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Cushman & Wakefield are moving to strike comments made by a key "whistleblower" off the record in a $24 billion lawsuit implicating the former Ginn Sur Mer development on Grand Bahama.
According to court documents filed in the United States District Court in Idaho, the international real estate company has submitted a deposition whereby former appraiser Michael Miller contradicts key statements made to the plaintiffs' lawyers more than one year ago.
Based on the affidavit, Cushman & Wakefield argues the court must reconsider its ruling on their motion to dismiss the charges.
Ginn Sur Mer, a $4.9 billion "mega mix" resort, is one of four luxury resort communities
involved in the case. The plaintiffs claim they were allegedly victim to a "loan to own" scheme that brought down the projects.
The lawsuit alleges that Credit Suisse encouraged the loans based on inflated appraisals performed by Cushman & Wakefield, which essentially overburdened the resorts and caused them to fail.
The defendants face a number of charges, including fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment and Consumer Protection Act violations.
Credit Suisse and Cushman & Wakefield deny all charges.
In this latest development, Miller, the former appraiser of Cushman & Wakefield, submitted a statement calling into question his previous statements in support of the plaintiffs.
In particular, Miller said he prepared total net value (TNV) appraisals "and he does not believe TNV appraisals are misleading or illegal".
"Miller also described important points about his March 2011 meeting with plaintiffs' counsel: He attended the meeting not as a whistleblower, but at the insistence of his boss, and believing that the meeting was part of his potential retention as an export witness," the court document said. "He also refused to sign the declaration because he was not comfortable with it, wanted to confirm its accuracy, and wanted to review the confidentiality provisions of his employment agreements with C&W and Grubb & Ellis."
The court document, filed by lawyers representing Cushman & Wakefield, contend the plaintiffs have repeatedly asserted that Miller was a "whistleblower-type witness". It said the plaintiffs have used it as testimony, which incriminates both Cushman & Wakefield and Credit Cuisse of knowing and intentionally developing and utilizing the misleading, and likely illegal, TNV and total net proceeds methodologies.
In a transcript obtained by Guardian Business, the former Cushman & Wakefield employee, when asked if the appraisals were misleading, said: "As best as I understand it, no."
He also insisted in the deposition that a number of development projects are not performing as a result of the recession and a downturn in the property market, and he does not blame this on the appraisals.
The apparent turnaround of a key witness may cast doubt over the $24 billion lawsuit.
One of the plaintiffs in the case, L.J. Gibson, was an investor and property owner in the Ginn Sur Mer development. According to previous court documents, the plaintiffs class "is so numerous that the joinder of all members is impracticable".
Therefore, the plaintiffs, with approval from the court, proposed separate funds to be created for stakeholders in the four luxury resorts allegedly victimized.
The other resorts seeking damages include Tamarack Resort, Yellowstone Club and Lake Las Vegas.
Comprising nearly 900 homes, two championship ocean-front golf courses, 4,400 condominium hotel units, two marinas, a casino, a medical facility and a private airport expansion, investors allege the Ginn Sur Mer project was on track before Credit Suisse forced it into default in 2008.
The plaintiffs claim they were induced to borrow "unreasonably excessive amounts" based on inflated valuations.
Credit Suisse, court documents said, subsequently charged tens of millions in "exorbitant" loan fees, which eventually caused the project to become financially insolvent and fail.
The defendants allege that Credit Suisse "wrongfully acquired ownership" and became "de facto" successor developer after Ginn went into default.
Bahamian training and education professionals desirous of providing training services to Sandals Resorts International are now being offered an opportunity to become Sandals approved training service providers (ATSPs).
Four luxury resorts suing Credit Suisse for $24 billion in damages claim a portion of the capital used in its "predatory lending practices" came from illegal business dealings with the Iranian government.
The accusation, contained within a U.S. court document obtained by Guardian Business, details how Credit Suisse "acquired huge fees, cash and profits from Iran and other prohibited nations" between 2003 and 2008. The multinational, according to the courts, deliberately stripped identifying information from wire transfers in excess of $1 billion from Iranian banks seeking to purchase technology in U.S. dollars.
Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to the charges in 2009 for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. But some of the money it made from the transactions, the plaintiffs claim, was invested in Ginn Sur Mer to facilitate a foreclosure and subsequent takeover.
"This scheme enabled Credit Suisse to increase its capital and lending capability by illegal means and invest a portion of its illegal proceeds and profits to make loans to others, including the named resorts herein," the U.S. court document reads.
The court document goes on to allege some of the clients in the wire transfer scheme included members of Iran's Atomic Energy Commission, which is purportedly linked with the country's nuclear weapons program.
Ginn Sur Mer, the only plaintiff not located in the U.S., was allegedly the victim of the multinational's "loan to own" scheme that brought about its foreclosure in 2008.
Investors in the $4.9 billion "mega mix" resort in Grand Bahama, comprising hundreds of homes, golf courses, condo units and an impressive list of services and amenities, insist they were induced to borrow "unreasonably excessive amounts" based on inflated valuations.
Credit Suisse, the document said, subsequently charged tens of millions in "exorbitant" loan fees which eventually caused the project to become financially insolvent and fail.
In 2008, Ginn Sur Mer and its subsidiary development defaulted on loans it took on after mortgaging the land to the tune of $275,750,000 in favor of Ginn-LA Conduit Lenders Inc. These rights were transferred to Credit Suisse.
Credit Suisse insists that the charges, including racketeering, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy, are baseless.
The plaintiffs allege Credit Suisse targeted certain master-planned residential and recreational developments, such as Ginn Mur Mer, with new-found capital in an effort to take advantage of the hot property market "in and about 2004".
"Concurrently with defendant Credit Suisse' scheme to evade U.S. economic sanctions, and with the intent of expanding its presence in the 'hot' U.S. real estate market as a means of generating hundreds of millions of dollars in excessive loan fees for its operators, Credit Suisse devised and planned what is herein referred to as the defendants' 'Loan to Own' scheme," the court document stated.
In December 2009, after pleading guilty to the charges, it was widely reported that Credit Suisse forfeited $536 million to the U.S. and the New York County District Attorney's Office. It was the largest ever entered against an entity for such violations.
The other resorts seeking $24 billion in damages during the ongoing case in the U.S. include Tamarack Resort, Yellowstone Club and Lake Las Vegas.
With an announcement on Baha Mar's casino partner soon to come, executives assert moves to make official its partnership with three respected hotel brands has already improved the country's cachet in the industry.
The $3.4 billion Cable Beach mega resort recently inked agreements with Hyatt Hotels, Morgans Hotel Group and the Rosewood Hotels management companies to operate the various hotels that will be constructed on the property.
They are deals, said vice president of administration and external affairs Robert Sands, that bode well for the country's image as a top tourism destination.
"It gives The Bahamas depth and an advantage in terms of best in class brands," he told Guardian Business yesterday. "Also, it further exposes The Bahamas as an enviable tourism destination."
Indeed, partnering with such brands may be the kind of boost this nation needs to maintain its tourism edge in the region, where competition has increased in recent years. As a global recession slashed disposable visitor spend, tourists have become discerning about value for their dollar, with hotel brands weighing heavily into travelers' decisions.
Having those kinds of well-known brands is especially important in a market like Nassau/Paradise Island where questions remain about market oversaturation in the mega resort category.
Various hotel executives, however, have assured that the market will be able to accommodate the addition of new rooms. Valued at $3.4 billion, Baha Mar will include almost 3,500 rooms and residences, the largest casino in the Caribbean, the largest convention center in The Bahamas, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, three spas, a 20-acre eco-water park, multiple restaurants, high-end retail and entertainment venues, and will be situated along a half-mile of uninterrupted pristine beachfront. Baha Mar represents the largest single-phase resort ever developed in the Caribbean, and is currently the largest project under development in North America.
"Our hotel partners have embraced the vision of Baha Mar, which is to capture the true spirit of the region's rich heritage of African, European and Caribbean influences while delivering the very highest levels of quality and service," Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar's chairman and CEO said recently in a press statement. "Shifting the sands of global tourism Baha Mar represents a bold vision, the largest in the history of the Caribbean, and marks the resurgence of an area known as The Bahamian Riviera. The successful completion of our management agreements with Hyatt, Morgans and Rosewood is a significant milestone for Baha Mar as we continue to turn this vision into a reality.
"All three of these hotel groups have been great partners with us throughout this process, and their ability to work together to bring Baha Mar's vision to reality has been amazing," said Don Robinson, president of Baha Mar. "Our strategy to work with multiple, best-in-class brands gives Baha Mar the opportunity to feature the very finest brand offerings for each of our different high-end hotel segments."
Hyatt Hotels Corporation is a global hospitality company with a portfolio of 445 properties on five continents, operating under the Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Andaz, Hyatt Place, and Hyatt Summerfield Suites brands names.
Morgans Hotel Group has a history of revolutionizing the hospitality industry with innovative lodging concepts characterized by design-centric ambiance and timeless elegance. It is well known for its Delano and Shore Club resorts in Miami, the Mondrian in Los Angeles, Miami and New York, the St. Martin's Lane and Sanderson properties in London, and the Morgans, Hudson and Royalton hotels in New York City.
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has a long and successful history of managing exclusive, luxury properties, including three award-winning resorts in the Caribbean. In addition, Rosewood has several of America's most exclusive city hotels, including the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, and The Carlyle, a Rosewood hotel in New York City.
The Bahamas desperately needs to increase revenues. Foreign direct investment through property development is often deemed as the primary path to do so even though its direct economic impact often seems overstated. As this country strives to implement fiscal restraint, the government has yet to show a cohesive approach on development moving forward.
Large development projects are marred by political divisiveness. The people of The Bahamas waited patiently for years wondering if Baha Mar would really ever get off the ground. Brought forward first by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), Baha Mar was finally signed off on by the Free National Movement (FNM) after political squabbling.
We should not be surprised then that politics played a role in the initial announcement for a proposed large development on Grand Bahama. Though the details of the project remain elusive, a project of "big commercial interest" does pique interest and skepticism. Any warm welcome for this announcement was quickly stymied by comments from former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
He said, "This matter (the proposal) was considered by the government of The Bahamas on four separate occasions and we determined on each occasion at the end of it that we could not and would not support this project."
Bahamians expect government officials to act in the best interest of the people and yet development projects aimed at providing jobs seem unnecessarily controversial. Will the development positively contribute to the overall economy and health of The Bahamas or will it not?
Certainly, a project denied on four separate occasions by one prime minister and then reconsidered by the next, does not bode well for investor confidence. But Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments, remains confident that foreign direct investment will improve next year.
"We have a very deliberate strategy and we understand the difficult period that Bahamians are going through and we are going to continue to work hard to alleviate some of that pain. We are looking at that strategy and looking at boutique type resorts that the islands can withstand. We are looking at the various islands and their carrying capacities. We have a lot on tap for many of them," he said.
We do hope the government may share this deliberate strategy because its current development strategy is not cohesive. On the same day, the prime minister announces a "big commercial interest" another espouses boutique type resorts. Grand Bahama may certainly have the capacity to support a large development, but we must understand why others on that same island have failed or remain barely open.
The government must collectively agree on a development strategy and then work together to streamline the process from proposal to construction to operation. Too often we rely on mega-resorts as the answer to our financial problems but we leave ourselves vulnerable to outside influences. Too many developments have failed.
The Family Islands are idealized as places of refuge from the busy city life of Nassau. Yet, the Family Islands are struggling. They need real stimulus, not just the "buzz" from potential hotel projects.
In 2013, The Bahamas is poised for new development announcements. Christie and Rolle both allude to forthcoming projects to stimulate Family Island economies. Let's hope that this is more than just "buzz" to feign new revenue.
Most of all, the government must emphasize that these developments offer more than just menial low-wage jobs. These developments must be innovative, we are tired of the cookie cutter large anchor projects that continue to disappoint.
Superstorm Sandy has washed away thousands of prospective tourists in North America that were expecting some time in the sun.
As the hurricane made landfall in the U.S., airports in a number of states canceled flights across the board. Service out of Toronto has also been suspended. While the exact toll has yet to be calculated, the storm is projected to have a noticeable impact on this country's top industry.
"Obviously it is going to have an impact. We'll lose some business," said Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe. "We are fortunate that this is not occurring in peak season and it's the early part of the week, but we are assured to lose several thousand visitors. It will be at least a week before the whole matter is behind us."
Indeed, the apparent loss of tourism arrivals is salt in the wound following the passage of Sandy last weekend.
Wilchcombe noted that a large number of tourists are also stuck in resorts. The result should be an unexpected boost for resorts. That said, it will be a far cry from making up for the grounded flights.
"This is just the reality. We are all affected by such things. So we'll lose, but at the end of the day the important thing is people are safe," he added.
According to a statement from the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA), the Ministry of Tourism will continue to monitor travel between The Bahamas and those areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
The BHA has placed its cancellation policy into effect for all travelers disrupted by the storm. The policy gives the vacationer a choice of using deposits or payments towards a future stay at the same property.
It also allows for a full refund should the traveler insist on it.
The BHA has requested that members be "considerate" in regards to hotel rates for tourists forced to stay for a longer period of time.
"Every effort is being made to accommodate stranded travelers and re-accommodate those whose travel plans to The Bahamas have changed due to the hurricane," said Stuart Bowe, president of the BHA.
The BHA further noted that damage to the country's hotels and resorts has been minimal. Properties in the Family Islands, however, experienced delays in re-opening.
JetBlue, one of the top airlines into The Bahamas, told Guardian Business that approximately 400 passengers have so far been unable to make the trip to The Bahamas.
Alan Sweeting, general manager at the airline, said three flights were canceled yesterday leaving from the New York area. At least one flight will be canceled tomorrow from John F. Kennedy International Airport.
"As far as a refund, we can certainly give them a credit voucher. Full refunds are also considered in certain circumstances," he explained.
Sweeting hoped that normal service would resume as of Wednesday. However, that will depend on the final impact of Sandy and how airports fare with the clean-up and possible damage.
Wilchcombe told Guardian Business that a silver lining has been the cruise sector, which quickly rebounded with the re-opening of the harbor. He noted that it sustained "thunder damage" from Sandy.
Nassau hosted five ships shortly after the passage of Hurricane Sandy.
Approval for a $30 million development in Eleuthera is being welcomed whole-heartedly by its soon to be next-door neighbor, Cotton Bay Estates.
Franklyn Wilson, chairman of the high-profile project, revealed that Luis Carlos Sarmiento, a Columbian billionaire, has reignited his ambitions on the island to construct a luxury resort.
With an estimated net worth of $10.5 billion, the banking mogul's project, combined with Cotton Bay Estates, has the capacity to "without question create the golfing capital of The Bahamas and the Caribbean".
World-class golf courses designed by professionals are intended to be the centerpieces of the neighboring resorts.
In its final cabinet meeting before the election, the government reportedly approved the Columbian's $30 million project to build an 80-room resort, golf course, spa, shopping area, restaurant and bar.
"If it happens it will be fantastic for our property," Wilson said.
"It would mean Eleuthera will have the two best golf courses right next to each other - the two best in the Caribbean. It is a tremendous thing for Eleuthera Properties Ltd."
According to Wilson, Sarmiento purchased the old Cotton Bay Club from Eleuthera Properties Ltd. in 1995. While there were plans for a "significant development", Sarmiento didn't share the same vision of the government. Any disagreements have apparently been resolved, however, and Guardian Business understands that Sarmiento has been negotiating with the Four Seasons to run the new resort.
After the approval, Ingraham said the project would mean more government investment in Eleuthera to bolster public infrastructure.The airport, roads and utilities may be poised for expansion, creating further stimulus to the economy and employment opportunities.
Wilson told Guardian Business that Cotton Bay Estates and Sarmiento's project have agreed to "significant cooperation".
"Firstly, if they have a golf course, and we do, clearly it makes us work together to find ways to let the golfing world know that these exist. Second, we'll talk to the same market - high-end luxury. They do not have a marina, whereas we do. A lot of people who come will want access to a world-class marina," he added.
Wilson felt the issue of water supply is a challenge both developments must tackle. The rise of both resorts has the capacity to reduce costs, he explained , through their "synergies".
"The two of us together will be exceptional for The Bahamas," he said.
Wilson, who is also the chairman of Arawak Homes, told Guardian Business last month that Cotton Bay Estates remains undeterred despite some recent setbacks.
"Eight figures" have so far been invested in the project, although he has expressed reluctance to place a specific timeline on the $200 million development's completion date.
He emphasized that Cotton Bay benefits from some "very deep pockets".
Located five miles south of Rock Sound, Starwood Hotels & Resorts first signed an agreement with Eleuthera Properties Ltd. in 2005 to develop the massive project. Comprising more than 100 estate lots, a clubhouse, a private marina and an 18-hole golf course, it was heralded as one of the largest projects ever undertaken by a group of Bahamian investors.
Thursday 8th November 2012 7:00 AM
HVS Chicos Hotel Investment Conference DAY 1 - THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8th, 2012 and DAY 2 - FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9th, 2012 Click HERE to see info on Day 2 7:00 am - 9:00 pm - REGISTRATION Grand Ballroom D 8:00 am - 8:30 am - NETWORKING BREAKFAST Grand Ballroom D 8:30 am - 9:45 am - GLOBAL, REGIONAL, CARIBBEAN, AND ECONOMIC OVERVIEW Grand Ballroom D Global Trends Stephen Rushmore, Jr, Chief Executive Officer & President - HVS Global Hospitality Services Global & Regional Hotel Performance Carter Wilson, Director - STR Analytics Overview of Caribbean Lodging Market Parris Jordan, Managing Director, Caribbean - HVS Global Hospitality Services Overview of Global Economy Dr. Avery Shenfeld, Managing Director & Chief Economist – CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank 9:45 am - 10:45 am – GENERAL SESSION Grand Ballroom D VIEW FROM THE TOP: INVESTMENT IN THE REGION Join our panel of Investors, owners and operators in a discussion of the major issues impacting the industry in the region today. The region has been impacted significantly over the past five years but we are starting to see recovery in the top line at least. But is this enough to get the investment and lending communities excited about the region again? What hurdles do we still need to get over? Where do these experts see opportunities? These experts will discuss what has attracted them to the region historically, the obstacles that the industry has been dealing with and how they are overcoming the impediments to successful operations, investment and development. They will discuss whether the challenges in the Caribbean region are significantly different than in other parts of the world or whether the same issues are present and what can be learned from the experience elsewhere. Finally, they will discuss how the industry within the region may evolve over the next few years and where their focus is. Moderator: David Larone, Director – PKF Consulting Panelists: David Brillembourg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer – Brilla Group Kenneth Blatt, Principal – Caribbean Property Group Dave Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer – Aimbridge Hospitality Michael Shindler, Executive Vice President of Hotels & Casinos – Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos 10:45 am - 11:00 am - NETWORKING COFFEE BREAK - SPONSOR EXHIBITS Foyer 11:00 am -12:00 pm – GENERAL SESSION Grand Ballroom D CARIBBEAN GONE GLOBAL - INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS Where did they come from and what do they want? In this important discussion comprised of experienced international investors representing various regions in the world, panelists will explain how perspective on the Caribbean has recently changed and appetite for Caribbean investment opportunity has consequently gone global. This discussion will examine how a variety of foreign family offices, institutions, lenders and emerging hotel brands have taken to the sand looking for opportunity to extend their reach into the recovering Caribbean region. Learn what they want and how they want it. Moderator: Bernard van der Lande, Managing Director and Senior Vice President – Hodges Ward Elliott Hotels Panelists: Pierre Charalambides, Founding Partner – Dolphin Capital Greg Rice, President and Founder – Solid Rock Advisors Jay Rosen, Vice President of Business Development – Davidson Hotels & Resorts Fausto Barba, Vice President of Finance and Development – Capella Hotel Group John Keith, Managing Partner – Caribe Hospitality 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 1 A Grand Ballroom E DESTINATION MARKETING IN THE CARIBBEAN Join this prestigious panel of marketing and public relations professionals and reporters who will share insights and make recommendations for effective marketing techniques. This panel is geared toward the hotel operator and owner as well as anyone with an interest in tourism promotion for the Caribbean. Moderator: Leora Lanz, Managing Director - HVS Sales & Marketing Services Panelists: Gay Myers, Senior Editor, Mexico & Caribbean - Travel Weekly Laura Davidson, President and Founder - Laura Davidson Public Relations Gary Leopold, President and Chief Executive Officer - ISM Travel & Lifestyle Marketing Ed Watkins, Editor-in-Chief - Lodging Hospitality Simón B. Suárez, Chief Development Representative, Caribbean and Central America – Hilton Worldwide 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 1 B Grand Ballroom F FINANCING A DEAL IN DIFFICULT TIMES The level of difficulty to finance hotel projects varies by region, project type and the sponsor’s track record. While construction financing remains difficult to obtain, funding for acquisitions appears to be loosening. Our panelists will discuss what pieces of the puzzle are needed to possibly make getting financing easier, the types of projects qualifying for debt, the current trends in financing terms and what the future holds on the financing front. Moderator: Jeff Higley, Vice President - STR Global Panelists: Lance Shaner, Chairman - Shaner Group Steve Carvell, Associate Dean - Cornell University, School Of Hotel Administration Peter Weiss, Director - Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Neil Bane, Senior Managing Director and Principal - Johnson Capital Sagar Desai, Director of Acquisitions & Development - Viceroy Hotel Group 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm - NETWORKING LUNCH Crowne Ballroom A Presentations from Task Force Leaders Announcement of 2013 CHICOS location from the host hotel and local Tourism Official. 1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - GENERAL SESSION Grand Ballroom D THE STATE OF THE GLOBAL GAMING SECTOR: PUTTING THE CARIBBEAN INTO CONTEXT What does the future hold for casino-style gaming in the Caribbean? In the broader “neighborhood” of Central and South America? How do these opportunities compare to those available in other gaming jurisdictions around the world? This panel will explore these questions and others, from the perspective of selected leaders with relevant experience operating and investing in casino-resort projects around the world – from Las Vegas to Asia to the Caribbean. Hear about how different regulatory regimes, infrastructure demands, capital structure difficulties, project returns and other key elements impact investment and operating decisions around the gaming world from a seasoned group of industry experts. Moderator: Adam Rosenberg, Managing Director, Global Head of Gaming – Goldman Sachs Panelists: Andrea Balkan, Managing Partner – Brookfield Real Estate Nicholas Hecker, Principal – Och-Ziff Real Estate Uri Clinton, General Counsel – Baha Mar Resorts 2:50 pm - 3:50 pm - GENERAL SESSION Grand Ballroom D CUBA VS. COLUMBIA INVESTMENT CLIMATES Who will be the next success story? While Cuba has been posted on the radar for so many years in anticipation of its long-awaited opening to foreign investment, Columbia is experiencing a genuine investment renaissance that has taken everyone by storm. Listen to this panel of savvy, market-specific investors debate the merits of each respective destination, focusing on the effects of transparency, rule of law, freedom of the capital markets, and graduation from age-old stereotypes as these Caribbean cousins compete for regional and international hotel investment. Moderator: Chad Meyerson, Director Global Sales – JetBlue Panelists: Jeremy Tang, Managing Director – Hemingway Capital Adam Cohen, Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer – Brilla Group Michael Register, Vice President of Development & Partner – Trust Hospitality Tim Ashby, Chief Executive Officer – Federal Regulatory Compliance Services, LLC 3:50 pm - 4:10 pm - NETWORKING COFFEE BREAK - SPONSOR EXHIBITS Foyer 4:10 pm - 5:10 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 2 A Grand Ballroom E INNOVATE FOR INVESTMENT SUCCESS - OVERCOMING INVESTMENT CHALLENGES With the economy slowly turning around and foreign investors showing renewed interest in hospitality transactions, it is vital that new development projects are delivered successfully – which will in turn stimulate additional investment into the region. This panel discussion is intended to focus on critical implementation activities that are unique to the Caribbean region – and how governments, investors, and development teams can collaborate to conceive and deliver viable hospitality investments. The discussion is intended to be very practical – providing “real-world” guidance for developers based on the panelists’ extensive experience in development in the region (representing the views of Government, private developers, investors, and operators). Moderator: Kevin Goldstein, Director of Sustainability Services – HVS Global Hospitality Services Panelists: Patrick McCudden, Senior Vice President of Real Estate & Development – Hyatt International Patrick Freeman, Vice President, Real Estate and Development – Cisneros Group of Companies Mark Durliat, Chief Executive Officer and Principal – Grace Bay Resorts Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, Principal – Bedford Baker Group Amy Ironmonger, Associate – K&L Gates, LLP 4:10 pm - 5:10 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 2 B Grand Ballroom F HOSPITALITY-DRIVEN MIXED USE RESORTS - PERSPECTIVES ON VARIOUS COMPONENTS A lively discussion of the hospitality driven mixed use model with an emphasis on several real estate components typically present within the model. The discussion will focus on these components from the perspective of physical facilities and issues, operating models, and ways to optimize cash flow and value. Moderator: John Lancet, Managing Director, Miami – HVS Global Hospitality Services Panelists: Neil Kolton, Director of Sales - Interval International Jonathan Nehmer, Principal - JN+A Design Alinio Azevedo, Director of Development - Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Nelson Parker, Head of Development, Americas - Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos German Rojas III Castillo, Senior Manager, Business Development - RCI 5:10 pm - 6:00 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 3 A Grand Ballroom E OPERATIONS: MASTERING THE REBOUND In this highly interactive session we are looking at how operators and other stakeholders are maximizing gains as the Caribbean soars into recovery. Learn from industry experts their secrets to promoting destinations, leveraging opportunity, raising rates and keeping expenses in check. Moderator: Glenn Haussman, Managing Editor – Hotel Interactive Panelists: Nikheel Advani, Chief Operating Officer and Principal – Grace Bay Resorts Paul Burke, Chief Operating Officer – Kerzner International Honorable Haydn Hughes, Parliamentary Secretary of Tourism - Government of Anguilla Louis Alicea, Director of Development, Caribbean and Latin America – Wyndham Hotel Group Alejandro Acevedo, Vice President, Caribbean and Latin America – Marriott International 5:10 pm - 6:00 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 3 B Grand Ballroom F OPPORTUNITIES, OPPORTUNITIES, OPPORTUNITIES Following four long years with stormy clouds due to the impact of the global economic recession, the silver lining is finally beginning to bring to the forefront some opportunities for investors with access to capital. Banks are emerging from the world of “pretend and extend” and are bringing some challenged properties to market; developers are taking a renewed look at stalled new builds; investors are getting tired of sitting on the sidelines and are looking actively for opportunities to reposition for the improving economy; and the existing hotels are exhibiting positive gains in RevPAR throughout the Caribbean. We look forward to discussing what form these opportunities take and some strategies to assist in bringing them to fruition. Investors, bring your wallets! Moderator: Cristina Lanao-Rossel, President - The BDC Group Panelists: Timothy Peck, Chairman – OBM International Roland Mouly, VP of Development, Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America, Americas – Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Edgar Garin, Director of Franchise Development, Central & South America – La Quinta Inns & Suites Juan Morera, Deputy Director of Corporate Development – Grupo Posadas Fernando Fernandez, VP of Development, Americas – Sol Melia International Hotels 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm – COCKTAIL RECEPTION Cafe at The Great Hall of Waters - Royal Towers Lobby Click HERE to view there website
Weeks after announcing around 100 jobs will be created through a multi-million dollar expansion, Sandals has launched a recruitment drive that will seek to fill 150 positions between the two resorts in The Bahamas.
CEO of Sandals Resorts International Adam Stewart said the recruitment program was driven by the success of the local resorts and the company’s expansion plans, and is a testament to its commitment to customer
“We pride ourselves in giving the customer more than he or she expects, and one of the key factors to our success is our talented and passionate team members,” Stewart said. “Due to the success of our properties in The Bahamas and the s ...
The new Memories Grand Bahama Beach & Casino Resort is targeting at least $38 million in annual revenue to cover expenses and hopefully turn a profit once it opens later this year.
In an extensive interview with Guardian Business, Director General at the Ministry of Tourism David Johnson offered specific details on the reopening of the former Reef Village. Blue Diamond Hotels and Resorts, a rapidly growing resort company, will bring the relatively new Memories brand not only to The Bahamas, but indeed across the Caribbean.
The brand is poised to open a few resorts in the next 16 months, in locations such as Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and The Bahamas. Memories already has six locations in Cuba.
Johnson said the five-star, 500-room resort in Grand Bahama is hoping to attract up to 60,000 visitors in its first year of operation.
The Ministry of Tourism has estimated that its opening should create 1,000 permanent jobs for the struggling island, which has suffered from a high double-digit unemployment rate since the onset of the financial crisis.
"In terms of passengers, they won't be looking at just selling this property," he told Guardian Business. "They will be selling Grand Bahama itself. It will bring an increment in the first year of operation of 45,000 to 60,000 visitors to Grand Bahama."
While these numbers might seem lofty, the company behind the venture appears to have the corporate muscle to pull it off.
Sunwing Travel Group, the parent company of Blue Diamond, is one of the largest corporations of its kind in Canada. The fully-integrated company goes beyond operating the hotel and tour company, Johnson said.
"They operate an airline and have a vacation club. A big part of their success, growth and profitability flows from the fact they have a point system," the director general explained.
Johnson estimated that Sunwing will operate "at minimum" three flights per week from Canada. Thousands of other tourists would also stream in from U.S. destinations.
Like all resorts on the lessor-known Family Islands, locking down this airlift will be essential to Memories' survival.
Although the exact capital investment by Blue Diamond is unknown, it is expected to be considerable to bring the property up to a five-star standard. Johnson pointed out that the physical property is not always the underlining factor that makes it five-star. Service, amenities and variety of food and beverage options often take a typical all-inclusive to a luxury destination.
Jordi Pelfort, managing director of Blue Diamond, recently stated that the company is "extremely excited" to enter the Grand Bahama market.
"The unique differentiation inherent in the Memories brand along with the distinct friendliness and flavor of the Bahamian people will help us to grow tourism to the island," Pelfort explained.
Reef Village closed in March 2011 due to poor occupancy levels. Late last year, the government announced a joint venture between Hutchison Whampoa and Sunwing to reopen the Our Lucaya Reef Village Resort.