Attracting a greater volume of tourists is paramount to the continued success of the multi-million-dollar Resorts World Bimini property and by extension, the beautiful island where the resort is located, Bimini.
General Property Manager of Resorts Vince Angelo, in an exclusive interview with this daily said, “We have realized that by being such a small island that we also have to focus on what we call ‘lift.’ Lift whether it comes by air or sea is the means in which we get our tourists and customers and guests to come to the island, to support the island and obviously support the business here as well.
“With that said, we embarked on a project to expand the pier in Bimini. The pier is not large enough right now to take a full cruise ship to actually dock on the pier. Any cruise ships that come to Bimini right now, the larger cruise ships, just have to drop anchor either west or south of the island and then they tender the guests in. That takes a while and it is a little bit more of a hassle, but we have done it and done it successfully. However, with the expansion of the pier, we are actually going to be able to park a cruise ship right on the pier,” said Angelo.
“With that said, we signed a contact with Virgin Voyages (formerly Virgin Cruises). Virgin is going to begin coming to Bimini, I believe the end of March or the beginning of April 2020. They will be coming in 100 times per year, roughly two times a week or three times every two weeks. They will be bringing in 2,500-odd passengers to the island and because of that we are also expanding the beach club, which is not right at the resorts. The beaches are about a quarter of a mile off the resort.
“We have a beautiful restaurant over there and then we own the land just north of the restaurant. We are developing all of that land right now to become a Beach Club,” he revealed.
He explained what the proposed Beach Club will comprise of. “The Beach Club will consist of two very large pools, two brand-new kitchens for food and beverage venues, cabanas, lounges, and umbrellas as well as food and beverage trucks.
“You have to recognize the fact that when 2,500 people come off of a cruise ship to enjoy an island and they go to one location, for the most part (while they will go through town as well), a lot of them will concentrate and base themselves at this one location. However, you have to be able to provide a lot of space and have the food and beverage for that volume. In fact, Virgin would not even entertain the opportunity to come here if we did not do those sorts of things,” stated Angelo.
“We are extremely excited about it, we will own and operate the new Beach Club … it will be ours. Our agreement will have, on the days that Virgin will be here in port, they will actually be bringing in their own food and beverage from the ship into the Beach Club and they will operate the Beach Club themselves. That will give my staff the two days (or however long they are in port) off and then when they leave, we operate it ourselves,” revealed the general property manager.
“Since the announcement of Virgin coming here, we have actually had a lot of local persons come and approach us about leasing space to open up businesses to provide business opportunities to grow with this, with the influx of people coming to the island … it makes it more consistent. Instead of maybe a potential business owner wanting to have business that will only be good maybe four months out of the year, when the island is busy, now they can look at something year-round because Virgin is going to come year-round.
“We hope that that will continue to grow. It may attract more cruise lines … we have already gotten calls from Crystal Cruise Lines, which our company (Genting) owns and so we know that they are going to be looking at coming into port a well,” he disclosed.
Angelo was questioned if having locals take advantage of some of the entrepreneurial opportunities that are sure to present themselves with the opening of the Beach Club is something that he will consider.
He responded, “Yes, in fact, some of the type of businesses that people have approached us about are persons looking to rent scooters and things like that.
“We have already leased out some space with a company that is offering art and hookah… things like that we are starting to see. We do have cabanas and areas that are open. It is limited … unfortunately, it is not going to be 10, 20 or 30 of them, but the few that we do have, we have already extended some contracts to,” he said.
“Even if it is not at the Beach Club we have in Fisherman’s Village, some retail space also. Even though that is a quarter of a mile from the beach, these 2,500 people are going to be all over the island. The straw markets, restaurants and bars in town will be busy, the supermarkets will be having people stop in and pick-up things and so, I think that everyone really does benefit from it. The opportunity to open up a business could be anywhere, not just at the beach; we are hoping that we are going to see more Bahamians come in, to look to open businesses for sure,” stated Angelo.
“We have been contacted by other cruise lines to come as well, so that means that we are definitely going to attract more people with this type of venue. With Virgin signing on, because they are a very big cruise company in the world, with a lot of competitors, all of their competitors are picking up the phone and wondering what is going on, as Virgin is coming to Bimini now. That can be really exciting as well for us.”
Angelo maintained that as a first-class resort, Resorts World Bimini is doing all in its power to ensure their continued success, during this their three year anniversary of opening.
“We are trying our best to continue to grow the business because we obviously invested a lot of money to develop the north end of Bimini here and it also provides opportunities to grow, whether it is local businesses or just tourism in general.
“It’s a wonderful thing; it is the number one industry in the country and we continue to want to support that, and get Bimini on the map even more,” concluded Angelo.