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Bimini Sands Resort: Genting project ‘very positive’

Rupert Roberts and Bimini business partner see ferry service and increased airlift boosting arrivals to all resorts
  • A master site plan for the Bimini Sands Resort's proposed condominium units. BIMINI SANDS RESORT

ALISON LOWE
Guardian Business Editor
alison@nasguard.com

Published: Oct 30, 2013

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The joint owners of a key resort in Bimini have thrown their weight behind the Genting Group’s Resorts World Bimini investment in Bimini, stating it will be “very positive” for their resort, and looks set to end the seasonality of tourism on the island.

Rupert Roberts, president of Super Value and developer of the Bimini Sands Resort in South Bimini, said that after a “slow” few years for the resort, he “definitely” sees benefits accruing from the multimillion-dollar investment in the island by Malaysian conglomerate the Genting Group, which he feels can “only do good” for Bimini.

Not only does he project increased interest in his $50 million-$70 million Bimini Sands project, which has been steadily selling units to the point that to date around 90 percent are constructed and sold, but also in the outright purchase of the developed and undeveloped property by Genting or another developer.

Meanwhile, his business partner, Bimini-based Frank Cooney, said the resort is already seeing the spillover effect from the Genting Group’s investment, with traditionally slow months for arrivals - January, February, and March - now “all booked up”.

“It’s going to help us because they are bringing more people to the island and that’s always been a problem, to get enough people to Bimini during the off season.  Up to this point, our business really started at the end of May and ended in the first week of September. Now we’re seeing January, February, March all booked up.  Up to this point most of the people who came here were small boaters.”

To date, the Bimini Sands Resort includes two marinas, 30 to 36 buildings containing as many as 250 condo units, and employs “70 to 100 people,” noted Roberts.  The units are sold and then re-entered into a rental pool for the majority of the year, and operate “like a hotel”.

25 out of the 250 condo units are still available for sale to date.

“For us it is definitely positive.  (Bimini Bay has) been selling for us ever since they started because (tourists) go north and they don’t like what they see and then they come over to us and buy.  We built apartment blocks in blocks of six and we have a couple more to finish off and then we’ll be finished, we’ll sell them off or rent them off,” said Roberts.

“Then of course we still have our land.  We own most of the beach in South Bimini, with the exception of one lot or so.  I think what will happen - we have a lot of property, two marinas - is that Genting will be after our property, our project.

“Of course they are doubling, tripling the size of the airport so you can land any type of aircraft.  Once that is completed, and the bridge and the dock, you’ll see that other parasites will come around and invest millions to cash in on what someone else has invested.  It always happens.  So we’ll deal with Genting or we’ll deal with someone else.

“We bought the Duck Pond there.  If you take that Duck Pond and dredge it, it would be the largest natural marina in the world just off the Florida coast.  I don’t care to do it, but someone like Genting can take a project like that.  So I expect (the Genting investment) would lead to more development.”

As for the environmental impact, both Roberts and Cooney were in agreement that much damage has been done to date to the environment.

Environmental impact

Roberts said he sees the Genting Group as more likely to have a positive environmental impact.

“They are going to build a dock a quarter mile long.  When you build docks all you do is attract fish and life.  All of that will be positive... Anything Genting does is positive.  They build a bridge over the flats from North Bimini up to the airport, that’s positive.  A dock will grow algae, it’s like sinking a ship out there, it’s a home for fish.”

Cooney, however, expressed some reservations as to Genting’s likely impact on the environment.

Cooney said that within the Bimini community, the “biggest concern” is the environmental impact from the Genting project.  However, like Roberts, he suggested that much of the damage has already been done.

Roberts comments come as the Resorts World Bimini North Bimini Ferry Terminal project has come under particular scrutiny from concerned Biminites and environmental groups, who fear that it will destroy nearby dive sites and coral reefs and lead to other negative impacts in the Bimini community that will outweigh its positive economic effects.

The Bahamas National Trust and others have expressed concern that the project was approved without input from third party environmental groups, who were denied the ability to see the environmental impact assessment relating to the project until shortly before construction permits were approved.


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