Baha Mar CEO Lambasts Government, Contractor

Sarkis Izmirlian (l.), CEO of the still-under-construction Baha Mar mega-resort in Nassau, Bahamas, has criticized the Bahamian government and his Chinese construction contractor. Construction and operation in the Bahamas has always been a challenge and Izmirlian isn’t happy about it.

Government policies, contractor criticized

Faced with a delayed opening of the $3.5 billion mega-resort Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas, CEO Sarkis Izmirlian is blaming the Bahamas government and his Chinese construction contractor, the state-owned China Construction America Bahamas Ltd. (CCA).

Speaking at the second annual Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation Conclave, Izmirlian blasted the Bahamian government and the construction company for failing to deliver on promises, saying the resort’s opening—first targeted for December 2014, then moved to May and now delayed indefinitely—was delayed because of a lack of support from the government in providing education and sluggish progress in the construction process.

“It is important to realize how we got here and learn from it,” Izmirlian said. “As Baha Mar has been developed, we have had to do so with less than ideal support and a less than best-in-class business climate, which are critical to The Bahamas’ success. Unfortunately, a number of promises important to the future of the Bahamas, over the past 12 years, have not come to fruition.

“All of us must be concerned about the unfulfilled promise of improvement in the reliable supply of power and the reduced costs of power. We all should be concerned about the gap in necessary education and training programs that would allow workers to be better prepared for jobs, and we all should be concerned that growth incentive commitments are not viewed as reliable.”

He also tore into the China state contractor for failing to meet its deadlines. “As you know, we have had to delay Baha Mar’s opening, and as a result the people of the Bahamas have not yet felt the full economic benefit of Baha Mar,” he said. “This will happen, but before it can our general contractor needs to meet its assurances so we are in a position to properly open this world-class destination resort.

“Indeed, this amazing property is supposed to be the symbol of international cooperation. It is now up to our general contractor to decide how this next chapter will be written. We sincerely hope they understand this and are realizing the discontent, and concerns, about their performance from numerous quarters including us as owners, the government of the Bahamas, and the people of The Bahamas.”

Izmirlian reiterated his faith for the project and for the Bahamas while lamenting the current status of Baha Mar. “I continue to strongly believe that the Bahamas can successfully compete with the best tourism destinations in the world, and Baha Mar will prove that,” he said. “But Baha Mar in and of itself is not the Bahamas and cannot solve all the ills of this country.

“I can assure you this: There are not that many Sarkis Izmirlians or Sol Kerzners out there who would be willing to invest in the Bahamas as we have.”

Articles by Author: Frank Legato

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the humor book How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and a coffee table book on Atlantic City, Atlantic City: In Living Color.