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Arawak Cay undergoes ‘transformation’

Amid the glitz and glamour associated with Bahamas Speed Week (BSW), it’s sometimes easy to forget the small businesses that are poised to prosper ahead of next week’s event.

Dwight Armbrifter, the owner of Dwight’s Place, says “there is no money left in my pocket.”

However, he’s not complaining.

Armbrifter has invested $55,000 to spruce up his water-side restaurant, including painting, extension of the decks and other upgrades to the premises.

And now, he’s ready to cash in as the racing world turns its focus to Arawak Cay.

“Arawak Cay has been revitalized,” he told Guardian Business. “There has been a total change. Everything has improved and the standards have risen.”

Beyond his own restaurant, tucked in at the back of Arawak Cay, he explained that a wide variety of businesses have all “upped their game” ahead of what is expected to be one of the country’s biggest tourism events of the year.

In other words, if Sir Stirling Moss, the legendary race car driver, and more than $100 million worth of vintage vehicles are gracing the temporary track on Arawak Cay, the area better look the part.

Government has sprung to action – in particular, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, which arranged for the area to be cleaned and freshly paved. Landscaping has also taken place, Armbrifter pointed out, including the introduction of more green areas and planted trees.

In response, local entrepreneurs have responded.

“The level of international exposure has forced a lot of vendors to up their game by improving the exteriors, cleaning up the restaurants and generally improving the overall quality of food,” Armbrifter added.

“It has all fallen into place at the right time.”

In addition to improvements to the main strip, he pointed out that behind the restaurants, traditionally a dumping ground for garbage, has been cleaned up and cleared out due to the need for more open space.

He called the process a “transformation” for the Arawak Cay area.

With BSW kicking off on Nov. 30, entrepreneurs such as Armbrifter are rubbing their hands together and anticipating a boost in sales.

But the owner of Dwight’s Place isn’t expecting a complete turnaround, even though his establishment has been officially deemed  the “home of Bahamas Speed Week Revival”. He said the event will hopefully the beginning of greater exposure not only for his investment, but also the other businesses in the area.

“The country is going to be showed here,” he told Guardian Business.

“I would hope because of the level of publicity that the business will come. Both locally and internationally, it will give the area exposure it needs.”

This week, BSW released its official list of entrants at a press conference.

Among the illustrious list of individuals importing cars to the event is Rob Walton, the chairman of Walmart, who is reportedly worth an estimated $21 billion.

A number of superyachts will be sailing in for the occasion, with hotels such as Atlantis and the One & Only Resort benefitting from an increase in room sales.

On Tuesday, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, the minister of tourism and aviation, told the crowd at a press conference that BSW had caught the imagination and enjoys full support from the government.

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