Bahamas megaresort finally opens

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NASSAU, Bahamas — Nearly two years after Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States and subsequently fell into liquidation, threatening the prospects of the multi-billion dollar project and the livelihoods of thousands of Bahamians, the resort, under new ownership, opened its doors on Friday with great fanfare.
The Grand Hyatt, comprised of the two massive landmark towers, the first of three phases, was unveiled.
Baha Mar’s executive team, Chinese stakeholders, and hundreds of employees, welcomed the attendees of the opening ceremony into the resort, which boasts rich Bahamian artwork, an array of vibrant colors, and plush finishings and furniture.
According to Baha Mar president Graeme Davis, over 1,600 people have been employed.
Baha Mar began accepting reservations for its 800 available rooms on Friday, but officials noted that hundreds of invited guests have been occupying rooms for the past several weeks.
During a press conference before the opening ceremony, Davis was asked to respond to the history of controversy and failed deadlines of the resort, and what it will take to repair its image and brand.
“It’s very unfortunate that Baha Mar has, in the past, certainly affected vacation plans, has spoiled people’s future memories,” he said.
“We look forward to certainly restoring the trust and the integrity of Baha Mar with our travel partners and certainly with our future guests.
“We certainly welcome our travel partners to come back and work with us.”
Davis said a lot of work is being done to open the SLS Lux brand in the fall.
“We certainly want to make sure that we open thoughtfully,” he said.
“We certainly want to make sure that we create an exceptional experience.
“With any opening at any major resort, with the incredible intricacies and challenges when you have an opening, you want to make sure that first guest is treated special; that we don’t overburden our associates that have trained so hard.
“We have several hundred rooms that are occupied already.
“We are ramping up very quickly.
“We have over 800 rooms available, but we are making sure that we open thoughtfully.”
Before the ribbon of the resort was cut, Prime Minister Perry Christie said Baha Mar’s opening is one of the principal achievements of his administration, dismissing criticisms from the opposition that the yesterday’s opening was a matter of public relations and not a real opening of the resort.
“And the end of the day, it all came together and, therefore, there is a personal sense of gratitude that I should express to China Export Import Bank because what you did, you did not have a legal obligation to do,” he said.
Robert Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice president of administration and external affairs, told The Guardian, it is a “new beginning” for the hotels on Cable Beach and a renaissance for tourism in The Bahamas.
In a separate interview, attorney general Allyson Maynard-Gibson and deputy prime minister Philip Brave Davis expressed delight over the soft opening and said Bahamians should be proud.
The deputy prime minister said, “It is not only a great day for the government, but a great day for the people of The Bahamas and because of the support that we got from any number of our citizenry, we were able to achieve this milestone.”
The attorney general, one of the lead negotiators on the sale once the bankruptcy proceedings were dismissed, said the heavy lifting has been done, former employees have been paid, the Bahamian creditors have been paid, and she is happy for Bahamians and the country.
“We need to continue moving and make sure there is no stopping young Bahamians now,” she said.

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