Everyone knows about the Bahamas, an archipelago of 800 islands, miles of unspoiled pink sand colored beaches, clear tranquil turquoise waters, natures own virtual aquarium up close and personal. There is also the image of hoards of cruise ship passengers sporting color coded identifying wrist bands, crowding the straw markets, restaurants and casinos.
That particular image is about to change and lot of people are banking on it in a big way.
There are nearly 3,100 boat slips throughout the country. But that number is expected to grow to more than 5,700 with more than 20 marina resort developments in the planning and building stage.
The megayacht and luxury market are being strategically targeted in the Bahamas. The Nassau guardian stated that “Florida is sold out” and being a Florida resident I have to agree as slip availability for any size boat is difficult at best. Broward County which is where Ft. Lauderdale is has a three year moratorium on building any new slips. The Bahamas has what Florida does not, space, amenities and a yacht friendly government.
The Bahamas yacht registry is said to be one of the largest private yacht registries in the world. Budding yacht support companies are opening to facilitate the needs of the megayachts.
The government has done away with its duty on yacht and boat replacement parts with only the 7 percent stamp tax now being due. Numerous air cargo carriers deliver to the islands on a daily basis. Foreign flagged charter yachts can easily obtain a charter certificate with payment of a fee with few restrictions. Several Florida yacht charter companies are positioning megayachts in Nassau for the purpose of capitalizing on an already established busy and profitable charter market.
Foreign flagged boats can keep their boats in the Bahamas for three years without paying duty. There is no VAT or any other additional taxes in the Bahamas, for that matter there isn’t any property tax either.
A brief sampling of a few of the new yacht oriented resort locations in development and existing are featured below:
The Atlantis group recently opened their luxury venue called the “Cove” at Atlantis, suites starting at approximately $500 a night, with reported lots of advance booking. Atlantis marina on Paradise Island can accommodate megayachts but the increased need for more space is clearly evident. The same group is closing legendary Hurricane Hole Marina adjacent to Atlantis in February 2008, dredging and making it larger to accommodate megayachts.
Developer Kerzner International; 171 acres, 63 slip marina that can accommodate megayachts, 30,000 sq ft Mandara spa, celebrity chef restaurant Bobby Flay, 78 acre waterscape, 600 hotel rooms, casino, condos. Investment 1 billion, the areas current goliath in resorts.
The exclusive luxury resort, which is scheduled to open in late 2009, will sit on a 230-acre private island. The resort will feature a 180-room Ritz-Carlton hotel and more than 400 residential units that will include condo hotel units, villas, townhouses, private estate homes and a 40 Ritz-Carlton Club fractional product. It is envisioned that there will be rental programs available to all the homeowners.
Other features will include a 300 slip marina that will provide full retail and marina services, a helipad and a ferry from Nassau and Paradise Island for homeowners, guests and visitors, various swimming pools, a luxury spa and several dining alternatives, including specialty and casual restaurants.
Nassau: New Providence South (in development)
A new 565 acre luxury resort community, golf course, hotel, spa, fitness center, restaurants, beach club, and megayacht marina which will accommodate yachts up to 240 feet. American golfer Tiger Woods is the designer of the course and participant in the development group.
South Ocean Golf & Beach Resort: (under construction)
400 room 4 star beachfront casino resort hotel, 100 suite super-luxury beachfront 5-star hotel and spa. A 16 court racquet and tennis club, including a state of the art tennis training center, 7100 yard championship golf course designed by Greg Norman. A 16 acre marina with accommodations for megayachts, surrounded by 75,000 square feet of marina-front retail space.
Royal Island (in development)
430 Acres, 5 Star hotel, estate homes, 200 plus yacht slips accommodating yachts up to 400 feet. 3 Beach clubs, medical center, condos, spa, fitness center, Jack Nicklaus golf course, residential homes starting at $ 2 million.
Grand Bahama: West End
Ginn su Mer
The Ginn’s group very economically energetic 700 acre, 4.9 billion dollar luxury resort community features 4,000 condos and hotel units, two golf courses, casino, marinas including separate megayacht marina, private runway, 1800 single family homes, the biggest development ever in the Bahamas. Complete build out will take 20 years. Adjacent Old Bahama Bay marina with 75 slips currently open.
The following are a few of the existing facilities that can accommodate megayachts:
Highborne Cay, a small island outpost with beautiful beaches and a first class marina.
Sampson Cay (photos below), megayacht marina slips, restaurant, villa rentals, marine/grocery store.
Staniel Cay Yacht Club, marina which can accommodate megayachts, rental cottages, pool, club and restaurant.
Four Seasons Exuma, hotel, spa, fitness, golf course, pool, restaurant, tennis, megayacht marina and casino.
Atlantis, mentioned above.
Hurricane Hole Marina, Yacht Haven.
Grand Bahama: Port Lucaya Marina
Abaco Beach Resort & Boat harbor, Abacos largest marina in the Bahamas, 190 slips accommodating yachts up to 200 ft. Tennis, hotel, pools, fitness, hotel and cottages.
Literally billions have been slated for development for these and other yacht oriented resorts, the Bahamas might just be, yachting’s new Dubai.
The above article was written by Marianne Hubbell, yacht and charter broker and partner in a megayacht Support company, Bahamas Yacht Concierge, in Nassau.
More information: http://www.bahamasyachtconcierge.com
Photos courtesy of Marianne Hubbell and Bahamas Film Commission
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