x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Tropical idyll features some big ideas

The Life: You might think that the Middle East was the place to be to visit enormous glitzy hotel resorts, but the Bahamas is giving the region a run for its money.

The Baha Mar resort will open in the Bahamas in late 2014. PRNewsFoto
The Baha Mar resort will open in the Bahamas in late 2014. PRNewsFoto

You might think the Middle East is the only place to be to visit enormous, glitzy hotel resorts.

But with Dh9 billion (US$2.45bn) of backing from China, Baha Mar, a development of 2,200 hotel rooms and private homes in the Bahamas, is giving the region a run for its money.

The largest resort under development in the western hemisphere, the Dh12.5bn mega-resort, which is financed by the Export-Import Bank of China, is so big it could boost the Bahamas' GDP by as much as 10 per cent to $11.2bn within 20 years.

This summer, the company behind the project, which includes Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Mondrian, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, is bringing 307 private houses to the market at sales launches in cities including Dubai, Abu Dhabi , London, Hong Kong and New York.

Prices start at Dh5.5 million and of the 51 units already sold off-plan, 20 of them have been bought by Arab buyers, mostly from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Rick English, the senior vice president for sales and marketing at Baha Mar, said the high level of interest from the Arab world could be attributed to high net-worth individuals searching for a haven due to the Arab Spring.

"We have been surprised by the popularity of these apartments in the Arab world," he said.

"The Bahamas offers a very safe and stable investment and buyers are also drawn by the fact that we offer a deal where owners who rent their apartments back to us can stay in participating hotels around the world, including ones in Mecca and Medina, for free." The development, which is set to be completed in late 2014, is back on track thanks to the Chinese after the previous financial partner Harrah's Entertainment abandoned the project in 2008 due to the financial crisis.

Under the terms of the deal, the resort is being constructed by 7,000 workers from the China State Construction Company.

lbarnard@thenational.ae