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Hundreds of travel agents will descend on Sandals Royal Bahamian and Sandals Emerald Bay in the coming week as the resorts continue their travel agent familiarization season (Mega-Fam).
By the end of December each resort would have hosted approximately 1,200 travel agents.
Santa and Resorts World Bimini bring smiles to Bimini's children at the island's annual Christmas festival
BIMINI, The Bahamas -- Hundreds of Bimini's children were whipped into a frenzy of excitement as Santa Claus and his Resorts World Bimini (RWB) helpers arrived at the Alice Town Craft Center aboard a tram loaded with toys and gifts. The arrival of the big guy and his goodies was the highlight of the island's annual Christmas festival - at least from the standpoint of the children in attendance.
RWB partnered with the Ministry of Tourism to play Santa Claus for the island's children during the event which brought together the entire community to kick off the Christmas season. The festival began with singing, dancing and other acts by local performers. It ended with the pulsating beat of the Junkanoo drums, inciting fancy footwork and cowbell shaking from RWB managers and staffers who joined in the rush out, much to the delight of the community. However for the children attending the event, the real excitement began with the announcement "Here comes Santa Claus!" as the RWB tram slowly approached the Craft Center.
As expected, Santa received a 'rock star' reception from the children, several of whom got to take a photo with him. It took much effort to bring the eager bunch to order as they were presented with toys according to age group and gender courtesy of RWB, which invested tens of thousands of dollars in the goodwill gesture.
"It was such a joy to see the faces of the children light up as they received their gifts," says RWB General Manager Ray Valentino. "I don't think anyone could have expected such an incredible response. We at Resorts World Bimini are thankful for the opportunity to bring some cheer this holiday season, and we look forward to even more on the horizon as we partner with the people of Bimini to improve the quality of life on the island."
A Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) official suggested yesterday that Atlantis and Baha Mar representatives reported challenges in finding Bahamians to fill job vacancies at their resorts in a bid to get the government to sign off on additional work permits.
"I believe they are trying to make a case early, because the first thing an investor will say is, 'We can't find suitable or qualified persons, therefore we need 'x' amount of work permits,'" BCHAWU General Secretary Darren Woods said.
"To say there is a shortage in terms of skilled people - cooks, painters and stewarding personnel - is a concern for us, and I definitely doubt that is accurate because we would have heard that cry from Atlantis as mandated by the industrial agreement."
George Markantonis, president and managing director of Atlantis, said last week that on any given day the mega resort has 300 to 400 vacancies.
Markantonis insisted, "we cannot get people for" many positions the company has advertised online. Those positions include cooks, painters, a kids facility manager, an IT service support manager, a concierge and an assistant director of marine mammals.
According to Kristen Wells, the director of the Baha Mar Academy, the up-and-coming mega resort is "hard pressed" to fill thousands of positions needed by the end of the next year when the resort is slated to open.
She said Baha Mar is faced with traditional shortages in professions like food and beverage, wait staff, restaurant managers, assistant restaurant managers, front and back of house and room supervision.
Woods said Wells' and Markantonis' comments came as a complete surprise. He said many of the 800 or so people Atlantis made redundant in 2008 are still unemployed.
Woods noted the union's industrial agreement dictates that the resort inform the union of job vacancies. The union in turn provides recommendations for suitable candidates.
Last month, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell told Parliament that in the interest of protecting Bahamian jobs, the government plans to cease issuing work permits for maids, housekeepers and laborers with a year.
Yesterday, he called the disclosures by the two resorts "incredible", particularly as the work permit debate between the private sector and the government escalates.
"That's an incredible thing for an employer to say and so both the government and the private sector have to determine why that is, and see whether those vacancies can be filled," Mitchell responded yesterday.
"I sent a note to the vice president of human resources at...Atlantis, saying this here is a young man sitting before me.
"His qualifications are master's degree in business administration [and a] bachelor's degree in computer technology and you say you have perhaps 600 vacancies.
"Why is this young man not able to get a job at Atlantis? What's the reason?"
Mitchell insisted if there is a Bahamian available for a job, a Bahamian should get that job. He said a work permit is not going to be issued.
Woods said the union is still trying to assist the 140 former Baha Mar workers, who were laid off in February. He said Baha Mar should recognize those Bahamians are "very skilled" long-term workers.
However, in the deeds of release agreement Baha Mar stipulated that those workers are "barred from seeking or obtaining employment with [Baha Mar] during the 18 months following the effective date".
Woods said the union is still negotiating with Baha Mar to have that clause removed. He said the union does not oppose foreigners occupying jobs provided that no Bahamian can fill those jobs.
He added that the union intends to write to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Immigration requesting an investigation into Baha Mar's and Atlantis' claims.
Nassau, Bahamas - One
year after launching Sandals Earthguard powered by EarthCheck, Sandals
Resorts International has begun to realise a reduction in the company's
environmental footprint, improved operational efficiencies and increased
benefits to the company's host communities. Sandals' flagship property
in the Bahamas, Sandals Royal Bahamian has just been awarded a silver
rating by EarthCheck, benefiting from the group's environmental
Across all resorts, water from ice machines is recycled and used for
irrigation purposes and the company also recycles paper, cardboard,
glass and plastic bottles. In the energy management sphere, the
organisation has introduced 'intelligent rooms'
Sandals Resorts has introduced a new wedding planning concept that give couples the
opportunity to add their personality and style to their wedding
all-inclusive resorts for couples which operates 14 luxury resort
properties across the Caribbean including Sandals Emerald Bay, Exuma and
Sandals Royal Bahamian, Cable Beach in the Bahamas.
Launched its all
'Your Wedding Your Style' wedding planning concept
which now allows couples to customize their dream wedding at the resort...
Resorts and hoteliers are pumping more cash into marketing, advertising and promotions in 2012 in an effort to keep the forward momentum going.
"There is no letting up on the promotions in terms of investment," said David Johnson, the director general at the Ministry of Tourism. "A number of stakeholders are boosting their marketing resources to stimulate sales as much as possible. With the late booking environment we're in, you can't afford to go dark. You have to remind people constantly of what you have."
In fact, the Ministry of Tourism and its various promotional boards have just approved the popular companion fly free program. Johnson told Guardian Business it continues to play a crucial role in attracting arrivals, and converted into dollars and cents, he said it translates into $250 in savings for those who stay three nights or less, and $400 for tourists traveling for four nights or more.
"So far it has worked. We are assured to have a strong winter. Our business has trended upwards since December," he added.
According to preliminary statistics from The Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, December 2011 saw an occupancy rate of 58.3 percent compared to 55 percent the previous year.
Room nights sold rose by 5.1 percent and hotel room revenue went up 6.5 percent year-on-year.
Stuart Bowe, the president of the BHA, said it's essential for hotels to increase revenue, as operating costs rise and resorts are forced to make large capital expenditures to remain competitive.
He echoed Johnson's sentiments that more focus on marketing and joint promotional and product improvement efforts have led to improved numbers in December 2011 and so far into this year.
"We are seeing the value of our strong marketing and promotional initiatives which are resonating well in the marketplace," he added. "These have been underway for two years and each year we have seen incremental progress. We are also pleased to see some of the highest customer satisfaction levels reported in years, with visitors citing overall improvements in the experience and appearance of our islands."
Bowe also noted the length of stay continues to rise for arrivals into Nassau, partly attributed to the new packages on offer but also the nature of the tourist.
Arrivals from Latin America, for example, comprise a different breed that tends to splash out for longer holidays.
In terms of 2011 as a whole, occupancy rate came in at 63.9 percent compared to 62.6 percent the previous year. Room nights sold improved 1.3 percent and room revenue spiked 3.1 percent.
Preliminary air arrivals to Nassau to the end of October last year were down 3.3 percent.
Bowe and other tourism leaders are predicting that 2012 could be the year that arrivals and occupancy levels return to pre-recession levels.
BIMINI - Resorts World Bimini has announced a partnership with Bimini Big Game Club and Marina to host Wahoo Smackdown III - the popular fishing tournament that takes place on Bimini each November.
Scheduled for Thursday, November 21 to Saturday, November 23, this year's tournament promises to be just as successful as the two previous Smackdowns, which saw more than 150 anglers land over 6,000 pounds of wahoo. This year's first place prize is $5,000, followed by $1,500 for second and $1,000 for third. The largest catch prize is $2,500.
"We're honored to be the co-host of such an exciting event," said Dana Leibovitz, president of Resorts World Bimini.
"Wahoo Smackdown tournaments are known to bring some of the best anglers in the world to Bimini, the sports fishing capital of the World - a combination that could easily lead to a world record or two being broken."
Bimini's popularity as a sports fisherman's haven is due to its location along the Gulf Stream, which teems with migrating fish. The crystal clear waters are a fisherman's paradise, no matter what type of fishing is preferred.
Last year's big winner was Team Fishin A Loan, Frank Roach, Kevin Marsh, Billy Thomas and Dillon Kemp, who took home $7,500 in cash and prizes, landing 334.7 pounds of wahoo and the tournament's largest single catch (96.7 pounds). Among the notables who attended the tournament were writer John Hemingway (grandson of novelist Ernest Hemingway), and Nashville recording artist Craig Morgan, who was on the island filming a segment for his outdoor cable TV show.
I am a proud Biminite who stands in support of the development at Resorts World Bimini. As a pastor of a local church, I often share with my congregation the big picture that people miss. For a very long time, the opportunities available to Biminites have been sorely lacking, and it has hurt us as a community. When you don't have sustainable economic opportunities, you lose members of your family, which is what has been happening here in Bimini for too many generations. I can use my family as an example. I have three kids who left here at an early age to get an education and never came back home because of a lack of opportunities. Now that is all about to change. The pier and airport expansion will spin off into opportunities that our children will now be able to stay with us longer because their journey for education will be planned for them to come back.
In addition to that, I am very pleased with what I see happening at the airport because it is going to be a big benefit to Biminites. As it is now, if I want to go to New York, I have to get a plane from here, spend a night in a hotel, then get a connecting flight. In the future, I will be able to get a flight directly from here to New York or Germany, or other places that will come on stream. The same thing applies to the cruise port. It's a win-win all around.
Unfortunately there must be some sacrifice, but as I see it the tampering with the sea bed is only a small portion of resources that we have that will be touched. When we look at the whole equation, both terminals outweigh by far the negative impacts that might be experienced.
Whoever these people are who are speaking against the project, we need to know because most of the people that I talk to here in Bimini are in favor of the work. For all the noise we are hearing through the media, we need to be able to put faces to these names. It troubles us that these people are not a part of us, yet they are speaking on our behalf. We don't know who these people are and they need to stay out of our business.
I am praying for the success of Resorts World Bimini because if it succeeds, Bimini succeeds. As the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.
- Oral Ellis, pastor, Born Again Church, Bimini
RAV Bahamas is still
very much in Bimini's tourism development picture, according to a joint
statement made by RAV and Bimini's newest investor, Resorts World
Bimini, a subsidiary of the Genting Group, a multinational corporation
engaged in a growing portfolio of leisure and gaming development and
resort operations in The Americas.
In June 2012, Genting Malaysia
joint ventured with RAV Bahamas, developer of Bimini Bay Resort &
Marina and Rockwell Island Beach Estates, to build the 10,000 square
foot Resorts World Bimini Casino.