Friday, March 22, 2013
Friday, March 22, 2013
Bimini Bay Resort has begun dredging around the Alice Town dock and constructing a new cruise ship terminal in preparation for large vessels pulling into harbor from nearby Florida.
On the heels of Prime Minister Perry Christie’s announcement in the House of Assembly, Khaalis Rolle, the state minister for investments, provided further details on Genting Group’s increased involvement on the tiny island of Bimini.
The official confirmed that the Malaysian-based conglomerate has not purchased the resort, but instead signed off on a managerial contract. The length and terms of the contact, however, are unknown at this time.
Genting Group’s greater operational involvement is being seen as a means to ensure the success of its Resorts World Bimini Bay casino set to open in the summer.
A key aspect of the plan is an investment of $100 million in acquiring a high-speed luxury cruise ship and jet aircraft to provide dedication transportation to Bimini.
“They are doing work on the new terminal right now, at Alice Town’s dock. That involves dredging and the construction of a new terminal,” Rolle said yesterday. “It adds a new dimension to our tourism product.”
The state minister for investments was quick to point out that Genting Group owns 50 percent of Norwegian Cruise Line.
“They all access to all of the resources and assets of a major cruise line,” he told Guardian Business.
Michael Weber, the general manager at the Big Game Club, said Genting Group’s “deep pockets” will ensure Bimini Bay Resort is successful.
Big Game Club is the second largest resort on the island, and while Bimini Bay is technically competition, the general manager felt the move could elevate the entire destination’s profile.
“They will make the right moves as a company and it will bring more business here. It should be in everyone’s best interest,” he explained. “As long as they don’t hurt the environment. It is a sensitive issue here. Otherwise it is very positive for the island.”
Funds were always tight at Bimini Bay Resort, he noted, and it is difficult to run a resort of that size without significant access to capital. Weber estimated that Genting Group will need up to 1,000 people every day to make the 10,000-square-foot casino a viable operation.
In addition to existing ferry service and direct flights from the U.S. and Nassau, a cruise ship terminal should go a very long way to achieving this goal.
“They’ll spend the money to get people here. They can build that cruise ship terminal and we won’ have to spend any money. We will benefit in the end. The people on the cruise ship can come here as well,” according to Weber.
Looking at the bigger picture, Rolle said Genting Group is a “natural” partner for a number of industries.
In the House of Assembly on Monday, Christie made reference to partnerships in agriculture, power production, health care and even oil and gas exploration as possible avenues for further investment.
When asked if the government is considering Genting Group as a possible partner for oil exploration, Rolle said: “I can’t comment on whether they would be a competitor to Bahamas Petroleum Company. All of those sectors are available for potential investment.”
Genting Group is a publicly traded company with a total market capitalization of around $46 billion.