The Sheraton flag was unfurled on Cable Beach in Nassau, Bahamas, on June 12, a milestone event for Baha Mar Resorts.

"It's our first step," said Bryan Guillot, Baha Mar's chief marketing officer. "We have sunk a lot of pylons already, with many more to come."

The opening of the Sheraton is the first phase of a project that calls for the development of a megaresort on Cable Beach. Baha Mar's partners in the joint venture are Harrah's Entertainment and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

"This first phase is critical because it is an indication of what the total product will represent," Guillot said.

The 694-room Sheraton Cable Beach Resort, formerly a Radisson, was "taken down to the concrete in the renovations," according to Guillot. Each guest room cost $100,000 to renovate.

All rooms have a balcony or patio with ocean views, high-speed Internet access, LCD flat-screen TVs, walk-in showers, large desks, ergonomic chairs and signature Sheraton Sleeper beds.

The resort has seven acres of gardens, three pools with waterfalls, a swim-up bar, oversize Jacuzzis, four restaurants, two lounges, four tennis courts, 25,000 square feet of meetings facilities, a business center and a Kids Club.

The Sheraton joins its neighbor, the 550-room Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino, as part of the Cable Beach Resorts family. Both are owned by Baha Mar Development Co.

Together, the resorts form one complex offering cross-property amenity privileges to guests, including the Cable Beach Resorts Golf Club. Still to come in Baha Mar's grand plan are a 1,000-room Caesars Palace, a 300-room W, a 300-room St. Regis and a 700-room Westin.

"We've tried to cover all markets in this product development," Guillot said. "The Sheraton and the Wyndham target the midrange price level. The W aims for the hip-and-cool market, the Westin for the meetings segment, the St. Regis for the high-end traveler and Caesars for the gambling crowd."

The facilities of each hotel will be available to guests at all the hotels with the exception of the St. Regis, whose pool will be for the exclusive use of its guests.

Marketing the Starwood brands (St. Regis, Westin, W and Sheraton) will be a big part of selling the resort, Guillot said.

"We want travelers to think of Baha Mar as a destination where they will stay at one of the properties there. We want them in the mind-set of, 'I'm going to Baha Mar, I'm staying at W', for example," he said.

For travel agents, selling Baha Mar will be an "educational challenge," Guillot said.

"Baha Mar is a place to relax or to invigorate, depending upon how active a guest chooses to be," he said. "The knowledgeable agents will help the traveler sort out that decision."

Guillot said the resort will sell all-inclusive stays. "Sheraton is offering an all-inclusive option, and we are developing one for Wyndham guests, as well," he said.

As for the competition posed by nearby Atlantis Paradise Island, also a behemoth in terms of size, scope and facilities, Guillot said that Baha Mar "competes on a more global basis."

"In the end, we all need to grow business to the destination, not to just one resort project," he said.

Airlift is a critical factor now and in the future, according to Guillot. He's pleased that an airport upgrade will be taking place in Nassau.

Guillot said Baha Mar was "a big vision" and hinted that the project could be replicated in other destinations.

There are a lot of pylons to be sunk before that happens, however.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].


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