Nassau’s Sandals Royal Bahamian joined the Baha Mar mega-resort this past week in opting to delay their re-openings until this winter, months beyond the October 15 reopening date set by The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism for the return of the territory’s resort industry.
Sandals’ website now lists Sandals Royal Bahamian as reopening on January 28, 2021. Meanwhile, Baha Mar’s operators “hinted strongly” on Friday that the Cable Beach mega-resort and its adjacent Melia Nassau Beach hotel may not re-open until late December and possibly not until 2021, observes a Bahamas Tribune report.
The Sandals decision means two of Nassau’s three major resorts will not re-open within the timeline established under the Ministry of Tourism’s strategy, a development that K. Peter Turnquest, the country’s minister of finance, described as “a major wrinkle” in The Bahamas’ economy following the coronavirus-driven travel industry collapse.
Turnquest said his office will collaborate with the Ministry of Tourism to “assess the impact over the next week and propose adjustments as necessary.” Nassau’s third mega-resort, Atlantis Paradis Island Bahamas, reopened on July 30. Turnquest said The Bahamas’ government is projecting a record $1.3 billion deficit for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The decision to delay Baha Mar’s re-opening to an undetermined date was driven by Baha Mar officials’ “analysis of current COVID-19 infection rates both in The Bahamas and its key US tourism source markets,” said Daniel Lozano, the Melia’s general manager, in a September 10 letter to employees.
Lozano said Baha Mar officials’ initial expectations that COVID-19 would be under control by October were not realized, leading the resort’s owners to “prioritize the health and safety of both guests and staff.”
In a similar letter, Graeme Davis, Baha Mar’s president, said the resort’s delayed re-opening is “a great disappointment to us all” and driven by “a sober assessment of the current state of COVID-19 cases here in The Bahamas and in our key US markets.” The Baha Mar decision followed by days an announcement from Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, that hotels will be allowed to re-open beginning October 15.
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