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OBB Resort pursues ‘critical mass’ development

Old Bahama Bay Resort (OBB Resort), together with the Canadian developer The Crave Group, will be pursuing slow, sustainable development in Grand Bahama, Guardian Business can reveal, with the old model of the mega resort now “a thing of the past”.

Lorne Bassell, the CEO and president of The Crave Group, said OBB Resort plans to build approximately 25 to 30 homes on the western tip of Grand Bahama, more specifically on Harbour Island, and slowly expand outwards.

It officially announced its partnership with West End Resort Ltd (WERL), a key landowner in the area at yesterday’s Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit at Atlantis.

“We are growing slowly and organically, beginning on Harbor Island,” he told Guardian Business.

“We want to avoid the dumb bell effect, whereby you have development all the way on one end and more development on the other, with little in between. First you must create a critical mass of development. We don’t have a choice.”

Speaking on a panel concerning the future of second homes, Bassell felt the future for the market was smaller, more sustainable developments that offer a cultural, authentic feel.

The general sentiment at the conference is that lenders are becoming more open to ideas, but only if the project focuses on fundamentals and makes sense. Good history, good assets and a realistic growth plan are crucial, Basset said.

The desire now for OBB Resort and The Crave Group, along with WERL, is to build a “natural hideaway” for investors.

The concept of a hotel and casino, he added, has been placed on the back burner. Although it’s a concept that can be considered in the future, “that’s not today’s project”, he said.

“You can’t have a hotel that loses $500,000 a year to get people to buy homes,” he said.

Meanwhile, the partnership with WERL could have major ramifications for stakeholders in the area. The alliance creates stability, community and a renewed air of certainty for the area.

The announcements from OBB Resorts comes shortly after G-LA Resorts acquired the assets from the former Ginn Sur Mer project after the owners foreclosed in overdue loans. The group has also hired a Canadian firm of their own – which according to Derek Gape, the senior project manager at OBB Resorts, bodes well for everyone.

Similar to a paradigm shift focusing on slower, more sustainable development, the new age must also include improved cooperation and shared responsibilities for everyone to be successful.

“The project is large,” Gape told Guardian Business.

“You could have six different projects and they wouldn’t be competing. The perfect world is we settle any differences and come together.”

In keeping with this spirit, OBB Resort is calling on G-LA Resorts to live up to its own individual commitments. For example, issues of security has now being divided, with each area responsible for their own issues. Although many of the lands intersect in terms of ownership, OBB Resort said G-LA will be handling the airport, and the general atmosphere is promoting a “parcelling of responsibilities”.

He referred to the Grand Bahama projects as a “community of owners” that must coordinate and communicate.

Bassell noted this includes working in tandem to offer varied and complementary services – and making sure everyone remains economically secure.

“Important words are being said these days,” he said.

“We are looking for follow through now.”

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