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Hotelier looks at Bahamas expansion

A U.S. businessman and owner of two Hampton Inns is eyeing The Bahamas to invest in and is calling the country an area that has potential for “tremendous growth”.

Speaking with Guardian Business while at the 17th Annual National Association of Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD), David Hunt, president & CEO of Hunt Services Inc., said he sees The Bahamas as a “very positive” place to invest in.

“I love going to The Bahamas and I think The Bahamas is a tremendous growth area. I see The Bahamas as a very positive place to invest in,” said Hunt, who also owns several businesses.

“As the economy gets better and people get more discretionary income, people are going to travel more. People are really keen to travel outside of the country so I think that not only Americans are traveling to The Bahamas, I think also the Chinese and persons in different parts of the world also want to come to The Bahamas and enjoy the life and scenery there.”

Hunt was expected to meet with some government officials to discuss the investment potential further outside of last week’s four-day conference, held at the Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel in Miami, Florida.

While at this stage, he could not confirm which island and what type of investment his company will make in The Bahamas, Hunt did say that he would conduct a feasibility study before a decision is made.

“I don’t know yet at what level we will actually come in, whether it’s to build our own hotel or invest in the area, so I am trying to find that out as I go forward,” he said.

“I would have to do a feasibility study but I think Nassau would be the place that I would look at first.”

He believes that the Hampton Inn brand would do well in place like The Bahamas because it is an “affordable, non full-service brand” that would appeal to a budget-conscious traveler.

“It allows us to attract a more conscious purchaser, the kind of traveler who may not have the funds to stay at a five-star hotel. They just want to stay in a real good solid place and that’s why I think our brand would be attractive in your market,” Hunt said.

“Hampton Inn is by far the most attractive brand to Americans because it is not a full-service brand, so you are locked in to a lot of fixed costs, so you are able to control your product and revenue. You are also able to control your expenses, which is a big thing.”

Currently, Hunt owns and operates hotels in Tennessee but is in the process of building a third and fourth one in 2014, along with a brand new Courtyard.

NABHOOD’s President and CEO Andy Ingraham said The Bahamas’ success as a destination will depend on its ability to offer a diverse range of hotel products.

Ingraham believes the Bahamian market needs to tap further into the various “segments” of the hotel market in order to attract “diverse clientele”.

“I think the market is so segmented, so you need mid-market, extended stay, and hotels that can feed off high-end markets. Right now, one of the most successful properties in The Bahamas is really the Comfort Suites, as it feeds off what the Atlantis resort has to offer its guests,” he said.

“I think the more brands that you can have, the more diverse clientele that you can attract. Otherwise, we will be doing ourselves a great disservice.”

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