Originally scheduled to open December 2014, this Bahamian mega resort has pushed its debut back several times, most recently to September 2015. This hasn’t just led to changes in some people’s vacation plans; it also sparked talk that the resort was in big trouble. While visiting Sandals Royal Bahamian, Pleasant Holidays CEO Jack Richards decided to see Baha Mar for himself, and when he got back to the office, he talked with Recommend’s Caribbean Editor Ed Wetschler.
Ed Wetschler (EW): How in-depth was your visit?
Jack Richards (JR): I conducted a thorough site inspection that lasted four hours. I also talked with senior management and the sales department.
EW: What was your impression?
JR: Baha Mar is much further ahead than you would think from reading about it in the media. In fact, it’s well over 90 percent completed; the only things are a few punch-out items, such as finishing touches on high-end retail shops. The 100,000-sq.-ft. casino is completely finished—it could open tomorrow. Rooms are completed, and they look good. The grounds and swimming pools are finished; the lounge chairs are even installed. Golfers are already playing the Jack Nicklaus TPC course. The managers and the salespeople are upbeat, and they’re selling both FIT and groups.
EW: What kind of groups—weddings?
JR: Yes, and there’s a good-size wedding chapel right on the premises. They’re selling other kinds of groups, too; the 200,000-sq.-ft. convention and arts/entertainment center is state of the art, as are the hotels, casino, and golf course. This is the single largest luxury resort complex ever built in the Caribbean. Remember, too, the airport has not only been renovated, but allows people to go through U.S. Customs before their return flights.
EW: What about the rumors of inadequate staff training?
JR: They are only rumors. Baha Mar took over the Wyndham Nassau Resort and has been conducting in-depth training there for months.
EW: So you’re booking now?
JR: Yes! Today [June 5] Pleasant Holidays started taking reservations for November, and we may move that up to October or even September. Look, we see postponed hotel openings all over the world. This was not unique. Three years from now, nobody will even remember the noise about construction delays.
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