Despite a chill on arrivals in 2017, the Bahamas is looking ahead to a hot 2018, as forward bookings from Canada have climbed almost 24 per cent for the first seven months of this year.
The Bahamas Tourist Office and Bahamas Ministry of Tourism welcomed media and Canadian travel partners to an informative lunch session in Toronto yesterday (Feb. 22), to recap 2017 and look ahead to a strong 2018.
“The Bahamas is expecting a very robust 2018,” said Dionisio J. D’Aguilar, Bahamas' Minister of Tourism & Aviation. “In short, the Bahamas is hot right now. The numbers will reflect that after a slow three-quarters of 2017, we ended the year on a high: December air arrivals from Canada were up a whopping 24.7 per cent."
In addition to the strong forward booking numbers from Canada already posted, the destination is banking on new and renovated properties to draw even more visitors. Joy Jibrilu, director – general for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, told PAX that the surge in new and refurbished properties was sparked by the opening of Baha Mar, the long-awaited resort development which opened last April after several delays. The multi-resort development, which debuted with the Grand Hyatt and was followed by the opening of SLS Baha Mar in November, will welcome the Rosewood hotel this spring.
“What has occurred as a result of that opening is that so many of our hotel partners have completely refurbished and renovated their own product,” she said.
While the Bahamas were relatively untouched by the record hurricane season which tore through the Caribbean last fall, both Jibrilu and D’Aguilar stressed the importance of communicating the true size of the region to the public, who may have been hesitant to plan a Caribbean getaway following media descriptions of devastation on islands such as Dominica and Barbuda.
“‘Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbuda, Barbados’ is the example I point to in the difficulty of the public in determining which islands exactly were affected by the hurricanes,” D’Aguilar said. “All the countries sound the same and if one was hit, (the public believes that) they all were. While we had a direct hit in the southern Bahamas, that part is sparsely populated; our main population centres were virtually unscathed.”
Dionisio J. D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism & Aviation & Joy Jibrilu, director – general, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
D’Aguilar and Jibrilu also presented attendees with a thorough update of the Bahamas’ new and redeveloped properties. Here’s an overview of the discussion:
Baha Mar – While the Rosewood hotel is slated to open in spring 2018, the SLS opened in November and joined the Grand Hyatt (April 2017) as the second hotel to open at the Baha Mar megaresort. The upscale property features 300 rooms, including 107 residences, world-class décor and a range of dining and nightlife experiences. The three, uniquely designed hotel brands will share amenities including the Caribbean’s largest casino, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, ESPA flagship 30,000-square-foot spa, the largest convention center in the Caribbean, with more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges.
Margaritaville Beach Resort at The Pointe - Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville brand recently announced plans for a $250 million, six-acre development in the heart of downtown Nassau. The property will feature 150 hotel rooms, 150 luxury residences, a marina, water park, entertainment center and signature Margaritaville food and beverage concepts. Construction has already begun, and the project is expected to begin a phased opening in mid-2019. The Pointe project will also include a 45-slip marina and yacht club, and 24,000 square feet of retail space.
Atlantis Paradise Island Resort – In spring 2017, the iconic Bahamian staple introduced opportunities for guests to experience authentic Bahamian traditions focusing on the people and culture of The Bahamas. Opened at The Cove last November was Sip Sip, the renowned Harbour Island restaurant’s first official outpost. Atlantis has also unveiled The Coral at Atlantis, newly renovated to feature new rooms, an updated lobby lounge and an authentic Bahamian ice cream parlor, Sun & Ice. The new Coral pool, designed by Jeffrey Beers, debuted last November for guests of The Coral. Also new at Marina Village will be a showcase of the best of Bahamian culture, taste and spirit including an authentic fish fry, Bahamas’ best conch salad and craft beer from a local brewery. Atlantis has also introduced new ocean-inspired educational experiences and guests that participate in the above experiences will play an important and active role in the resort’s education and conservation efforts via the non-profit Atlantis Blue Project.
Meliá Nassau Beach Resort All-Inclusive- Following a three-year, $19.1 million renovation completed last spring, the new additions to this all-inclusive, family-friendly New Providence resort are now complete. The 694-guest room resort featuring 102 rooms as part of “THE LEVEL”, Meliá Hotels & Resorts’ elevated service concept. Guest rooms and suites feature contemporary Caribbean style decor, along with views of the Atlantic Ocean, three resort pools and lush gardens.
Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas – Opened in 2016, this Adults-only, all-Inclusive resort offers 250 rooms, a spa, four restaurants and an impressive 10,000-square-foot terrace overlooking the harbour.
Hotel Riu Palace Paradise Island – this property has been renovated and reopened as an all-inclusive for Adults Only. Located on Cabbage Beach, the hotel has free Wi-Fi throughout and direct access to the reserved beach. The 350-plus room are equipped with minibars, beverage dispensers, air-conditioning and coffee machines. There are two swimming pools, one with a swim-up bar, and a lounger and parasol area with beverage service, along with a variety of restaurants, including buffets with show cooking, as well as Japanese, Indian and Fusion specialities.
Graycliff – This historic hotel has added two new treats to its menu of experiences. Traditional Afternoon Tea is celebrated with a Bahamian twist. In addition to a fine selection of black, green and herbal imported teas along with Bahamian Bush teas, guests can choose to sip rich Graycliff Organic Coffee. Guests can also learn to blend their own wine opposite Graycliff in a former church, said to be one of the oldest in The Bahamas. The experience is guided by a California winemaker with nearly 20 years of experience.
An artist's rendering of Margaritaville Beach Resort at The Pointe
Grand Bahama Island
Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan – Situated on a 7.5-acre white-sand beach on Grand Bahama Island, Lighthouse Pointe is a 196-room all-inclusive resort, home to an 18-hole championship golf course, two serene swimming pools, tennis courts, a selection of bars and restaurants and a spa.
Bahama House - The property dates back to 1800 and opened in February 2017 following an extensive and stylish restoration. The intimate home-from-home property is located right in the heart of the island and offers guests chic accommodation and a vast array of island adventures such as deep-sea fishing, paddle boarding around the Bay, kayaking, and snorkeling. The house, a series of separate buildings arranged around a central pool, sleeps up to 22 people. Each building offers guests beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces and garden or bay views, there are two fully stocked private bars, a library and a private pool.
STAR (Sustainable Terrain And Resources) Island - a 35-acre cay located off the northern coast of Eleuthera is proving travellers can enjoy sustainability without sacrifice. The island’s integrated off-grid technology runs on solar power, produces pure drinking water and organically grown food while showcasing innovative green architecture to its guests. The Nest, the first phase of the project, includes The Beach Bar & Grill, along with beach cabanas and an organic garden. Visitors can eat lunch by the beach, along with activities like bonefishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling and birdwatching. In phase 2 of the project, beachfront bungalows will be built as well as expansion of the power and water systems and the construction of a hydroponic greenhouse and aquaculture program.
Jack’s Bay – Tiger Wood’s TGR Design is teaming up with Jack’s Bay Developers to develop a beachfront luxury resort and private club at Rock Sound on Eleuthera Island. The first phase of development is currently underway for a Woods-designed 10-hole golf course called “The Playgrounds,” as well as The Pink House Beach Club with a pool restaurant and bar, slated to debut in 2018. Additional plans are in place for an 18-hole course, and more resort amenities, including oceanfront suites, cottages and villas.
Lumina Point- This luxury, eco-resort is located on Stocking Island off the coast of Great Exuma, and is accessible only by the hotel’s private boat. The 12-room property is ecofriendly, powered by solar panels and has its own beach, signature restaurant and spa. Activities offered on-property include yoga, hiking, sailboat rentals and more.