Recent renovations in the Carribean

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Tourism developments in the Bahamas have moved at a fast pace in recent weeks.

AtlantisA recap of tourism-related news follows:

  • Sun International took the wraps off its $480 million Royal Towers project at Atlantis, Paradise Island. The massive, three-day, grand opening party drew luminaries such as Michael Jackson. With 1,202 rooms, the property is the largest in the Caribbean.
  • The 117-room Holiday Inn Junkanoo Beach opened with far less fanfare in downtown Nassau. The hotel is on the site of the former -- and far less fabulous -- Atlantis hotel, which closed in 1993.
  • Aviation figures were looking up as the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism projected 41,000 weekly scheduled and charter air seats to Nassau/ Paradise Island by March, a 25% increase compared with 1998 numbers.
  • The uptick in air seats comes at a time when the room count is expected to increase by 26%. In March, the number of rooms in Nassau/Paradise Island will reach 8,000, according to ministry figures.

    The Bahamas will receive more seats from British Airways, which will substitute 777 aircraft instead of DC-10s on its London-Nassau route, starting March 19.

  • The Bahamas government first approved and then nixed a plan by Lonrho PLC to sell the Princess Towers, Country Club and Casino on Grand Bahama Island.
  • Although the government cited concerns about the schedule for renovations, a tourism ministry spokesman said the government wants to complete the deal in order to speed the upgrade of hotel facilities on Grand Bahama Island.

    Those plans called for the 400-unit Princess Towers to close for a nine-month, $45 million renovation. The relaunched property was to open as a four-star resort managed by an international chain. Phase two of the project called for the renovation of the 565-room country club and the casino, which were to remain open during the towers refit.

    Hotel and casino facilities are to remain open as talks continue between the government and the proposed buyers, a venture owned by Harvard Private Capital and Regent/ French Quarter of Israel. Industry sources expect a new and improved version of the plan to emerge in the near future.

  • The Grand Bahama Beach Hotel here shut down to speed construction of the Lucayan resort, which opens in its place in April. Guests booked through March were offered alternative lodgings at Princess Hotels, Port Lucaya Resort & Yacht Club and Pelican Bay.
  • Agents with tour operator bookings were instructed to contact them directly; clients were not penalized for moves or cancellations.

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