Founding President of Weller Development Partners Marc Weller is hoping to elevate the landscape of Grand Bahama’s hotel sector with the $200 million investment and construction of Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spa Grand Bahama.
The Thailand-based Six Senses chain started in 1995 and now consists of eco-conscious, luxury hotels, resorts and spas in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America and Fiji.
“We couldn’t be more excited to bring a resort of this calibre to the island,” Weller told Grand Bahama News on Saturday, during a visit to the site in Discovery Bay at the south entrance to the Lucayan Waterway.
The project’s development and investment team – Weller Development Partners and Pegasus Capital Advisors – is proposing the construction of a resort village of 45 prefabricated waterfront and canal villas on a 36-acre site water on the three sides and featuring 2,400 feet of beach. Future plans involve building about 20 private homes designed by architect Olson Kundig.
“The total investment would be north of $200 million between the hotel and the hotel villas, as well as the branded residentials that we plan to build alongside it,” Weller added.
He said developers are looking at beginning the project in 14 months with a 2026 delivery date.
Asked why a 2023 start date for the development, Weller said they are still in the planning stages.
“We are a triple bottom line company. That is important to us. We look at everything when determining a project. We look at the environment, the community and at profitability.
“No one of those things sit above the other. They all sit as clear tenets as to how we do business. For that reason, Grand Bahama fits so many buckets of what our company is attempting to do.”
Additionally, he noted that they are constantly mindful of global warming and its impact on projects like Six Senses.
“So, we are trying to build in certain levels of sustainability that will allow for buildings to withstand hurricanes, flooding issues and other things along those lines,” Weller said.
“We have several different techniques we are using to do that, which we will share with the community as we move forward.”
He added that an essential aspect of the Six Senses brand is its minimal impact on the environment around it.
“These will be lower slung buildings, so they will not be visible from afar,” Weller said.
“They will be one and two-story buildings, with the natural material and colors that will fit the landscape.”
Weller noted that choosing Discovery Bay and Grand Bahama for Six Senses came after an invitation from Rupert Hayward, Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) executive director, to visit the island.
He explained that the beachfront property was for sale, it was accessible to the airport, and added up to a wonderful place to start.
“And deciding on Grand Bahama … during my initial visit, I quickly realized there were so many incredible attributes to the island. Obviously, its people and natural beauty, plus it was 58 miles off West Palm Beach,” Weller said.
“That really struck me as interesting, to be that close to the United States. Also, the infrastructure that was in place. I thought that was amazing.
“I have had to do exceptionally large infrastructure projects in the past and they are incredible amounts of work. The time and energy it takes to build a road, install water and sewer (systems); all that exists here in Grand Bahama.”
In a statement announcing the project earlier this month, the company said the development will receive an investment from the Global Fund for Coral Reefs to provide capital and technical assistance leading to increased resilience of reefs and the communities that depend on them.
It promised that the project will create hundreds of jobs for Bahamians, both in the construction phases and when the resort opens.
“One priority is to recruit from the communities directly surrounding the project and the aim is to partner with Blue Action Lab to collaborate with the local community on job training and skills enhancement,” the company said.
Weller confirmed that there will be many opportunities for employment.
“One of the things that is interesting in starting a brand in a project like Six Senses Hotel is that it really starts and creates an incredibly hot fire on the island to build from,” he added.
Weller said the beachfront project is an opportunity that was only a dream a few years ago when developers started.
“It is now starting to become a reality and I want to thank the government, particularly Prime Minister Philip Davis, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper and Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey,” said Weller.
“They have been very helpful and promised to do whatever it takes to get this project going.”