Big boost for Atlantis
After experiencing a two-year slump brought on by the global economic crisis, Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island is expecting to see bookings in November rise as high as 90 percent, President and Managing Director of Kerzner International Bahamas George Markantonis said yesterday.
“Bookings have continued to be strong and the good news is that we [have] an excellent fall season in bookings,” said Markantonis at a press conference at Atlantis.
“The last two years, 2009 and 2010, the occupancies for our Thanksgiving week have been exactly 53 percent. This year, it looks like we are going to run in the low 90s, maybe 90-91 percent,” he said.
“The key is that we have a lot of special events and some very prestigious groups staying with us.”
One of those events is the Battle 4 Atlantis, a college basketball tournament that will take place between November 23 and 27.
“We brought this tournament and put it there to try to highlight The Bahamas and attract business,” he said.
“We have done deals with two television networks that are going to cover live, all 12 games. HDTV (HDNet) is going to cover half the games and they have a viewership of 20 million people in North America and NBC Sports will carry the other half of the games live, and they have access to 75 million viewers.
“This is going to be 22 to 30 hours of live programming from The Bahamas over the Thanksgiving weekend and that has got immeasurable value to this destination. If you’re not into football, there is Battle 4 Atlantis.”
Markantonis said that the ALHI group, which brought together about 250 of the top meeting planners and hoteliers in North America, could also be equally important to the rise in bookings.
“Three or four of my counterparts from Las Vegas mega properties were here and really, they were here so that The Bahamas could be showcased as well as Atlantis,” he said.
“Between them they probably account for $1 billion worth of potential meeting business. So we hope that the phones will start ringing in the next few months and that we are going to get some good business out of that investment.”
Markantonis said that group bookings are also on the rise this year.
“We will finish the year 35 percent ahead of 2010 in actual room nights,” he said.
He said bookings are expected to increase straight into 2013.
“Hopefully, if we get a lot of repeat business we will continue to see this growth for Atlantis which is positive,” Markantonis said.
Markantonis also confirmed that Kerzner International remains in negotiations to restructure its $2.6 billion mortage debt.
Atlantis remains the largest private employer in The Bahamas.
In 2008, it laid off 800 people as the economic crisis set in. However, Markantonis confirmed that several hundred people have been added to the staff in recent months.
The resort recently opened Virgil’s Barbecue Restaurant, which employs 181 Bahamians.