Caribbean Insights: Baha Mar Resolution Will Bring Closure And Pain
While a resolution is now in sight for the nearly year-long stall in the $3.5 billion Baha Mar project, the conclusion will almost certainly prompt some painful outcomes.
An array of investors, including iconic Bahamas hotelier Sol Kerzner, is reportedly in discussions with China’s Export Import Bank (EXIM) to reorganize, finance, open and operate the long-stalled $3.5 billion Baha Mar resort, according to a Bahamas Tribune report. Perry Christie, the Bahamas prime minister, said the potential investors include “huge” Chinese firms.
Christie also expressed hopes that Bahamas-based contractors who worked on the resort and are owed “significant sums of money” following EXIM’s October move to place the project into receivership, are paid on a “dollar per dollar basis.”
That likelihood remains to be seen and is by no means assured. The greater probability is the contractors are among several parties to lose out in the aftermath of the mega-resort’s failure.
Those ranks include 2,500 former Baha Mar employees, who will of course need to find other means to support themselves and their families. The Bahamas government (and the country’s taxpayers) are similarly on the hook for a reported $58.8 million in unpaid taxes, fees and utility bills.
The project’s hotel partners will suffer right along with hundreds of travelers with reservations for the resort’s original December 2014 opening. Rosewood Hotel Group had been scheduled to open a 200-room Rosewood at Baha Mar; a 700-room Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar was also planned for the resort along with a 300-room SLS Lux brand property.
Those hotel partners have already lost what may be millions of dollars in unfulfilled bookings. In August, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts sought to end its association with Baha Mar, saying the mega-resort was tarnishing the hotel company’s brand.
A source close to SLS told TravelPulse in May that the company contacted travelers with unfulfilled Baha Mar bookings to rebook them at a later date at other SLS properties or at another Bahamas hotels and refunded partial cost of flights. Baha Mar’s Facebook page offers a summer’s worth of comments from vacationers whose plans were ruined by the resort’s failure to open.
Also left hanging are tour operators, including major players Pleasant Holidays and GOGO Vacations, which have suspended their programs with the mega-resort.
Perhaps among the most pained party may be Sarklis Izmirlian, Baha Mar’s developer. Izmirlian now seems to be separated from the outcome of a project he largely conceived. In 2005, Izmirlian used a $200-million loan from Scotiabank to fund the purchase of properties that included the Nassau Beach Hotel and the Crystal Palace Casino, which ultimately became the Baha Mar project.
At several junctures during this summer’s long Baha Mar meltdown, the developer professed his love for the Bahamian people and determination to complete his Cable Beach vision. In the end, his dreams will be counted as one more casualty in the Baha Mar meltdown.
More by Brian Major
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