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Occupancy at Exuma resort ‘significantly better’

Executive director admits ‘struggle’ to maintain high standards while remaining profitable
Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Oct 09, 2013

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While occupancy at the Grand Isle Resort & Spa on Exuma has improved “significantly” in comparison to last year, the high-end resort still struggles to remain profitable.

“We’re closing the gap but we’re still struggling to get there. Our bookings look good coming into the season. But it’s a tough business trying to run a hotel on Exuma because it’s very expensive,” Grant Castle, Grand Isle’s executive director told Guardian Business yesterday.

Currently, Grand Isle employs 80 people, making it one of the top employers on that island. Recognizing this fact, Castle called the operation significant and that his team works daily to ensure that it maximizes the number of people who visit, while seeking to keep operational costs reasonable.

“We’re hopeful because we are seeing a lot of improvement. Occupancy has been significantly better than last year. Quite honestly, we still struggle with the level of investment is needed to make to keep the resort at a four-star standard, all while trying to be profitable,” he said.

At the beginning of the year, Castle acknowledged that Grand Isle did not break even in 2012, and it is unlikely to do so this year.

Those comments from Grand Isle have echoed past concerns expressed by the Sandals Emerald Bay property, which has also pleaded for relief from high operating costs. Both resorts, located on a stunning stretch of beach, make up the “anchor” for other economic development on the island.

In the meantime, as part of its year-round marketing program, Grand Isle has partnered with the Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board for its latest promotion.

Up until December 20, guests will be able to take advantage of a four-night air-inclusive package, which includes two round trip tickets from Nassau or one round trip ticket for three night stays. And Bahamian residents can also enjoy a 35 percent discount on one of its spacious one to four-bedroom villas.

“Our latest promotion is just part of the overall marketing that we do. Not only do we run specials for certain times of the year but we are targeting groups like weddings,” Castle said.

“In the upcoming year, we will be targeting family groups and other special event groups. For people who are having social events like a 50th birthday or a 30th anniversary, we would like to host those events at Grand Isle.”

The exclusive gated community consists of 78 one- to four-bedroom villas.

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