Construction Begins on Baha Mar Resort

Nassau, 22 February 2011 - Baha Mar, the largest single-phase resort development in the history of the Caribbean, celebrated the commencement of construction with its official groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 21, 2011. The 1,000-acre, $3.4 billion resort, gaming and entertainment complex, slated to open in late 2014, will include some of the world's most famous hotel brands, and is expected to set a new standard of luxury for the hospitality industry.

In addressing the large audience, Baha Mar's Chairman and CEO, Mr. Sarkis Izmirlian, said, "Baha Mar, born from a singular vision, is surprisingly breathtaking in its magnitude. The vision of Baha Mar started more than 5 years ago with a plan to deliver an authentic Caribbean experience which combined the essence and spirit of The Bahamas with the distinction of luxury resorts. The world famous, crystal clear Bahamian water, stunning white sand beaches, and authentically friendly people are the foundation upon which we will build a unique destination, filled with vibrant experiences in entertainment, gaming, hospitality and service."

Baha Marís groundbreaking ceremony featured numerous VIP speakers, including Sir Michael Barnett, Chief Justice, The Honourable T. Brent Symonette, Deputy Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; The Honourable Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Minister of Tourism & Aviation; Mr. Li Ruogu, Chairman & President, The Export-Import Bank of China; His Excellency Hu Dingxian, Ambassador of the Peopleís Republic of China to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; and Mr. Liu Jinzhang, VP, China State Construction Engineering Company Ltd. Event highlights were Lion Dance and Junkanoo performances, representing a fusion of Bahamian and Chinese cultures.

Mr. Izmirlian continued, "This is a historic day not only for Baha Mar, but for The Bahamas, our partners, and, just as significantly, for the global tourism industry. Baha Mar represents an unprecedented alliance of powerhouses in the hospitality, financial and construction industries, and signals a shifting of the sands for the travel industry. Baha Mar also represents the birth of a new generation of destination resorts that will compete on a world scale."

Baha Mar will create a collection of world-renown brands offering the highest levels of luxury, amenities and service, to include Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Morgans Hotel Group, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and a world-class Casino Hotel, creating a total of 2,250 new rooms within four spectacular new hotels.

Baha Mar will include the largest convention center in The Bahamas, with 200,000 square feet of space, which can also double as a world-class entertainment venue and sports arena. Baha Mar's stunning, new 100,000 square-foot casino will be the largest in the Caribbean, and will be the only true gaming experience outside Las Vegas.

Other amenities will include a 50,000 square-foot retail village combining an upscale shopping experience with Bahamian arts and crafts, chef-branded restaurants, and entertainment venues. A 20-acre Eco Water Park and pool experience, and three unique spas, including the largest spa in the Caribbean, will be set on the Bahamian Riviera, along 3,000 feet of the most pristine beach in the world. The planned 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Course is one of a select few such top-tier Nicklaus courses in the world, and will be the only true championship course in The Bahamas.

The realization of the Baha Mar vision is due in large part to the confidence and strong support given by the Bahamian people, the Bahamian government and the Bahamian tourism industry. Tourism accounts for 60 percent of the Bahamian gross domestic product (GDP), and current estimates are that Baha Mar will contribute an additional 10 percent growth in the Bahamian GDP.

Baha Mar represents a direct benefit to The Bahamas through the creation of 12,000 new jobs and the corresponding contribution of more than $305 million in annual wages. According to projections, Baha Mar will help raise the average annual income for a Bahamian family from $29,000 to $33,500, and in its first year of operations will contribute almost $1 billion to the local economy. Baha Mar's long-term benefits to The Bahamas also include $4.7 billion in tax revenue and a GDP contribution of $11.2 billion over a 20-year period.

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