“The Pointe Nassau will have a soft opening in mid-2017. The complex will have several components—a hotel, real estate, shopping areas, a parking facility that is already operating,” said Jeannie Gibson, the communications manager for The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism during an exclusive interview in New York City. Gibson was in Manhattan so she and Valery Brown-Alice, senior director of global marketing, could share some of the news from the Bahamas. There’s a lot of it besides the coming of The Pointe:
- The Bahamas has enjoyed a spurt of hotel openings over the past year: the all-inclusive Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas, Lumina boutique hotel on Great Exuma, the Hilton Resorts World Bimini, and, in Nassau, The Island House and Ocean West boutique hotels (in the Cable Beach area) and the Marriott Courtyard.
- But what about Baha Mar? “We’ve told that there might be an opening in 2017, but we have not been given a date,” said Gibson. “We don’t want to do what was done last time: Give a date and not meet it.”
- “The Bahamas has expanded its schedule of events so that whenever visitors come here, there will be something going on so they can experience our culture. For example, New Providence now has a Goombay festival every weekend in July and Junkanoo each weekend in August, and these will be reversed on Grand Bahama Island,” said Gibson. “Other events include the Tru Tru Festival, which debuted in November, Rum Bahamas in February, and the Junkanoo Carnival in May.” The latter takes place on several out islands as well as New Providence.
- “We’ve also become a sports mecca,” added Gibson, and it’s not just fishing, boating, diving, or run-of-the-mill golf; as we were speaking, Tiger Wood was teeing off at the Hero World Challenge. Brown-Alice, a savvy sports fan, reminded me of the Battle for Atlantis in November, the Miami Heat’s new training camp at Atlantis, The Bahamas’ sponsorship of the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins, and, on Dec. 23, the third annual Popeye Bowl. Sure, you could watch the game on ESPN, but it won’t be the same.
- As important as the new events and the opening of new hotels is the re-opening of hotels in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, especially on Grand Bahama Island. These include fishing haven Deep Water Cay, Grand Lucayan’s all-inclusive Lighthouse Pointe, Flamingo Bay Hotel and Marina, Island Seas beachfront condo hotel, and the boutique, canal-front Pelican Bay. The Taino Beach timeshares, all-inclusive Viva Fortuna, and Old Bahama Bay, a genteel resort and marina at the western tip of Grand Bahama Island, will re-open over the next few weeks. Family-friendly, all-inclusive Memories will be back in business Feb. 1, and Breakers Cay at Grand Lucayan will also re-open during the first quarter of 2017.
“Our plan is to have everything back and ready in February, because February and March are the best winter months for us,” said Brown-Alice. Gibson nodded, adding that the hurricane, if nothing else, spurred a lot of sprucing up. “For example, the Viva has spent $9 million on refurbishments.” For more information, visit bahamas.com.