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Atlantis registers slam dunk weekend

As the Battle 4 Atlantis comes at an end, anticipation for next year is already starting to build – and so will the mega resort’s clientele.

Next year’s elite lineup of teams was revealed during halftime at the championship game between Harvard and Central Florida. It includes an all-star ensemble of college basketball teams that represent the tournament’s rising importance on the international stage.

Duke,  Louisville, Memphis,  Minnesota,  Missouri, Northern Iowa, Stanford, and Virginia Commonwealth University round out the crop for the 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis.

But while this announcement might be good news for sports fans, it’s even better news for the bottom line at Paradise Island.

Michele Wiltshire, senior vice president of special events and entertainment, said the packed rooms and restaurants are one thing.

Equally significant is the international attention Atlantis has and will receive as sports tourism in The Bahamas reaches a new level.

“Certainly our television partners were very pleased,” he told Guardian Business.

“Because of how the games flushed out, we had extended coverage from ESPN, CNN, and various other outlets because it became such a big story. From a business standpoint, it helps us become a more sought-after property for next year. There is a direct business benefit we can capitalize on.”

Wiltshire pointed out that Versus, one station that covered this year’s event, will become NBC Sports Net next year, opening up Battle 4 Atlantis to a major network with cross-network promotion opportunities.

The strong field of teams is expected to not only boost network deals and advertising, but also heighten profits in terms of room revenues and restaurants, as the bigger teams inevitably spark bigger followings.

“These schools have large travelling parties,” she added.

“We have announced the schedule and as soon as we get out to these schools with travel and ticket packages, we’ll see the direct benefit before too long.”

Of course, Atlantis is still revelling in the direct benefit from this past weekend as well.

George Markantonis, the president and managing director of Kerzner International Bahamas Limited, told Guardian Business that, all aspects considered, this was “the most successful Thanksgiving weekend we have ever had”.

The Atlantis chief said the weekend would exceed $2 million in incremental profits. Room occupancy rose by an incredible 40 percent, from the mid-50s into the mid-90s.

Virgil’s, the resort’s $10 million restaurant, opened just in time for the Thanksgiving rush, according to Ian Reid, senior vice president of Food & Beverage.

Adding that the early November launch was part of the resort’s strategy, he told Guardian Business that the weekend “could not have been done properly” without the hundreds of new seats.

“On Thursday, Atlantis cooked 450 turkeys. I think every oven on the resort was working and we served a total of around 10,500 turkey dinners,” he said.

“There is never a dull moment here, but with all the families this weekend was very, very busy. At Virgil’s, we served 700 people for dinner on Friday and another 700 or so on Saturday.”

In keeping with the family focus, Reid explained that, this month, food and beverage is “actually doing better than hotel revenue”.

He said that during this kind of weekend, it’s not uncommon to have more than two people to a room with the high density of families at Thanksgiving. You might be able to share a room, but everything has got to eat, he added.

“It’s a very strong producer and piece of the property. We never make as much as the room division overall, but from a revenue standpoint, we’re doing very well,” Reid said.

In particular, the addition of Virgil’s has given this division at Atlantis the dining space it needs to accommodate large events such as last weekend’s Battle 4 Atlantis, and will continue to pay dividends as the resort gears up for next year.

“Virgil’s has given us mass appeal,” he explained.

“It was an operation where we could do big numbers but not be a buffet. Our customers are looking for something different and adding value to their experience.”

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