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UPDATE: A Bahamas judge has ruled to dismiss the US bankruptcy filing of developers Baha Mar, Ltd.
Things have gone from bad to worse to catastrophic for The Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas. After missing its March opening date, failing to alert guests with reservations (and the media) to the delay, and then bungling up their refunds, along with filing for bankruptcy and engaging in a blame game with their construction company, the $3.5 billion resort project has turned what should have been a modern paradise into a hotel hell.
But now, the Bahamian government is attempting to step in and put the resort back on track to opening. Which has the resort's developers, Baha Mar, Ltd. extremely upset. The developers are due in Bahamian court today but the country's Prime Minister has made his intentions clear.
Travel Weekly reported last week that Prime Minister Perry Christie said the government would take over the project and force out the developers.
Christie, in an address to the Bahamas public late Thursday, said that the project, which is 97% completed, would have the best chance of opening if the government took it over and removed Baha Mar Ltd. He added that the Bahamas attorney general on Thursday filed a so-called "winding up petition" that would force a compulsory liquidation on the part of the developer.
Christie was also critical of the developer's decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. on June 29 without giving prior notice to either the Bahamas government, the lender or the contractor. Christie, whose government has agreed to fund two salary payments for Baha Mar's more than 2,000 workers since that bankruptcy filing, added that the developer wouldn't agree to either rescind its bankruptcy petition or discontinue the lawsuit it filed against the contractor in U.K. courts the following day, further hindering negotiations.
Pop some popcorn and pull up a seat.
China Construction America, the contractor hired for the Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas has put out a statement today regarding last week's bankruptcy filing by the developers of Baha Mar, who placed the blame for the resort's missed opening dates on the contractors. But China Construction America says Baha Mar's blatant mismanagement of the project is what caused the resort's downfall. Here's what CCA has to say (emphasis is ours):
Baha Mar Ltd.'s decision to file for bankruptcy protection is the direct result of its failure to secure adequate financing and its mismanagement of the design of Baha Mar resort project.
This mismanagement includes replacing the principal architect after construction had commenced, the late and incomplete delivery of design packages and over 1,300 Construction Change Directives.
The vast majority of the Baha Mar debtors are organized under the laws of the Bahamas, the Baha Mar project is located in the Bahamas, and the Bahamian people are deeply invested in the future of the project. Baha Mar Ltd.'s decision to file for bankruptcy protection in the United States was, therefore, misplaced and calculated to benefit the project's developer over the interests of the Bahamas and its people.
Keep reading. There's more where that came from!
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Baha Mar has done it again. And by "it", we mean continued to promise to vacation-goers that their resort wonderland will open someday soon, despite filing for bankruptcy yesterday. Here are some choice quotes from the press release that Baha Mar, led by their chairman and CEO, Sarkis Izmirlian, put out yesterday:
Mr. Izmirlian stated, "I am committed to doing all I realistically can to move Baha Mar forward to be completed and opened successfully. I am confident that, once opened, Baha Mar will be a world-class destination resort that will attract guests from around the world and serve as a key economic sparkplug to The Bahamas. The Chapter 11 process provides the appropriate venue to create a viable financial structure that places Baha Mar's interests foremost."
Mr. Izmirlian continued, "The general contractor repeatedly has missed construction deadlines. This has caused both sizeable delay costs and forced the resort to postpone its opening. Unable to open, the resort has been left without a sufficient source of revenue to continue our existing business.
Oh yes. He did just throw some serious shade at China Construction America, which is mostly owned by the government on China. #sorrynotsorry. But Izmirlian continues:
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Just last week, we posted a silver lining that emerged from the storm clouds of the epic opening fail of Baha Mar Resort & Casino in the Bahamas, which has been plagued by construction delays, thanks to a standoff between the resort and its construction company.
A Hyatt Gold Passport guest told HotelChatter that he was extremely impressed with Hyatt's customer service for affected guests of the Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar, which involved a dedicated hotline for Hyatt guests and a full refund of all of his Passport points used to book the trip, plus a few extra.
This was pretty much the only positive report we've heard regarding Baha Mar in months. But today, we're back to the usual doom and gloom that has been hovering over the resort complex since they missed their (second) targeted opening date of March 27.
Tribune 242 is reporting that a bride and groom who were scheduled to have their wedding in June at the SLS at Baha Mar are now unable to get a refund nor answers to their many questions from SLS and Baha Mar. They are also trying to wrangle refunds for 100 of their guests, who had booked hotel rooms and flights to The Bahamas.
Apparently, the couple and their 100 guests were treated as one giant group, instead of individuals. Eventually, SLS offered the group a mixture of cash and credits for future stays, but the cash portion was not even enough to cover everyone's air fare. Now the groom, who himself is a builder of luxury homes in Houston and thus very familiar with construction projects and delays, said the experience has been such a nightmare that he will never return to the Bahamas again, "unless it was to see the ruins of Baha Mar."
And he's not alone.
Keep reading to hear yet another example of someone who was royally screwed over by Baha Mar.
UPDATE: The exact date of reservations shown as open for Baha Mar is September 8.
This latest delay from The Baha Mar Resort in The Bahamas is not surprising at all, given the resort's history of opening delays. But it is another setback for a hotel that had initially hoped to open in December 2014.
Right now, according to The Baha Mar's website, you can book a room at either The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel for $285 a night; The SLS Lux for $385 a night or The Rosewood for $520 a night. Those rates don't include taxes or the $43 a day resort fee. Which makes a two-night stay at the Baha Mar hotel, shown above, a pretty expensive one at $736.38 total.
And as is becoming routine for Baha Mar, the resort hasn't made any announcements about the new delay. People are still leaving comments on the Baha Mar Facebook page about their reservations. Check out this comment left on Saturday.
Even if The Baha Mar resort opens in September (and we really want it to), we still wouldn't take a chance on booking a room there until you've actually read reviews or seen pictures from people who have been inside.
[Photo: Baha Mar]
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An exclusive HotelChatter Long Read by John Buchanan
Shortly after that, Baha Mar insiders told us the resort would actually open on March 27. Progress! Except after three months of non-stop marketing and advertising hype about the new "Bahamian Riviera", across traditional and digital media--along with a special Grand Opening offer that included a $100 resort credit--Baha Mar delayed its opening again to May in a most spectacular way--by announcing the delay on Facebook two days before the scheduled opening.
Would-be guests flooded the Bahamian megaresort’s Facebook page with questions about their existing room reservations and plane tickets. A few even said they had no idea about the delay until they saw the Facebook post. Several seriously unlucky folks had less than 48-hours notice before leaving for the Bahamas.
We’ve not seen a mob mentality rage of this kind toward a hotel before. Indeed, angry customers are still leaving comments on the resort’s Facebook page, asking about their upcoming reservations for May.
After canceling its official grand opening weekend for May 5-7, and moving its general opening date yet again, Baha Mar is now accepting reservations for July 1-3, seven months after the initial December opening date. (And no, there was no official update on social media from the resort about the May opening being moved as well.)
To be fair, delays are to be expected when building new hotels, especially one as big as the $3.5 billion, China-funded Baha Mar resort which will have a flagship hotel and casino, two luxury hotels (Rosewood and SLS Lux) and a Grand Hyatt. But it is one thing to delay your hotel’s opening date before you’ve begun accepting reservations. It is another thing entirely to delay your opening just two days before the expected date without notifying your existing reservation holders.
One can only wonder--Will Baha Mar ever recover from this very public embarrassing setback? Will guests want to take a chance on booking a room for July? Will travel media, travel agents, meeting and events planners and other businesses believe Baha Mar when they announce their next opening date?
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No rest for the wicked though, as things are continuing on in the Bahamas – more specifically, renovations at One&Only Ocean Club (perhaps you recall certain scenes from the movie Casino Royale being set here). Target for the renovations is the Hartford Wing of the resort, where rooms will get new furniture, while being expanded by 110 sq ft so that each includes a terrace or balcony.
Baha Mar might not be open in the Bahamas next month, but this hotel will be.
With only 30 rooms and in the upscale Lyford Cay on New Providence Island in the Bahamas, The Island House is shaping up for a spectacular debut next month. The rooms are generously sized, inside and out, at around 500 sq.ft., with a 120-sq.ft. balcony. Two cottages are also available with over 1,000-sq.ft. of space and a nearly 600-sq.ft. foot porch. Still not enough space for you? The Island House will also have six two- and three-bedroom apartments.
There will be a resort communal area equipped with WiFiand work stations, a coffee bar, the Bamford Spa and a "movement studio" that will offer Pilates, anti-gravity yoga and other classes. Perhaps the most unique aspect is its 48-seat on site cinema that promises to show feature films as well as artsy flicks.
As for dining on-property, guests can hit up the Mahogany House, which has been in operation since 2010.
Rates start at $650.
[Photos: The Island House]
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This is surprising and yet not surprising from the hotel we awarded with the Worst Hotel Hype of 2014.
The Baha Mar Resort in The Bahamas, a vacation destination that is to include a Rosewood Hotel, an SLS Lux property, a Grand Hyatt and the centerpiece Baha Mar Resort & Casino, has now pushed its opening back to May.
Originally, the resort complex was set to open in December, but missed that date and hoped for a May opening instead. But starting in January, Baha Mar began hyping up a March 27 opening, accepting reservations and promoting several opening day packages. Then, last week, just two days before it was due to open Baha Mar posted the above note to Facebook about the delay, leaving guests who booked non-refundable flights in the lurch during a popular Spring Break travel week.
According to the Miami Herald, Baha Mar places the blame for the second delay on the Chinese construction for not finishing the work in time. Whatever the reason for the delay, Baha Mar is now scrambling to deal with the fall-out. But they will have a very tough time saving face.
All you need to do is read through the barrage of Facebook comments on this post. Many of the guests were told they could be relocated to nearby Atlantis, only to find out that resort was booked during their dates. Other guests with reservations in April had no idea the delay was even happening until they saw the update in their Facebook feed. And many more are worried that the resort won't be open in May, which we think is a very real concern.
Here are just a few of the more than 600 comments on the Baha Mar Facebook page.
We're just a few weeks away from the first opening phase of the long-awaited Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas. We've already told you what to expect rate-wise as well as given you the heads-up on the opening deal.
Now today, we're peeking at the public spaces of the SLS Lux at Baha Mar.
Here are a few renderings of the lobby, the pool and the pool terrace. This might be our favorite SLS yet. It's not too dark, it's not too weird or ornate, and it's not crowded, yet. We also love how the Bahamian pink gets incorporated here. (The entire exterior is swathed in this color.)
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We've already told you what to expect room rate-wise at the upcoming Baha Mar Resorts, the first of which will open on March 27, but today we have a closer look at, and a deal for the SLS Lux at Baha Mar.
In case you weren't sure, SLS Lux is what it is says--a luxer version of the usual, SLS Hotels. A room at the SLS Lux at Baha Mar starts at 358-sq.ft. and includes the "Sleep Lying Still" signature beds, 48-inch flat-screen TVs, Ciel spa toiletries and a Juliette balcony, among other amenities. But judging by this new rendering of the rooms, SLS Lux actually looks more simpler than the average SLS Hotel room. We do like that rug, though.
And these are rather small rooms for being "Lux" but the good news is that the opening rate on March 27 has dropped from $715 a night to $450 a night, with a $100 resort credit. There is still a $40 per night, plus tax resort fee to add-on.
Naturally we had to do a room rate check. Here's what you can expect to pay on March 27. Break out the dollar bills!
Baha Mar Resort & Casino: At the main resort on site, you can expect to pay $350 a night for a seriously stylish deluxe king room with ESPA toiletries, a 48-inch flat screen TV, a Nespresso coffee make and a full or step-out balcony. The special opening offer also throws in a $100 in resort credit, which helps make the $40 resort fee plus 17.5 % tax per day a little more bearable. (But not really.) That resort fee includes: In-room Internet access, In-room Coffee, In-room Bottled Water, Unlimited Local calls, Health Club Access (2 per day), Non-motorized beach equipment.
Sorry the resort credit cannot be applied to the resort fee.