Old Bahama Bay Resort under new management

From the Old Bahama Bay Blog:

Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbour invites guests to rediscover the sunny skies and gracious smiles of West End, Grand Bahama Island this fall as the resort re-launches with new management and exciting new affiliations. Old Bahama Bay is celebrating this milestone by offering a $150.00 per night room rate with a third night free in the hotel from September 4th through October 31st, 2012. Dockage in the marina is being offered at $1.00 per foot per night!

In early August 2012, a new management team took over resort operations spearheaded by Island Ventures Resort & Club, Ltd., a new hospitality company that is owned by the Old Bahama Bay property owners and whose principals were involved in opening and operating Old Bahama Bay from 2001 to 2007.

Old Bahama Bay is now a Guy Harvey Outpost Expedition Property: Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts & Marinas is a collection of properties in unique destinations owned and staffed by people who are passionate about their time on, in, and around the water.

Stuart Cove now operates an award-winning scuba diving operation directly from Old Bahama Bay. Guests can dive with sharks, rays, and other exciting sea life from a high-speed dive boat. Offered 3 times a week, the all-day Tiger Beach Shark Excursion offers a truly unique way to interact with these amazing creatures. The diving off of West End includes excellent wrecks, reefs, walls and wild dolphins – all located within an easy ride from the dock.

The new management team also has plans to make the following immediate improvements:

  • Upgrade the resort’s activities programs including the purchase of new bicycles and water sports equipment.
  • Restart weekend promotional events including beachfront bonfire cookouts and live Bahamian entertainment.
  • Restart its very special wedding programs

For more information or reservations please call 1-888-800-8959, email sales@oldbahambay.com or visit www.oldbahamabay.com.

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West End Hospitality History

With the opening of the “New” Old Bahama Bay, here is some history on West End.

West End has a colorful history and today the picturesque fishing village is still a popular tourist destination in the Bahamas. The settlement has a reputation for being hospitable and friendly – and the atmosphere is one of cool breezes and beautiful sunsets.  West End is the oldest settlement on Grand Bahama Island and is considered its historical capitol.

In 1948 England’s Sir Billy Butlin decided to expand his Butlin’s Holiday Camps to West End by building Butlin’s Vacation Village.  This lasted only a couple of years. The property sat dormant for awhile until the opening of the Jack Tar Village Resort in 1951 by the Sammons family of Dallas, Texas.

The Jack Tar was one of the most lavish resort properties in the Bahamas and was the first Caribbean all-inclusive hotel. The resort included an airfield, a marina, a complex of canals, a commercial wharf, a 424-room hotel, 16 tennis courts, a 27-hole golf course and the largest saltwater swimming pool in the western hemisphere.   Jack Tar Village, along with the West End Community, prospered in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The resort was closed in 1988 when Mr. Sammons passed away.

In 1997, West End Resorts Ltd. began the development of the Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbour on the site of the old Jack Tar Village Resort.  The new resort first opened with 72 marina slips in August 1999.  The first hotel rooms came to market in May 2001. In 2004, 25 additional rooms and suites were added, and in 2007 a final 24 units were opened – bringing the total guest accommodations to 73.

In September of 2004, Grand Bahama Island was hit directly by two powerful hurricanes. Hurricane Frances made landfall on September 3rd and just two weeks after came Hurricane Jeanne.  A year later, Hurricane Wilma visited the area.  All rooms, slips, amenities, and facilities were repaired and made new.

In January of 2007, Ginn Resorts became the managing entity for Old Bahama Bay and briefly renamed the resort Ginn sur Mer to make it part of its adjacent 2,000 acre community.  Ginn Resorts filed for bankruptcy in 2009, eventually leading to Old Bahama Bay’s current new management by Island Ventures Resort & Club, Ltd., a new hospitality company that is owned by Old Bahama Bay property owners and whose principals were involved in opening and operating Old Bahama Bay from 2001 to 2007.

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Six months since title transfer

Six months has passed since the transfer of the development to the lenders group. While the new management company, Replay Resorts, has provided some information to lot owners, we are still anxiously waiting for an announcement regarding the direction of the development. Hopefully we will hear some news later this spring.

At the time of the transfer, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas stated that the lenders group told the government “that during the first six months following the Lenders becoming the absolute owners of the mortgaged lands, they propose to focus on: master planning; re-engaging the marketplace; commencing a builders’ program; construction of model homes; and preparing for sales launch.”

Other updates: The latest I have heard the airport is still closed. I will have some updated pictures of the houses under construction next week.

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Construction continues going vertical

Tommy Logan from Logan Construction Group sent me some recent photos of the double lot house going up in the development. With ScotiaBank starting to provide construction financing, and Replay shortly presenting their new master plan for the community, we should hopefully see more housing starts this year.

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Less Atlantis, more like Green Turtle Cay and Hope Town

In an interview with the Tribune, Replay Resorts’ chief operating officer Bill Green said their plans for the development “was now more to emulate the Family Island-style of living epitomised by communities such as Green Turtle Cay and Hope Town,” rather than the previous mega-resort concept.

Green thinks refocusing the development is the right approach, and plans to cater to buyers that intend to remain long term owners and not flippers.

Replay is still in the process of making modifications to the master plan. “We’re very cautious, because we think that if this next phase of development does not succeed, it will be a very severe blow to the development, so we want to make sure we don’t miss.”

“Connectivity to the water” and the close proximity to Florida’s boating community will remain among highlights of the development. They plan to share their plans with the owners soon.

To stimulate home construction, Replay has arranged for home construction financing through Scotiabank and plans to build several model homes. They also announced today that they have cut the builder fee from 8% to a flat $5000.

Regarding the relationship with Lubert Adler, Green said that Replay are “proceeding on an individual path”. “We have had many meetings and conversations with them, and wish them well. We need everyone to succeed here, but it’s difficult to ascertain their plans and timing. A successful formula is one that enables us to proceed on our own.”

Painting by Pat Anderson

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Airport temporarily closed, should open soon

The airport within the development temporarily closed late last year, following the transfer of the property to the new owners Resort Holdings / Replay Resorts.

Replay has worked to secure a new operating agreement with the Bahamas government, and following an inspection of the runway and re-staffing they expect to open the airport to lot owners shortly.

Local staff is planned to be available “on-call”, so pilots can expect more flexible hours of operations compared to the past.

If you plan to access the resort by plane, please notify Michael Guenter from Replay so he can add your tail number to the list of restricted users.

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Lubert Adler transfers management of Old Bahama Bay hotel to Condo owners

Lubert Adler’s OBB Resort today announced that they plan to transfer management of the Old Bahama Bay hotel to the resort’s condo owners, but plan to continue operate the marina and food and beverage operations.

The condo owners has not yet publicly stated whether they plan to keep the hotel open. All employees directly involved in the rental and property management would fall under the the responsibility of the 73-unit condo owners.

More info as we get it.


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Two developers, one West End

A clearer picture of the development’s future is starting to take shape. Going forward there are two intertwined developers on the property, Replay Resorts on behalf of the Resort Holdings (aka Credit Suisse Lending Group / G-LA Resorts) and Crave Real Estate Ventures on behalf of LRA OBB Resorts (Lubert Adler) / West End Resort (WERL).

Replay manages all the red areas in the map above (larger map), which include:

  • Existing unsold lots
  • Majority of the undeveloped land, specially on the east side of the property.
  • Airport
  • Gate House and Beach Clubs

Crave manages the other areas (excluding West End Settlement), which include:

  • Golf Course (dedicated to the use for all owners)
  • The “Core” and North Shore next to Old Bahama Bay
  • Water and Sewer Utility Plants
  • Old Bahama Bay Resort and the connected residential development

With the land holdings intermingled, it is important that both teams agree on a unified vision for the development and work in tandem to offer complementary services and amenities. This is fairly common in the development of properties as large as West End.

Lorne Bassel, President of Crave, told the Bahamas Weekly that the “West End region is now a community of developers, not just a single entity. What that means is that present and future property owners can take comfort in the diversity of expertise and the concentration of focus. We’re happy to see other developers and investors involved. Anyone who understands this industry knows that having more participation from distinct contributors is beneficial to the entire effort, especially in today’s market.”

He expanded, “This new community structure allows all other stakeholders to assume control of their lands rather than rely on one company for all services. Many resorts have moved away from a ‘one ownership’ structure and become extremely successful. There are simply more people to carry the load.”

Bassel acknowledged to the Tribune that investor confidence in West End had been undermined by “the involvement of so many parties, together with uncertainty over division of land/responsibilities and the protracted process for the Credit Suisse-led lending syndicate to take control,” but added that clarity will be restored.

While both developers are still tuning their plans, it is clear that the previous mega resort concept is a “a thing of the past.” Instead expect a more sustainable, eco-friendly development with an authentic feel.

Basset told the The Nassau Guardian that “the concept of a hotel and casino has been placed on the back burner.” To The Tribune he added that they “are doing what we can to stimulate interest [with external investors], and it’ll come when the market and the financing is available. We are talking to different groups. We are making sure the opportunity is known internationally, but we aren’t pushing too hard.”

Instead, Crave plans to first build 25-30 homes on the western tip of Harbor Island (behind the OBB marina) through a partnership with West End Resort and slowly expand from there.

Derek Gape, senior Project manager for OBB Resorts told the Bahamas Weekly that “with the Old Bahama Bay condo hotel and marina as the existing anchor property, we are working to extend that success along the north shore beach land. That’s the natural and obvious path of progression for the property.”

Replay has not announced plans for their parcels yet, but is actively seeking input from existing lot owners through surveys and phone conversations.

News Clippings

OBB Resort pursues ‘critical mass’ development

Old Bahama Bay owners clarify the situation on land ownership and responsibilities in West End developments




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Vision Airlines starts five direct flights to Grand Bahama

Vision Airlines has started direct flights to Grand Bahama from Ft Lauderdale, FL, Louisville, KY, Richmond, VA, Raleigh/Durham, NC and Baltimore/Washington airports.

The new fares will start as low as $99 round trip from Ft Lauderdale and as low as $149 each way from the other cities (plus taxes and fees).

“These new flights will help to revitalize the tourism economy for Grand Bahama Island.  The Island is gorgeous and there is so much for a visitor to enjoy, including world-class bone fishing, a variety of eco-tourism opportunities, beautiful beaches, great watersports, golf and fantastic shopping and dining,” said David Meers, Vision Airlines Chief Operating Officer.

“Grand Bahama Island has always been a great destination but getting there has become a very expensive and time-consuming process.  Our new non-stop, low-fare flights will make getting to Grand Bahama Island easy and affordable.  Our public/private partnership with the tourism board is a very good model and one that we have used successfully in Florida,” added Meers.

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Express Ferry Service returning to Grand Bahama

Spanish firm Balearia has announced plans to start daily service between Ft Lauderdale and Freeport with their high-speed ferry Bahamas Express. The ship will eventually add Bimini to its route. The crossing takes about 2 hours and tickets will start at $99.

The 450 passenger ferry features a variety of amenities including:

  • Cafeteria
  • Bar
  • Duty-Free Shop
  • Mini-Casino
  • First-Class Cabin

Previously Cloud X offered a high speed ferry between Palm Beach and Freeport, but discontinued service after six months due to lack of passengers.

Making the island more accessible from South Florida is important to drive interest in West End.

News Clippings

TravelAge West

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