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Every hotel in Nassau "will be full" come Thanksgiving 2011, an Atlantis' top executive has predicted, as the resort celebrates the Bahamas achieving NCAA 'exempt status', which will pave the way for it to host a major pre-season college basketball tournament.
Kerzner International (Bahamas) president and managing director, George Markantonis, said the 'Battle 4 Atlantis' event will boost employment levels at the resort during the traditionally slower
There's some more good news emerging for the country's tourism product, as numbers projected for this year for medium-sized hotels are encouraging, according to top executives.
These hotels, such as the British Colonial Hilton, Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and Casino and the Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino, have been experiencing promising forecasts since December 2011.
"We are hoping that the amount of inquiries to our call center continue, because it means that all could go well for an industry that has been somewhat stagnant for a long period of time. So we are very encouraged by those results," said Robert Sands, senior vice president of Administration and External Affairs at Baha Mar.
The British Colonial Hilton not only ended 2011 strong, but 2012's first quarter is looking to be even stronger.
The resort's marketing manager, Latoya Moxey, told Guardian Business the keys to high occupancy levels are open communication and the maintenance of healthy relationships between the resort and tour operators.
Moxey said the Hilton is looking forward to a very healthy 2012.
"As the Hilton is a hotel that is driven by corporate-related business, we are seeing substantial growth in that area. We are also expected to experience steady growth in the leisure sector. So far, everything is looking positive," Moxey shared.
Presently the Hilton is undergoing some minor upgrades, all in an effort to provide the best product for its guests.
Upgrades to the property will include room renovations, refurbishments to the exterior and brand new beach furniture.
"We have just incorporated some really fancy, chic beach furniture. We are getting rave reviews about the furniture already from guests, both local and international. We are also working on smaller renovations to some of our rooms," Moxey said.
In 2009, the resort underwent major renovations totaling $15 million, something Moxey said is not necessary this time around.
"There will be very small upgrades because the property is almost 100 percent complete with those necessary changes. This is why this time around, we are not spending as much because most changes occurred during our major facelift in 2009," she noted.
She also shared with Guardian Business how the resort is getting ready to add a special feature that local professionals can benefit from.
It is an initiative Moxey revealed the Hilton is very excited about.
"We are getting ready to launch our beach club. It's going to be geared towards middle to upper working class locals. We will be giving you a lot of amenities to stay on the property, similar to what you would receive as a club member in a gated community. It's something that is convenient in the downtown area," she said.
Meanwhile, hotels like the Marley Resort, Best Western, the Paradise Island Beach Club and the Graycliff Hotel & Restaurant are also reporting promising numbers.
Executive Director at the Association of Nassau Hotels Joel Grossman shared those numbers with Guardian Business.
"When the Marley Resort first opened, only 14 rooms were occupied. It was not doing well at all. During the month of December, they literally had no rooms available and I don't think they have any rooms in January," Grossman said.
"Best Western does incredibly well because they have a good corporate base that has yearly and monthly rentals.
"Paradise Island Beach Club does well because of its time share and runs about 90 per cent occupancy. It's the same thing with Paradise Island Harbor Club and Marina, its occupancy is around 85 per cent year round. Some of the larger hotels would love to be able to say that.
"Graycliff gets a lot of Europeans going there because its downtown. Though it's not located on the beach, they average around 75 per cent year round. However, they make up for it when people have lunch and dinner at their restaurant."
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
MEDIUM-sized Nassau hotels have seen business levels exceed expectations, with occupancies up between 4-7 percentage points, and exclusive properties such as Graycliff and the Paradise Island Beach Club enjoying between 75-90 per cent yearly averages.
Baha Mar's senior vice-president of government and external Affairs, Robert Sands, said medium-sized properties such as his company's Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino and Wyndham, plus the British Colonial Hilton, have seen an unprecedented level of business - exceeding initial projections - since December.
"The medium-sized hotels, the Sheraton, ...