Bahamas Betting on a Boom

Nearly $1 billion in development announced just in the past four months

By: Eleanor Wilson

Over the past four months, investors have earmarked nearly $1 billion for improvements and developments in the Bahamas amid optimism that the islands will continue to draw a growing number of tourists.

Much of the recent investments announced is for the $600 million third phase of Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. But other multimillion-dollar projects have also been announced including a $240 million eco-sensitive resort on Crab Cay and a $35 million expansion of Pittstown Point Landing on Crooked Island.

“We’re doing very well in pockets,” Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, director general for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said. “Paradise Island is significantly above the average, and our luxury properties around all our islands are reporting high occupancies.”

Atlantis officials say occupancy at the property has returned to normal.

“Our proposed expansion positions us well as demand patterns in the travel industry improve,” said Butch Kerzner, president of Kerzner International.

Kerzner said construction of four restaurants and retail space around the new Marina Village is to begin by the end of this year. That development, along with three luxury Ocean Club villas, is expected to be completed by the end of 2004.

Harborside’s addition of 120 two-bedroom timeshare suites begins in 2004, with a target completion of 2005.

About $500 million of the investment will cover the new 1,200-room hotel at Atlantis Paradise Cove that will also add more water-based attractions, convention and meeting space, and a new golf course. Work will start in late 2004.

When the work is done, Kerzner International’s total investment in the Bahamas will be $1.7 billion.

The increased development has also been spurred by government incentives including an 11-year extension of casino tax concessions.

Meanwhile, a $140 million development is set for Winding Bay on Abaco that will include 75 cottages, 55 homes, an 18-hole golf course and a clubhouse. It will be the fourth in the Carnegie Clubs network.

Gold Rock Creek Enterprises also has allocated $70 million for a 130-room hotel on Grand Bahama, plus a film/television/movie studio and a theme park.