Margaritaville CEO confident of tourism’s return

Chief Executive Officer of Margaritaville Holdings John Cohlan said yesterday the newest addition to its group of resorts, Margaritaville Beach Resort at The Pointe Bahamas, exceeded all of his expectations.

During a ribbon cutting ceremony at the property in the heart of Downtown Nassau yesterday, Cohlan said what is most impressive to him about the resort are the smiles on the faces of the approximately 150 new Bahamian employees.

“Its remarkable, five years ago this was a sandpit basically and in town, not the most logical, typical place for a beach resort and our partners, both the China Construction Company with the support of the government just had an unbelievable vision. We have a design team that does all of our properties and they embraced our design team with great support. Quite honestly while I knew this was going to be great, I can truly say this has exceeded all of my expectations,” he told Guardian Business following a tour of the 155-room resort.

Asked if he is happy with the pace of tourism activity that has returned to The Bahamas, Cohlan said, “Absolutely and the most striking element of that, and I mean this seriously, is all the smiles on all the people. I’ve been here for two days and the staff is just spectacular. We spent a lot of time training because we’re about staff having fun, being welcoming and obviously we started with a culture and a group of people for whom that is very natural, so the smiles really jump out at me.”

However, Cohlan admitted that the resort is opening at a strange time for the travel and hospitality sector. Despite subdued global travel and the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry, he’s confident the resort will be filled with guests in the coming months.

“I’m concerned just in general for the world in terms of what’s going on now, I mean until recently with this latest variant all of our resorts in America have been outperforming 2019. There’s pent up demand, the experience with the virus was changing as vaccines rolled out,” he said.

“Now of course we’re finding ourselves with this new variant and a bit of the unvaccinated issue, but I’m hopeful that all of this publicity that we’re seeing now about how well the vaccine works will compel many people who haven’t yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated.”

In addition to the hotel, Margaritaville Beach Resort also features 129 condominium units, the Fins Up! Waterpark which includes a 1,000-foot lazy river, a spa, conference rooms, a grand ballroom and various restaurants, bars and shops.

“The restaurant JWB, the steak and seafood restaurant, my understanding is it’s gotten a lot of great reviews and engagement with the local community, because really the hotel hasn’t been open and I think that’s just terrific. We just want as many people to experience what we’ve created as much as possible,” Cohlan said.

Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the developments at The Pointe are a part of an ongoing transformation of the country’s tourism product and offerings on New Providence.

“This is the first Margaritaville Beach Resort with a water park in The Bahamas. It is a tremendous addition to the revitalization of downtown. This complex boasts high-end facilities for both residents and visitors to The Bahamas. The complex is adorned with Bahamian artistry and includes retail space for Bahamian art and crafts,” he said.

“Just as with other urban centers around the world, the long-term revitalization of Downtown Nassau will require residential properties for Bahamians and residents. Such residential development is necessary for the growth of other businesses, such as restaurants, shops, convenience stores and other commercial enterprises. Moreover, such developments will result in many millions in investments. The residential area at Margaritaville is a harbinger of things to come in terms of residential properties downtown.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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