Our Lucaya places its bet on new casino

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FREEPORT, Bahamas -- Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort here on Grand Bahama Island is awaiting the final component to make it a complete Bahamian resort -- a 30,000-square-foot casino.

The casino structure was erected, according to Lisa Bauer, vice president of sales and marketing, but a formal announcement of a casino operator and a government gaming license are both pending.

The facility, which could open by mid-summer, Bauer said, will have entertainment as well as games of chance such as slot machines, blackjack, poker and roulette.

At a recent New York press conference, Eric Waldburger, general manager of Our Lucaya, said the casino component would make the property a formidable competitor for meetings business that now goes to Paradise Island's Atlantis complex.

Based on this past winter and a current bookings influx, the property expects "a good summer," Bauer said -- and having a casino will be a plus. The Memorial Day period was close to a sell-out, while occupancy for the July 4 holiday appears to be around 85% or higher, according to Bauer.

She added that agent support for Our Lucaya's yearlong, Monday Madness incentive has been very strong. Under the program, double commissions are paid on select Mondays; travel can occur on any day. "The phones rang off the hook" when the incentive was announced in late April, Bauer said.

The $450 million, 372-acre Our Lucaya complex -- which opened in December 2000 -- is already in the big leagues even without an operating casino, due to its 1,350 rooms, 40,000-square-foot conference center, 14 restaurants and extensive beach-front operation.

It also has another 90,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space available.

In other news, summer packages for the resort include value-added features, such as free meals for children under the Family Fun package.

Through Sept. 2, children ages 12 and younger stay and eat free; their supervised activities at Camp Lucaya, the resort's club for kids, also are free.

Rates start at $125 per night for a room in Reef Village and $155 per night when staying in a Breakers Cay unit. This new package also includes a daily children's tennis clinic; golf for kids (when accompanied by a playing adult); a weekly golf clinic, and activities at Camp Lucaya.

The camp is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; there are extra evening sessions from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. Supervised activities include water sports, arts, crafts and games. Another option for parents is after-hours baby-sitting services, which can be arranged by Camp Lucaya.

The one-night Summer Fun package, starting from $155 for a Breakers Cay islandview room, is available through Sept. 2. It also includes a $50 credit toward food and beverage, 20% savings on a couples massage at the Senses Spa and free greens fees when renting a golf cart for $35 per person.

There is another package with value-added discounts for children, marketed in conjunction with Discovery Cruise Line. The line's Discovery sails to Freeport from Port Everglades, Fla.

For more information, call (877) 687-5822 or visit www.ourlucaya.com.

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