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Developer plants $4M flag on Rum Cay

A three-phase, multimillion-dollar development is now underway in Rum Cay, Guardian Business can reveal, as four key investors seek to harness a boutique hotel market and “plant our flag in a crucial gateway”.

With up to $4 million being invested in phase one and two, Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts is targeting an endgame whereby they can create a “neighborhood community with a resort centerpiece” by partnering with local landowners.

Mark Ellert, the president and investor in the company, said slow, organic development is the name of the game.

“It’s fair to say our principle focus is to find the gateway locations,” Ellert said, pointing to the developer’s first project on Bimini.

“I concluded that there has to be a way to properly market smaller boutique hotels in these rustic, strategically placed locations. Eco-tourism is becoming a big component.”

Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts will partner with Bobby Little, an entrepreneur and landowner on Rum Cay, to develop and update existing infrastructure ahead of the busy summer fishing season on May 1. Phase one involves renovating the restaurant, marina and cottages on the land. Once the summer season is over, work will begin on

expanding the marina, fuel dock, building eight new cottage units and constructing a pool, bar and other amenities.

“We should have the ability to accommodate around 50 guests with 28 slips,” Ellert told Guardian Business.

“From a tourism aspect, we like the gateway aspect. All of the boats transmitting into the Caribbean go right through Rum Cay. It’s the last chance saloon.”

The resort in Bimini, Ellert added, has 51 rooms and cottages along with 75 slips.

Dr. Guy Harvey, the entrepreneur and marine scientist, is not only one of the driving forces behind the development, but also a strong voice for sustainability and environmentally conscious business endeavors.

“In addition to fantastic diving there, we intend to work with government in expanding the coral and shark research work of the Guy Harvey Research Institute, which is a cornerstone of our Outpost program in The Bahamas.”

Part of the appeal of the new resort, Ellert added, will be both world-class fishing and diving, along with a focus on sensitivity to the environment.

As a business model, the growing development company thinks it will attract tourists out of the U.S. and beyond. Rum Cay, just 30 square miles in size, has only 60 permanent residents.

Rugged and unspoiled, the third-phase vision of the developer is to engage local stakeholders in an effort to join forces and create a destination resort.

Ellert explained the company is already in talks with several homeowners in the area to represent them as rental properties, essentially placing them under the Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts umbrella. The idea, in the end, would be to have a collection of independent properties with the restaurant, marina and amenities as the heart.

But first things first, Ellert said.

Given Rum Cay’s size and relatively remote location, the developer plans to grow gradually, create relationships with niche diving and fishing groups, and court airlines to ensure reliable transportation.

“The major challenge is airlift,” he said.

“There is no commercial service right now. We have a couple of strategies. We are in the process of negotiating a twice weekly charter service from the new Nassau airport to Rum Cay.”

Other strategies, he added, are to establish close relationships with U.S. airlines out of Fort Lauderdale, such as Sun Air, which now flies to remote locations such as Cat Island.

Employment is also a concern for the new development, as they will require at least 15 new jobs after the second phase of work. They will tap the local community first, he said, but workers in the other Bahamian islands will likely be courted to come on board.

Ultimately, the goal, Ellert said, is to create a sustainable development on Rum Cay that will fuel the local economy and generate more buzz and interest in The Bahamas at large.

“Our goal is to create the notion you have a private island at your disposal,” he said.

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