Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar yesterday said he was disappointed by Baha Mar’s decision to remain closed until October and pointed to the Atlantis resort’s “bullish” approach to reopening.
In a letter to staff released on Friday, Baha Mar President Graeme Davis said that due to the evolving nature of COVID-19 and the resulting economic downturn in the United States, the resort made the difficult decision to postpone the reopening date beyond the July 1 reopening of The Bahamas to sometime in October.
“I guess I’m disappointed that they cannot open as quickly as we had all hoped. But I guess we understand the reason for their decision. They’ve obviously looked at the state of travel in the world and concluded that it is not as robust as we would have hoped, and certainly not robust enough for them to open and not sustain substantial losses,” D’Aguilar told Guardian Business in response to the announcement.
“So they’ve obviously decided that given what they perceive to be the level of demand for travel to a warm weather destination, they’ve obviously concluded that the demand is not sufficient to allow their business model to operate at a state that is economically viable.
“It is disappointing but you know it is the state of COVID-19 today. There’s a lot of uncertainty and this is very new for everybody, and people are naturally quite cautious on how they wish to proceed.”
The Melia Nassau Beach resort, which sits adjacent to Baha Mar, has also announced it will remain closed until October.
Atlantis Paradise Island resort, the country’s single largest private employer and largest bookings holder for room nights, said last week that it is preparing to welcome its first guests to the resort on July 7.
In response to Guardian Business inquiries last week regarding how many guests are expected when the property reopens, Atlantis President and Managing Director Audrey Oswell said, “Atlantis will reopen the newly renovated Royal on July 7th and we expect the resort to be full.”
D’Aguilar said it appears that Atlantis is more certain about its prospects reopening at such uncertain times.
“Obviously, Atlantis is a lot more bullish and obviously their marketing machinery is robust enough to fill a portion of the property; and it is encouraging that they feel they can operate a portion of their property while minimizing their losses,” he said.
“They have obviously concluded that it would be economically viable for them to open and they are proceeding forth with that decision. Once again, the situation is very fluid and certainly Baha Mar indicated that if they saw a robust increase in demand then they would reconsider their decision.
“But I guess for Atlantis, it’s probably advantageous that they are the only large resort that will be operational, at least at the outset, which gives them a chance to receive the occupancy levels that they hope to achieve.”
Sandals Royal Bahamian has also indicated that it will delay its reopening until later this year.