Letters

Special thoughts on Sol Kerzner

Dear Editor,

It is most difficult for me to accept that Sol Kerzner has died at the age of 84.

I had the very good fortune of working with Sol from the day he assumed control and management.

Sol first visited Paradise Island in the mid 1980s and was immediately attracted to the beauty of the island, the breathtaking colors of the ocean and the magnificent beaches.

He subsequently admitted to me in conversation that he knew that if the circumstances were good, he would return to The Bahamas and Paradise Island as an investor without hesitation.

In the meantime, Merv Griffin acquired Resorts International and Paradise Island and used his considerable star power to create Paradise Island into an outstanding destination.

However, fate was unkind to Griffin and his ability to stay in the business was severely diminished.

With apartheid in South Africa coming to an end, Nelson Mandela, who was friendly with Sol, gave him a full and absolute endorsement with the Ingraham government.

Here was the beginning of a tourism journey that was to produce huge rewards for the entire Bahamas and its citizens.

An all-encompassing heads of agreement for the development of Paradise Island was crafted and signed.

The agreement called for the effective transfer of ownership to take place on January 1, 1994 and operational control would be transferred to Kerzner on May 1, 1994.

Here was the beginning of a tourism journey that was to produce huge rewards for the entire Bahamas and its citizens.

Sol immediately became immersed in structurally and decoratively transforming Paradise Island Resort and Casino.

Originally, the name for the resort was going to be “Skull Mountain” with a pirate theme.

However, Igrid Lady Darling, wife of Sir Clifford Darling, governor general, invited Sol Kerzner to tea at Government House, which he accepted.

During tea, Lady Darling advanced the following, “Mr. Kerzner, it is going to be extremely important for the name of the revitalized resort to be one that captures the spirit of what you are doing.”

Sol was intrigued and asked what specifically did she have in mind. Whereupon she began telling the story of the lost continent of Atlantis and how it would arise from the mighty depth of the ocean.

Sol liked the idea very much and after detailed discussions with his development team, there emerged the fairytale of the “lost continent of Atlantis”.

The decision was taken and Atlantis was born.

Thanks to Lady Darling, Atlantis, with the genius of Sol Kerzner, became “the premier resort in this hemisphere”.

Fortunately, the chemistry between Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and Sol Kerzner was special.

After spending $150 million, Atlantis was launched on December 13, 1994, with much celebration.

 

J. Barrie Farrington 

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