|Shaner embraces $12M ‘labor of love’|
Guardian Business Editor
Published: Jun 22, 2012
After years of waiting, a well-known U.S. developer plans to finally break ground within 90 days on a $12 million resort in Eleuthera.
French Leave, consisting of 38 cottages, a restaurant, clubhouse and marina village, will be located just off Queen's Highway overlooking Governor's Harbour.
Lance Shaner, the founder of Shaner Bahamas, will provide the majority of the financing and manage the property. Shaner is the chairman of the Shaner Hotel Group, a U.S. corporation with more than 34 owned and managed properties and thousands of employees.
"French Leave has received National Economic Council approval for the project to start," said Isla Garraway Deane, deputy permanent secretary at the Bahamas Investment Authority.
Shaner Bahamas has entered into an agreement with a local partner, Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina.
Valentine Grimes, the lawyer for Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina, said a number of factors "beyond my client's control" have held up the development. He said a defective title issue, back when the land was liquidated by the previous owner, held up the permitting process for years.
With the process behind him, Shaner said he's looking forward to a "labor of love".
"If people want to gamble and dabble into high-end stuff, there are those choices," he said. "But we think people are looking for venues that are unspoiled and natural. I have been involved in many hotel developments, from big convention center hotels to commercial properties. This is a labor of love."
Phase one and two of French Leave, located on seven-and-a-half acres of land, could be only the beginning for Shaner Bahamas. Developers are waiting to see how the resort is received, with up to 270 acres of real estate owned by the partnership.
"Shaner Bahamas is really taking bite sizes right now, the right scale and the right start," said Eddie Lauth an investor and partner through Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina. "We have the opportunity to expand beyond that. First, the idea is to get through the first phase and do it the right way. Once that's done, they'll look at more options."
Shaner said the project plans to break ground in the next 90 days. Developers are now hiring contractors, with dozens of Bahamians on Eleuthera expected to receive work.
Central to the ethos of French Leave is building in a traditional Bahamian style.
Vehicles will not be allowed in the resort area itself, and instead, each resident is expected to drive a golf cart.
Shaner said solar paneling and other renewable energy concepts are also being considered for French Leave.
This venture is the first hotel development in the Caribbean by the Shaner Hotel Group.
Hotel brands owned or managed by the company include the Marriott, Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza and Renaissance.