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Baha Mar Targets the WorldFebruary 25, 2011 By: Joe Pike
Baha Mar, the $3.4 billion mega resort development set to grace The Bahamas in December, 2014, is not looking compete with its Nassau neighbor, The Atlantis.
It is looking to compete with the rest of the world.
Travel Agent chatted with representatives of the much-anticipated Caribbean project Thursday morning and learned that the development team is looking to key in on the percentage of clients who have not yet made the Bahamas the top of their vacation list.
"We aren’t positioning ourselves to compete with Atlantis over the 70 percent of Americans who come to The Bahamas," said Tom Dunlap, executive vice president of development and construction. “We want to go after that other 30 percent."
Now, of course, the developers will focus on the U.S. since it is, and will always be, the destination’s bread and butter due to its accessibility by air. But the seasoned squad of developers, all of whom have established backgrounds including work with Disney and City Center, Las Vegas, are looking expand the clientele that comes to the Bahamas by reaching out to the rest of the rest of world. Specifically, the team is zeroing in on China as one of its main targets since many of the project's investors represent that country, says Don Robinson, president of Baha Mar.
There is no question the development could be a big hit for any of your Caribbean clients: It offers a little of everything for just about every segment of the market. Baha Mar announced earlier its hotel brand partners would include Rosewood Hotels & Resorts,
Morgans Hotel Group and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, which will be new major hotel operators for the Cable Beach Resort Area. There will be an eco-friendly water park, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, three spas, at least 15 restaurants and more. All clients, who are expected to be mainly couples with some families splashed in, will be able to share amenities.
The only question that does remain is will it be completed in time? And this is something that agents find themselves asking about just about any project of this size that requires so much detail and construction ($50 million worth to be exact). But delays are usually the result of financial setbacks. And with the exception of Harrah’s Hotels & Casinos pulling out of its investment a few years back due to the ongoing economic crisis, Robinson said he expected no other financial roadblocks.
"The difference between this project and all other projects that usually get held up is that this is funded already," he said of the project, which broke ground this month. "The money is there. We are not waiting for the funding to come rolling in as we build. We are funded and now we are building."
Richard G. English, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Baha Mar, also noted that this is a single phase project and, because of that, is easier to plan.
"The projects that get pushed back are the two-, three-phase projects where you can’’t start the next phase until another is complete,” he said. "This is one phase and we have the money for that phase."
The vision of Baha Mar started more than five years ago when Baha Mar Development Company was formed. Baha Mar designed a plan to deliver an authentic Caribbean experience and to revitalize Nassau’s Cable Beach area, which was once a popular vacation destination.
In March 2005, Baha Mar Development acquired the Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino, Radisson Cable Beach & Golf Resort and the Nassau Beach Hotel. Baha Mar consolidated the three hotels, which were adjacent to one another along 3,000 feet of Nassau’s largest and most beautiful beach, into one resort complex – resulting in the second largest resort in the Caribbean. The three properties formed what was known as Cable Beach Resorts and offered an expansive set of cross-property amenities and services for guests to enjoy, no matter where they stayed.
Since then, Baha Mar has invested approximately $145 million in capital improvements to Cable Beach Resorts, leading to a revival of the destination.
In June 2007, the Radisson was converted to the all-new Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort following a dramatic renovation. Still owned by Baha Mar, the Sheraton is currently operated and managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
In preparation for the expected Baha Mar expansion, the Nassau Beach Hotel closed in January 2008, while the Wyndham and Crystal Palace Casino received a number of upgrades, such as renovated accommodations, new dining options, redesigned exterior and interior spaces, new guest amenities and services and a new entertainment program.
Together, the Wyndham and Sheraton offer guests 1,250 guest rooms and suites, most offering incredible ocean views; a 30,000 square foot full-service casino; more than 50,000 square feet of meeting space; 15 restaurants and lounges; a complete tennis facility; an 18-hole resort golf course; over a half mile of Nassau’s best beach; and a variety of water sport activities. In addition, the resorts are located within 20 minutes of the airport.
In addition, Baha Mar could provide tremendous economic benefits to The Bahamas — from hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue to approximately 8,500 new jobs.