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Grand Isle plans restaurant revamp

  • Grand Isle is looking to invest substantially in its restaurant and kitchen when the resort closes next month, effectively doubling the number of seats to 90. File photo

Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Aug 27, 2012

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The multi-million-dollar Grand Isle Resort, located on Emerald Bay, Exuma, will undergo major construction and renovations once its doors are closed temporarily, beginning next month.

According to the resort’s Executive Director Grant Castle, the high-end resort historically closes for approximately five weekends starting at the end of next month into October.  However, as the resort plans to renovate its kitchen and dining facilities, the closure has been extended for an additional three weeks.

The resort’s restaurant can presently accommodate up to 45 people, but at the end of the expansion, Castle pointed out that its capacity is expected to double.

“During that time, we will be refitting and upgrading our kitchen facilities and expanding our dining and seating areas.  We have a very big restaurant expansion that we are starting the moment our last guest leaves on September 3.  The investment is substantial.  As you can imagine, when you are going to put in an entirely new kitchen and go from 45 to 90 seats, it’s a substantial amount.  We’re confident that we are going to come out of this with a facility that would match the experience that they would expect at a place like Grand Isle,” he said.

The Grand Isle executive admitted to Guardian Business that expanding its dining facilities wasn’t part of its original plans.  Nevertheless, the move is being welcomed by its homeowners and guests.

“The reason that we are expanding the restaurant is that originally we were part of a community called Emerald Bay, that was supposed to have many different restaurant options available.  The original Four Seasons had several restaurants in a marina.  Now that Sandals is an all-inclusive resort right next to us instead of the Four Seasons, and their marina never built a restaurant, we find that we need to build a restaurant where we can provide a wide variety of food for people that are going to be there all the time.  We don’t have a large enough restaurant to handle high occupancy periods because we didn’t envision being the only restaurant in the area.  And now that we are, we realized what we have to do,” Castle explained.

Although the resort presently has 50 employees, Castle shared that there will be additional jobs available once the restaurant is completed,.

“We are looking at that now for when we reopen.  We are hoping to have enough time at the end of our construction where we will be able to do training.  We have a pretty good handle on what we need to do from a staffing standpoint based on what we were doing with the existing restaurant,” he revealed.

The expansion of the restaurant also matches an ongoing rise in investors at Grand Isle.

Peter Nicholson, who pulled the resort out of receivership through the purchase of 31 villas, reported a robust August in terms of investor interest.  So far, the Canadian developer has already sold seven villas and continues an aggressive rental campaign to attract buyers.

“My remaining 24 villas are all booked for the last week of August,” he noted.

In addition to the restaurant, Castle noted that there are plans to construct a maintenance facility and an on-site sales office, in an effort to improve operations at the resort.

The resort is also launching a fall and winter marketing program so it can introduce buyers to the new restaurant experience.  Business at the resort has nearly doubled and sales have been steady, he added.

“We have completed all of those sales and now are 100 percent homeowner owned, and we have turned the corner on the period where we hadn’t sold all of our units.  We are doing well this year.  We have booked about twice as much business as last year.  It looks like it’s going to be a strong year for us.  We are optimistic with what we are seeing.  We really think the reason for our upswing is three reasons: Incredible staff, facilities and location.”

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