FREEPORT, Bahamas -- When West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Driftwood Hospitality Management purchased the Bahamas Princess Resort & Casino here in May of 2000 for $25.5 million, the company saw great potential.

Consisting of the 100-unit Country Club time-share and the 965-room Tower hotel, the Driftwood property said it seeks to attract a wide range of guests, from couples and families to singles and retirees.

The two-property resort has since been renamed the Resort & Casino at Bahamia and is ready to be rebranded as the first dual-brand property in the Bahamas this winter.

Following extensive renovations, which began almost immediately after the purchase, the Tower will become a Crowne Plaza, while the Country Club is poised to become a Holiday Inn SunSpree.

The Crowne Plaza at Bahamia is being touted as a four-star hotel offering a "quiet retreat for mature adults, honeymoon couples and high-rollers."

The Holiday Inn SunSpree at Bahamia will offer a "more casual, fun-filled environment for families, young adults and travelers seeking value."

"Our goal is to unify the property, both physically and operationally, and create a new destination on Grand Bahama Island," said David Buddemeyer, president of Driftwood.

"Bahamia will offer two distinct hotel products; numerous sports and leisure activities, and a park-like setting for family activities, couples seeking romance and energetic singles looking for a fun-filled getaway," he added.

Noting that the property will boast two distinct hotel products which will be marketed separately, Buddemeyer stressed there will be enough activities to satisfy all types of clientele.

Rooms in the Tower are designated as superior or deluxe, while rooms in the Country Club are offered in standard or medium categories.

Rates vary from $98 to $128 per room, double, through Dec. 20.

The $42 million renovation plan, due to be completed in time for the rebranding of the properties, includes the refurbishing of guest rooms and the casino; updating the restaurants and all public spaces, and upgrading the grounds and golf courses.

To date, renovations consist of:

  • Guest rooms. Six floors of the Tower hotel have been completed and are back in service.
  • By Aug. 15, four buildings at the Country Club will be refurbished inside and out.

    The remainder of the rooms in both properties will be finished by the end of the year. All accommodations received new furniture, soft goods and fixtures.

  • Pool areas. The Tower's pool has been resurfaced and new foliage added, while work on the Country Club pool should be completed by the end of the month.
  • A sand-bottom pool, which will link the properties, was started in April and should be completed by Nov. 1.

  • Casino. The casino is located in the Tower building and a $12 million renovation project is under way.
  • The refit includes 700 new slot machines, enhancements to the sports betting area, the replacement of soft goods in the main gaming area and the addition of the Tonic lounge. Further enhancements are scheduled to be in place by November.

  • Golf. The 18-hole Ruby golf course was redesigned by the Fazio Design Group and will reopen Aug. 15.
  • The 18-hole Emerald course will close next spring for extensive renovations. The total cost for both courses is about $6 million.

  • Restaurants. All of the property's restaurants are being redesigned with new themes, menus and, in some cases, new locations.
  • The Calypso Cafe reopened for buffet meals on July 16; the Palm Grille, with a similar menu, will open Labor Day weekend.

    Also, to open in September is the Coconut Bar, while the Rib Room and Paradiso will be completed by November.

    JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI