Last updated: 03:49 PM ET, Thu December 08 2016

Baha Mar to Open First Phase by Second Quarter of 2017

Hotel & Resort Patrick Clarke December 08, 2016

Baha Mar to Open First Phase by Second Quarter of 2017

PHOTO: Baha Mar casino resort in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo courtesy of Baha Mar)

The Bahamas' long-awaited and troubled Baha Mar resort has made headlines for all of the wrong reasons in recent years. But finally, an end appears to be in sight.

According to Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie, speaking at a recent Bahamas Hotel Association event, the $3.5 billion casino resort will open its first phase in April 2017, with 700 of the property's 1,800 hotel rooms opening to the public, World Casino News reported.

Hyatt Hotels will operate the casino hotel.

New buyer Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) will spend approximately $200 million to complete the final phase of construction on the project — which is estimated to be 97 percent complete — and fund the pre-opening celebrations at the resort.

Tribune 242 reported Tuesday that a delegation that included Bahamas Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe was traveling to Hong Kong this week to meet with CTFE.

"We're going to take a look at the model of their operation and how it fits in ours," Wilchcombe told the Tribune. "This is the largest single floor casino in the Caribbean so you have to be sure of what they intend to do, what games they intend to place on the floor, where the emphasis will be, which markets they will be catering to, whether low scale, upscale, how they are going to phase development."

According to Christie, it's expected that CTFE will hire 1,500 employees for Baha Mar at the start of new year and employ as many as 4,300 by the end of 2017.

Baha Mar, which was originally slated to open by the end of 2014, broke ground more than five years ago and was originally developed by Sarkis Izmirlian, who is no longer associated with the project.