Throughout Nassau/Paradise Island, the sense of renewal is strong with the amount of major investments taking on tap. For example, the 2,900-room Atlantis Paradise Island Resort & Casino is undergoing a $65 million renovation of 600 rooms in 2012 and another 600 in 2013. At The Cove Atlantis, the luxury sister resort located next door, 300 of the 600 suites will also be rehabbed this year. Located within walking distance to the Atlantis convention space, The Cove is a welcome surprise for those who haven’t been to the island since opening in 2007. There’s a quiet sense of seclusion and unshowy modernist design, including the tallest lobby we’ve seen in a while that opens up to the sea. Check out private events at the glass-wrapped Seaglass tapas bar in the center of the property overlooking the lushly landscaped pool area leading down to the water.
In terms of island infrastructure, the Lynden Pindling International Airport is scheduled to complete a $410 million expansion project by December 2013. The cruise harbor underwent a $52 million dredging to welcome the world’s largest cruise ships. And Nassau’s famous Straw Market, destroyed by a fire in 2001, was finally reopened just before the conference.
Capping the hillside overlooking downtown, the 5-star, 20-room Graycliff Hotel, first built by a wealthy pirate in the 1720s, is opening an artisan chocolate factory and several artist studios within the Graycliff Historical Village.
The big news is the mammoth project redesigning the Cable Beach region just outside Nassau. Construction is underway for the late 2014 completion of the $3.5 billion Baha Mar, touted as “The New Bahamian Riviera.”
Tucked within 1,000 acres fronting 3,000 feet of white sandy beach, the largest single-phase luxury resort development in Caribbean history will deliver 2,200 upscale rooms in an enclave of four distinguished hotels: a Rosewood, Mondrian, Grand Hyatt and The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel. Expansive meeting facilities will be anchored by the 200,000-sf, Grand Hyatt-operated Baha Mar Convention Center.
“Baha Mar will offer the triple crown for groups,” says Denise Godreau, chief marketing officer. “We have an extraordinarily beautiful property in an exciting location, a state-of-the-art convention facility and a destination that’s easily accessible through direct airlift.”
Planners can tap into a trio of unique spas including a 30,000-sf spa, 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Course and 2,000-seat performing arts center. For functions, there are flexible outdoor spaces surrounding the resort’s pools, beach and eco water park, plus a 50,000-sf retail village. For dining and networking, there will be 30 restaurants and lounges.
“Let’s make some memories together,” says Damien Miller, president of DMC Bahamas, who suggests 4-5 night stays so groups can experience at least one day in The Out Islands of The Bahamas—the hundreds of smaller cays offshore. He offers powerboat daytrips to Exuma or seaplanes tours throughout the island chain.
“And a day on Harbour Island’s pink sand beaches should be on everyone’s bucket list,” he adds. “Planning a group here is easier than one would think. The Bahamas are a 45-minute flight from Miami, there are direct flights from many other U.S. hubs, and private islands are available for over-the-top events.”
Miller is also a big fan of CSR programs, having recently organized a special day for a small group.
“After some creative thinking, we coordinated a special visit to the largest orphanage in the country,” he says. “They toured the place, played games with the children and then revealed the big surprise—a full day at an offshore island swimming with dolphins. Lifelong bonds were made that day.”