Baha Mar retains Arawak Cay marinaoption
The government has committed to lease a parcel of land at the western end of Arawak Cay to Baha Mar’s project company, should Baha Mar exercise its option to build a marina at that location, and pending the requisite approvals and agreement on lease terms.
A marina has long been a part of Baha Mar’s vision, and the Arawak Cay option included in the amended and restated Heads of Agreement made January 31, 2011 between the Government of The Bahamas and Baha Mar Ltd. may allow the company to get around concerns about a negative environmental impact that would come from any Cable Beach coastal or inland development. For now, however, any marina and its possible location are only options.
“We always considered as part of our master plan some type of marina,”Robert Sands, senior vice president of government and external affairs at Baha Mar toldGuardian Businessyesterday.”In the very early stages of our planning, the location that we had considered was perhaps not the best environmentally as far as the government authorities were concerned, so we explored options and this is currently an option that we have not exercised as yet.”
Under the terms of the option as laid out in the amended and restated Heads of Agreement tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday, any marina development by Baha Mar would be subject to comprehensive engineering and environmental studies and government approval.
The Arawak Cay option, if Baha Mar moves to include a marina in its product offering and selects that site, would include the lease of an undisclosed quantity of land at the western end of Arawak Cay”at a favorable rate and otherwise on terms to be mutually agreed,”according to the amended and restated Heads of Agreement.
According to Sands, the company is watching what happens in areas such as the luxury cruise industry to see where opportunities may present themselves, and though the company’s attention has been elsewhere, he said it was good to have the option.
“We are market-driven and therefore if at the time we decide that the venture would prove advantageous to adding to the amenities that we currently have, then that will in fact be pursued,”said Sands.”We have not given it focused attention at this time, but as in most things, you want to leave your options open for future consideration.”
In an evolving tourism industry, the ways that people choose to visit a destination will be varied, and visitors who arrive by cruise ship and pleasure craft may become increasingly important, said Sands. He also acknowledged the growing ship registry in The Bahamas and opportunities that may create.
“I think what is significant is that there is no question that maritime services to The Bahamas will become a faster growing industry and I believe that could have spin-off benefits,”Sands said.
The$2.6 billion Baha Mar project on Cable Beach will add about 2,200 rooms to hotel inventory, creating a 3,500 room resort and new casino on the Cable Beach strip. Under the Heads of Agreement, construction for the project is to be”substantially” completed by December 31, 2014.