By Jeffrey Todd
Nassau Guardian Business Editor
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Baha Mar, the multi-billion dollar resort currently under construction in The Bahamas, has sold “well above” $100 million worth of elite residences just three months after hitting the international market.
Luxurious homes in the $3.5 billon development, the largest resort project in the western hemisphere, have been aggressively marketed and snapped up by wealthy investors in the Middle East, China and Europe. Baha Mar executives are now in Saudi Arabia until next week, after which they travel to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
These oil-rich nations have proven to be fertile ground for international sales.
In all, Baha Mar has sold more than 50 of the 307 homes, located within the Hyatt, Mondrian, Rosewood and casino hotels. While these residences start at $1.2 million for a one-bedroom, Guardian Business has learned that five beachfront villas, priced as high as $12 million each, have all been sold to international buyers.
"There has been well over $100 million in sales," said Richard English, senior vice president in charge of sales and marketing.
"Our residences have been especially well received in the Middle East, where our target audience has a tendency to vacation as much as three months of the year, traveling in large family units."
Khaalis Rolle, the minister of state for investments, said the success of the residences will have an “immediate impact” on the treasury.
After sweeping into power in May, the Progressive Liberal Party reduced the stamp tax from 12 percent to 10 percent. Nevertheless, sales at Baha Mar are poised to generate tens of millions for the public coffers at a time when the government needs it most.
The Bahamas has a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 54 percent and a deficit of $550 million.
“The second impact is the sign of confidence in The Bahamas. Investors are continuing to look here despite a difficult period,” Rolle said.
Baha Mar’s appeal to international investors is partly spurred through its unique program whereby buyers can cash in time for nights in other elite hotels around the world, such as the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, the Fairmont in Mecca and the Mandarin in Hong Kong.
"One of the strengths of the residential product is that we have a mix of offerings to meet a variety of preferences," English added. "The Grand Hyatt has high brand recognition globally and is known as a high-quality leisure property. The Rosewood is known as one of the most luxurious of the top-tier brands. The Mondrian is one of the very few cutting-edge, chic lifestyle brands which attract yet another audience. Our casino residences are over-sized units, uniquely designed for those drawn to what will be the Caribbean's largest gaming facility."
The sold-out beachfront villas, located at the Rosewood, are 6,000 square feet with private pools.
Baha Mar executives are also attracting investors through "a wide range of tax benefits" and a rental program.
The residences were first unveiled to the international market in June at a VIP gala in London at the Mandarin Oriental. The mega project is being financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and constructed by China State Construction America.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian