Billed as the largest single-phase resort development in the history of the Caribbean, the 1,000-acre, $3.4 billion resort, gaming and entertainment complex is slated...

The huge new Baha Mar resort near Nassau in The Bahamas has begun construction, the official ground-breaking ceremony taking place on February 21.

Billed as the largest single-phase resort development in the history of the Caribbean, the 1,000-acre, $3.4 billion resort, gaming and entertainment complex is slated to open in late 2014 and will include some of the world’s best-known hotel brands.

“Baha Mar, born from a singular vision, is surprisingly breathtaking in its magnitude. The vision of Baha Mar started more than five years ago with a plan to deliver an authentic Caribbean experience combining the essence and spirit of The Bahamas with the distinction of luxury resorts,” said Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar’s Chairman and CEO, at the ground-breaking ceremony. “The world famous, crystal clear Bahamian water, stunning white sand beaches, and authentically friendly people are the foundation for our unique destination, filled with vibrant experiences in entertainment, gaming, hospitality and service.”

Baha Mar’s ground-breaking ceremony featured numerous VIP speakers, including Sir Michael Barnett, Chief Justice; The Honourable T. Brent Symonette, Deputy Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; The Honourable Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Minister of Tourism & Aviation; Li Ruogu, Chairman & President, The Export-Import Bank of China; His Excellency Hu Dingxian, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; and Liu Jinzhang, VP, China State Construction Engineering Company Ltd.

Event highlights included Lion Dance and Junkanoo performances, representing a fusion of Bahamian and Chinese cultures.

“This is a historic day not only for Baha Mar, but for The Bahamas, our partners, and, just as significantly, for the global tourism industry,” continued Izmirlian. “Baha Mar represents an unprecedented alliance of powerhouses in the hospitality, financial and construction industries, and signals a shifting of sands for the travel industry. Baha Mar represents the birth of a new generation of destination resorts that will compete on a worldscale.”

This photograph shows Baha Mar Chairman and CEO Sarkis Izmirlian and guests, including Chinese VIP dignitaries, turning over the symbolic first shovelfuls of earth at the April 21, 2011 groundbreaking ceremony for the $3.4 billion, 1,000-acre Baha Mar resort. The resort, located on the Bahamian Riviera near Nassau, is billed as the largest single-phase resort development in the history of the Caribbean and the only resort development of its scale in the western hemisphere

Baha Mar’s will create a collection of well-known, high-quality hotel brands, including Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Morgans Hotel Group, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and a Casino Hotel, creating a total of 2,250 new rooms within four new hotels.

The resort says it will have the largest convention center in The Bahamas, with 200,000 square feet of space. The convention center is designed to double as an entertainment venue and sports arena. Baha Mar says its new 100,000-square-foot casino will also be the largest in the Caribbean.

A 20-acre Eco Water Park and pool complex and three spas – including the largest spa in the Caribbean – will be situated on the Bahamian Riviera, along 3,000 feet of beach. A planned 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Course will be one of only a few top-tier Nicklaus golf courses in the world, and according to Baha Mar will be the only true championship course in The Bahamas.

Other amenities will include a 50,000 square-foot retail village combining upscale shopping with Bahamian arts and crafts, chef-branded restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Tourism accounts for 60 per cent of the Bahamian gross domestic product (GDP), and current estimates are that Baha Mar will contribute an additional 10 per cent growth in the Bahamian GDP.

Baha Mar says it represents a direct benefit to The Bahamas through the creation of 12,000 new jobs and the corresponding contribution of more than $305 million in annual wages. According to projections, Baha Mar will help raise the average annual income for a Bahamian family from $29,000 to $33,500, and in its first year of operations will contribute almost $1 billion to the local economy.

According to Baha Mar, its long-term benefits to The Bahamas will also include $4.7 billion in tax revenue and a GDP contribution of $11.2 billion over a 20-year period.

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