases a person's risk for high blood pressure and that he said often leads to heart disease and stroke.
Dr. Whitfield, who practices out of the Oxford Medical Center, says heart attacks, heart failure, strokes and kidney failure are outcomes of high blood pressure and that collectively it has an enormous impact on premature death and disability in Bahamians.
"Most people eat on average about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day. The United States dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams (1 teaspoon) per day and recommends that about six in 10 adults -- people who are 51 years or older, people with high blood pressure in all age groups, people with diabetes and people with chronic kidney disease -- should further limit their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day [about two-thirds of a teaspoon]," said Dr. Whitfield.
According to the doctor, the amounts listed are upper limits and less is usually best, even though the body does need some sodium to help it to function properly. Sodium helps to maintain the right balance of fluids in the body, helps transmit nerve impulses and influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
He said most Bahamians can benefit from reducing their sodium intake, and they can do so by eating more fresh foods, opting for low-sodium products, removing salt from recipes whenever possible, limiting the use of sodium-laden condiments, using herbs, spices and other flavorings to season foods and using salt substitutes wisely.
According to Dr. Whitfield, most of the sodium people eat comes from processed foods and foods prepared in restaurants, and that as salt is already part of the processed foods it cannot be removed.
He encourages people who want to control their sodium intake to be savvy shoppers, and know which foods to limit or avoid such as fast food cheeseburgers, barbecued ribs and chicken, dairy products such as cottage cheese, canned soups, and sauces (soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickles and olives which he said can add a lot of salt to food), nuts and vegetables. Snacks such as pretzels and chips he said should also be limited or avoided. Flour-based products such as bread, bagels, bakery items like pies and cookies he said should be consumed in moderation. Pizza and deli meats, frozen dinners and vegetable juices he also said should be limited.
The doctor encouraged people to enjoy more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods. And he encouraged the consumption of more whole grain products like fish, poultry and nuts. An alternative to salt he said is to add spices, herbs and pepper as an alternative to perk up the flavor of foods.
"When shopping, people should look to purchase fresh, frozen or canned vegetables without added salt most often."
He also encourages people to read nutrition labels and compare the amount of sodium in the processed food like frozen dinners, packaged mixes, cereals, breads, soups, salad dressing and sauces, as the amount in different types and brands vary widely. He said people should look for labels that read low sodium or no sodium.
A rundown on common sodium claims, according to the mayoclinic.com shows that sodium-free or salt free means that each serving of a product contains less than 5 milligrams of sodium. Very low sodium means each serving contains 35 milligrams of sodium or less. Reduced or less sodium means the product contains at least 25 percent less sodium than the regular version. Lite or light in sodium means the sodium content has been reduced by at least 50 percent from the regular version, and unsalted or no salt added means that no salt is added during the processing of a food that normally contains salt.
When eating out, Dr. Whitfield encourages people to choose plain foods like grilled or roasted entrees, baked potatoes and salad with oil and vinegar. He said batter-fried foods and combination dishes like stews or pasta with sauce tend to be high in salt.
As salt is an acquired taste, the doctor said people can learn to enjoy less. And that their taste buds will adjust as they decrease their use of salt gradually. After a few weeks of cutting back on salt, he says you probably won't miss it, and some foods may even taste too salty.