Baha Mar slated to open first phase by June, prime minister says


The Bahamas' long-delayed Baha Mar beach resort will open its first phase by June and will be completed by the end of 2017, more than two years after its originally scheduled completion date, according to Bahamas prime minister Perry Christie.

The project will open under the ownership of Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE), whose companies include luxury-hotel operator Rosewood Hotels, Christie said in Dec. 2 remarks to the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association. Rosewood had backed out of its involvement with Baha Mar last year but has become re-engaged.

Baha Mar's primary lender, the China Export-Import Bank, is funding the construction that's necessary to finish the project, which has been estimated to be about 97% complete. CTFE, which said in late October that it was buying the project, will spend $200 million on family and entertainment amenities and pre-opening festivities in addition to the redevelopment of the Crystal Palace Hotel site.

Hyatt Hotels will operate Baha Mar's 1,800-room casino and convention hotel under its Grand Hyatt badge, while a 300-room hotel and a 200-room hotel will fly the SLS and Rosewood flags, respectively.

The original developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, lost control of the project amid delays and financial constraints and was ousted earlier this year. The Baha Mar project ground to a halt last year after Izmirlian and an affiliate of China State Construction Corp., the project's primary contractor, began blaming each other for the delays. That was followed by Izmirlian's failed attempt to file for bankruptcy in a U.S. court.

Baha Mar, the most expensive private project in the Bahamas' history, broke ground in Nassau's Cable Beach area in February 2011. The project, which will include the currently operating Melia Nassau Beach when it completes its renovations and is converted to the Melia at Baha Mar, had been originally scheduled to open by the end of 2014.

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