Radisson Hotels & Resorts' recent addition to its portfolio of the Radisson Our Lucaya Resort, Grand Bahama Island represents a new market strategy for the hotel firm, according to Fredrik Korallus, executive vice president and COO.
Radisson currently operates resorts in Aruba and St. Martin.
"We are excited about the Grand Bahama acquisition," Korallus said of the former Westin property. "This marks our third AAA Four Diamond brand in the region and completes our Caribbean portfolio for now.
"Radisson is focused on building a vibrant new market positioning through the addition of major upscale properties, such as the oceanfront resort in the Bahamas," he said. "The facilities of the resort, combined with our passion to deliver distinctive 'Yes I Can' service, will give Caribbean travelers an exceptional hospitality experience."
The 740-room Radisson is one of two properties in the Our Lucaya complex. The other is the 478-room Our Lucaya Reef Village, the former Sheraton Grand Resort.
The destination itself complements Radisson's existing portfolio, Korallus said. "Here in the Americas we need key destinations. Our primary focus has been to enhance our city properties in the U.S., particularly New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco. When an opportunity arises to do the same for the leisure and meetings and incentive markets, as it did in Grand Bahama, we seize it."
While Radisson is targeting the U.S. market as its primary customer base for Our Lucaya, Korallus said the destination also "does well out of Latin America, South America and Europe. The strength of the Radisson brand in the Caribbean and globally will be key elements in building our future business success."
The news of Radisson's foray into the Bahamas is welcome news for the destination's tourism industry, which has been challenged by the economic recession and dwindling visitor numbers, as has much of the Caribbean region in the past year.
Radisson's expansion into the Bahamas was followed by the announcement that Sandals Resorts International will reopen the former Four Seasons resort on Exuma in the Out Islands on Jan. 22. Sandals currently has a resort in Nassau and another in Fowl Cay in the Exumas chain.
"Two highly respected brands coming into the Bahamas at this time represents a big boost for the destination and for the future growth of tourism," said Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, minister of tourism.
Our Lucaya is divided into two wings, each with a distinct personality. Breakers Cay, the main building, is the focus of resort activities. Lighthouse Pointe at the end of the resort provides more privacy and seclusion.
The resort is home to the Reed Golf Course and the Lucayan Country Club. Other facilities include watersports, four pools, Camp Lucaya for children from 3 to 12 years old, a 25,000-square-foot spa and fitness center and 90,000 square feet of meetings space, including a 40,000-square-foot convention center.
There are nine restaurants and lounges plus a cigar bar, coffee kiosk and wedding gazebos. All rooms and suites offer Internet access.
Rates through September start at $188 per room, per night, double; from October through mid-December, rates start at $209. Peak season rates in February start at $249.
Nearby Port Lucaya Marketplace offers nightly entertainment and shops to supplement the Radisson offerings.
Although the current operator of the Isle of Capri casino at the Our Lucaya complex plans to pull out of the Bahamas, it did extend its exit deadline through October. Government officials are reviewing applications from casino investors and operators interested in taking over the operation, said Vanderpool-Wallace.
Korallus said that "as long as there is an operator, the casino will remain open."
The Radisson is participating in the Club Grand Bahama program recently launched by the Ministry of Tourism. The program is designed to bolster the appeal of the destination by offering travelers an all-inclusive vacation option to the island.
Three tiers of pricing are available, depending upon the hotel selected. The price covers accommodations, tours, two meals a day, transfers and shuttle services.
Unlike typical all-inclusive packages, Club Grand Bahama does not limit guests to the offerings of one resort. Customers can select participating restaurants and activities regardless of where they are located.
Currently the program is centered on properties in the Lucayan Beach area, but there are plans to expand the offerings on an islandwide basis.
In addition to that program, Radisson's Our Lucaya Resort also will offer its own vacation packages and incentive programs through tour operators and agents. Collaboration on packages that feature its three Caribbean properties also is in the works, said Korallus.
"The addition of Our Lucaya will allow Radisson to profile our resorts in St. Martin and Aruba, as well," he said. "With three properties, we can offer brand support and positioning to reach even wider markets than we had in the past. We are revitalizing the Radisson brand as a leader in the upscale system. These three resorts represent our growth market strategies."
The 252-room St. Martin resort reopened in December, following an $80 million reflagging of the former L'Habitacion resort, acquired by Carlson, parent of Radisson, in 2005.
The resort's Le Spa and fitness center opened in late July.
Radisson's inroads into the Caribbean region, however, began in 1998 when Carlson acquired the former Golden Tulip hotel on Aruba and rebranded it as the Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino.
The property closed in 1999 for a $55 million renovation, reopening in 2000 with a 358-room resort. The addition of its Larimar Spa in 2007 was the capstone to the project.