Baha Mar president Graeme Davis said delaying reopening was one of the “most difficult decisions” the mega-resort’s management had faced, while the head of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, Jeffrey Beckles, suggested that the property was banking on a rise in demand for the autumn.
Baha Mar has postponed its reopening until October and has confirmed it will carry out additional staffing reductions. The Bahamas reopened to international travel at the start of July.
The property attributed the decision to push back reopening to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Due to the many variables resulting from the evolving nature of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to postpone Baha Mar’s reopening and hope to resume operations in October of 2020,” the mega-resort said in a statement.
“It is our hope that in prolonging our closing, we are setting the stage for a more successful reopening, one that will provide the much needed economic relief and long-term stability we all depend on.
“In addition to creating robust COVID-19 safety plans, we are monitoring bookings and travel demand as we strategise the exact date to reopen and adjust staffing needs,” the statement added.
In a letter to staff on 12 June, Baha Mar president Graeme Davis said that delaying reopening was one of the “most difficult decisions” the property’s management had faced to date.
“We will be making additional staffing reduction to align staffing levels with projected business volume upon reopening,” the letter read. “We look forward to bringing as many of you back as possible, once our business returns to pre-COVID-19 levels.”
For those employees that remain, Baha Mar has committed to providing an ex-gratia payment for up to an additional 90 days at 30 percent of their base compensation, in addition to the funds workers will receive from the National Insurance Board.
The government’s director of labour John Pinder suggested Baha Mar’s delayed reopening was partially due to low booking rates.
“From what I’ve heard from them, they don’t have any bookings. And so they had to make a decision to delay their opening until October when they have some bookings,” he explained, adding it is hoped the situation will improve once “the United States opens up for more airlines to start coming back to the Bahamas”.
Baha Mar joins several other Bahamas resorts in electing to postpone reopening, including Melia, Sandals Royal Bahamian, and Club Med Columbus Isle.
Characterising the move as a “business decision”, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) CEO Jeffrey Beckles said those properties which had opted to push back their opening dates were likely hoping to see a rise in demand for the autumn.
“While some hotel properties are delaying their opening we must keep in mind that they are businesses as well and the choice to not open during the softer part of the season is a business decision.
“The good part is they are opening in the fall when there is likely to be greater demand in tourism.”
“All in all, [yes] we would like to have them open earlier, but they are going to make business decisions to sustain their operations for the long haul,” he emphasised.
Nevertheless, Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union president Darrin Woods cautioned that the country’s tourism sector remains in a precarious position.
“The hotel industry is in what I would call a fragile state right now. Out of all of the hotels you have one hotel coming back with a small percentage of rooms that is going to affect a whole lot of people,” he said, referring to the phased reopening of Atlantis Paradise Island in July.
“It is important that we try as best as we can to do what is necessary to get the industry back up and running.”