Caribbean Tour Operators Split On Selling Much-Delayed Baha Mar
PHOTO: Developers have yet to announce an opening date for the $3.5 billion Baha Mar resort. (courtesy Baha Mar)
Top Caribbean tour operators are taking varied approaches as vacationers, hoteliers, government tourism officials and Bahamas sub-contractors and resort workers all await the much-delayed opening of the $3.5 billion Baha Mar development.
While one major tour company is taking bookings in advance of an expected November opening, others are holding tight as Baha Mar’s developers have yet to announce an opening date.
Pleasant Holidays recently added the hotel to its inventory following a tour of the site. Jack Richards, the company’s CEO, said the resort looks “90 percent completed,” adding that Pleasant is accepting guest bookings and targeting a Nov. 1 opening date.
Pleasant’s move comes despite the continuing failure of Baha Mar officials to announce an opening date. The four-hotel complex, which includes the flagship Baha Mar Casino and Hotel, SLS Lux at Baha Mar, Rosewood at Baha Mar, and Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar properties, was originally slated to open in December 2014.
At the other end of the spectrum is GOGO Vacations’ Jim Tedesco, who this week told TravelPulse that “because of so many” Baha Mar postponements, his company is waiting for the mega-resort to open before booking guests.
Same goes for Travel Impressions, who is waiting for positive signs that the mega-resort is back on track.
"We are not yet taking reservations due to the continued postponements and conflicting information we’ve received on opening dates," a spokesman for Travel Impressions said in an email to Travel Pulse. "We do have our contracts for the Baha Mar Casino Hotel, Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, and SLS Lux and are ready to sell once we feel confident that the resort is ready."
The company's Carribbean senior director, Bob Lawrence, also toured the Baha Mar complex last month.
Another major Caribbean tour operator, Apple Vacations, is also taking a wait-and-see approach. “Currently Apple Vacations is not selling Baha Mar,” said Tim Mullen the company’s president. “However, we do have our contracts in place and will be ready to sell once the resort is open and ready to receive our customers.”
Another wholesaler, Classic Vacations, is monitoring the negotiations closely before deciding to sell Baha Mar.
"We are not accepting reservations for Baha Mar at this point," said Classic Vacations spokesman Federico Moreno-Nickerson. "We are awaiting the outcome of the meetings this week between the developer and the Chinese Bank with a more clear path forward."
The mega-resort project has failed to meet at least two official opening dates since December amidst a multitude of issues ranging from allegations of delayed and inadequate payments made to China Construction America (CCA), the project’s contractor, to charges from Baha Mar CEO Sarkis Izmirlian that government missteps have crippled the project.
Behind the disputes stand hundreds of disgruntled travelers who held now-invalid bookings for Baha Mar vacations in 2015.
TravelPulse tour operators editor David Cogswell contributed to this report.
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