Bahamas golf resort gets funding from Chinese investors

What do the developers of the Baha Mar Resort and the United States have in common? They both have the same sugar daddy.

Baha Mar Resorts, Ltd. has persuaded a pair of Chinese companies – the Beijing-based Export-Import Bank of China and the government-owned China State Construction & Engineering Corporation – to cough up $2.5 billion in funding for its 1,000-acre resort along Nassau’s Cable Beach. The project has been in the tank for more than two years, ever since the developers’ original partner, Harrah’s Entertainment, bailed out on them. The developers have said that Baha Mar will “capture the true spirit of the island.” If so, the true spirit of the Bahamas includes thousands of condos, several hotels, the largest casino in the Caribbean, a convention center, a retail village, an entertainment venue, three spas (one of them a “world-class destination spa”), a water park and an 18-hole championship golf course.

Now that the financing is in place, the developers hope to break ground on the resort later this year, pending final government approvals. Baha Mar could open in 2013. Baha Mar Resorts has been negotiating with its Chinese partners for two years. The company owns three hotels on Cable Beach – the Wyndham Nassau Resort, the Crystal Palace Casino and the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort – all of which will become part of Baha Mar. The existing properties will be joined by hotels operated by Westin and St. Regis.

Jack Nicklaus will create a “signature” golf course for the resort. The course will replace the developers’ Cable Bay Golf Club, the Bahamas’ first golf course. Some sources say the track, which opened in the late 1920s, was designed by Devereaux Emmet. Nicklaus may also be called upon to design a second course sometime in the future. Baha Mar is said to be the single largest investment in the history of the Bahamas, which is saying a lot, considering that the gigantic Atlantis resort lies just off Nassau, on Paradise Island.

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