Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good News for Grand Bahama

source: The Freeport News article by Lededra Marche · 26  February 2013

Grand Bahama to Get "Memories" Five-Star All Inclusive Resort

In a matter of weeks, construction work to renovate the Lucayan Reef Village into the Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino Resort is expected to begin now that an agreement has been reached between Sunwing Travel and Hutchison Whampoa, Prime Minister Perry Christie said Monday.

Government has partnered with Hutchison, owner of the Lucayan Resort property and Sunwing, the world's largest tour and travel company out of Canada and Blue Diamonds Hotels and Resorts to revive the island's struggling economy with the five star all-inclusive 460 suite resort. A letter of intent was signed back in November. A memorandum of understanding has since been signed, according to Prime Minister Christie.

"It is anticipated that the construction and refurbishment will be completed for the opening of the Blue Diamond Resort later this year," the prime minister announced in Parliament yesterday. The initiative is expected to create 300 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs at the resort once it is complete.

"The Blue Diamond Resort brands have been very successful in Cancún, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Jamaica," Christie said.

Sunwing, which owns and operates a fleet of 737-800 airplanes, will operate several flights per week from Canada to Freeport, bringing with it additional airlift will be brought to the island. "These added flights and Sunwing tour packages will be beneficial to all participating Grand Bahama hotels and not only Sunwing's, Blue Diamond Reef Resort," he noted.

The beach front property is set to undergo a multi-million dollar transformation, inclusive of a modern sports bar, five unique dining experiences, a teen's club, kids club with a themed aqua park, golf and a casino, according to a Blue Diamond release.

"It is anticipated that the construction and refurbishment will be completed for the opening of the Blue Diamond Resort later this year," Christie said on Monday.

Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe told The Freeport News following the Prime Minister's announcement that the whole idea behind the partnership is to get Grand Bahama back to the point where there is sustained growth.

"So we expect refurbishment to begin almost immediately and we will move toward ensuring that the Reef reopens and the employment of 1,000 jobs," he said. "We're working diligently because Grand Bahama is a prioritized area and we believe that we're going to see a magnificent turn around in Grand Bahama.

"There has to be a good brand associated with this project and we have to ensure that there is a marketing in the place." Wilchcombe also pointed out that the renovation of the project is only the first stage as staff will need to be hired and training carried out.

"Don't forget that's a brand, and that brand has certain specifics that they demand–and you're talking pretty much brand new employees who will be coming to work at the Reef together with employees who are currently with the Grand Lucayan, so you have to figure out how this is going to work," he said.

"The Grand Lucayan will not be affected by the Reef; the Reef will become a different entity and new employees are going to be brought in, so you're going to be talking about training, you've got to put all of the pieces in place."

Wilchcombe said government also has a role to play to ensure that undertaking is a success. "While all of this is taking place, we're going to be working on the marketing and getting airlift and everything in place," he said.

A date for the reopening of the resort has not yet been released. Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino will be leased and operated by Blue Diamond Hotels and Resorts which owns nine hotels totaling 5,025 rooms inclusive of six in the Caribbean.

In addition to its Bahamas resort, the conglomerate would have added three more this year alone with the opening of Memories White Sands in Jamaica and Memories Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

Monday, February 25, 2013

James Sarles Speaks to Business Leaders from 27 Countries: 10 Great Reasons to Invest In Real Estate in The Bahamas

At the recent Bahamas International Investment & Business Forum (BIIBF)—a conference held February 20-21, 2013 at the Grand Lucayan Resort, showcasing The Bahamas as a global investment destination of choice—James Sarles, President of Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty, presented to the assembled international investors, business leaders, Bahamas Cabinet, Ministers, and key government officials, an overview of Ten Great Reasons to Buy Real Estate in The Bahamas.

Well received, the presentation highlighted:

   • The Bahamas’ welcoming philosophy and no-red-tape approach toward international investors
    The many tax-free advantages of no income tax, no personal tax, no sales tax, and in Grand Bahama: no property tax
   • Legal residency opportunities associated with becoming an investor of $500,000 or more in The Bahamas
   • The country’s longtime stable democracy
   • The wide variety of available and affordable real estate right now
   •  Financing opportunities and resources available in The Bahamas
   • The key geographical location and close proximity to the United States
   • The warm, welcoming people of The Bahamas
     Unprecedented opportunities for investing in single family homes, condominiums, and commercial real estate
   • The deep quality of life and natural abundance that the clear Bahamian waters and commitment to sustaining them holds.

Left To Right: Frank Comito, Executive VP, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association, Magnus Alnebeck, CEO Pelican Bay, The Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, Minister Of Tourism, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, James Sarles, Broker Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty, Stuart Bowe Senior VP, Kerzner International, at The Bahamas International Investment and Business Forum February 21, 2013, at the Grand Lucayan Resort, Freeport. Grand Bahama Island.
Other executives at the conference spoke about the potential for development of maritime and logistics industries, opportunities in banking and financial services, tourism, business services, energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and the knowledge economy.

Business leaders from 27 countries were also reminded of what a natural and state-of-the-art gateway The Bahamas offers to the Eastern Seaboard of North, South, and Central America, and to the Caribbean.

James Sarles’ leadership in The Bahamas real estate market, and experience in both global connections and the local community brought a unique personal vision and insight into the potential opportunities for investment in The Bahamas. His presentation on the panel with Minister of Tourism Obediah Wilchombe underscored The Bahamas’ ideal platform for a wide variety of domestic and international businesses—and an unmatched location for second home ownership.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Joining Forces to Introduce The Bahamas to The Hamptons

Joining forces: James Sarles, broker, and Nikolai Sarles, estate agent for Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty, along with Christine Matthäi—a U.S. sales associate with Dering Harbor Real Estate—are joining forces to introduce properties in The Bahamas that are an ideal warm-winter playground for Matthäi’s clients in Shelter Island, The Hamptons, and New York.
Photo by Adrianna Joskowiak

Shelter Island and The Hamptons residents will be discovering The Bahamas as a winter get away, thanks to a new partnership between Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty Bahamas and premier Dering Harbor Real Estate Associate, Christine Matthäi, based in Shelter Island, New York. Together with her brokers, Angelo Piccozzi and John Catrambone, they will be introducing unique properties in The Bahamas to their clientele in The Hamptons and New York.

Matthäi, a Shelter Island & New York City resident for 25 years, sees an opportunity for her clients in Shelter Island and The Hamptons to take advantage of the quick two-hour flight from New York to The Bahamas to beat the cold weather blues. Hopping aboard a jet to the clear turquoise seas of Grand Bahama Island—and the nearly 700 islands and cays of The Bahamas—is a short trip to a world where the summer fun of The Hamptons keeps spinning in a tropical winter.

Matthäi first became acquainted with Grand Bahama when she followed friends from Manhattan who made the island their home. She fell in love with both the warmth of the community and all the warm-winter charms of the island’s sunny shores, white sandy beaches, unspoiled crystal clear aqua waters, and easy travel—finding that a flight from New York’s La Guardia airport to FPO (Grand Bahama) often takes less time than the several hours that can be spent on the iconic “Hampton Jitney” bus between New York and The Hamptons on an average weekend.

“I see the relaxed elegance of The Hamptons & Shelter Island in the summer beautifully reflected in The Bahamas in the winter”, says Matthäi, who enjoys boating, snorkeling, magnificent coral reefs and underwater bounty here in Grand Bahama. “Swimming here feels like being in “God’s Pool”, enjoying these amazing waters, naturally warmed and abundant, even in the winter.”

“The community here is also such a great plus for second home buyers and seasonal renters,” says Matthäi, who finds that “ …  it is easy to make new friends and enjoy feeling at home here right away. I love meeting new people from the island and around the world.”

“We’re so pleased to be combining our longtime experience and local knowledge of Grand Bahama with Dering Harbor Real Estate, notes James Sarles, President of Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty Bahamas. Sarles will be working alongside his son, Nikolai Sarles on acquainting The Hamptons with The Bahamas.  Christine Matthäi looks forward to helping her clients find a Bahamas winter playground version of Shelter Island and The Hamptons in the winter, and to helping her clients with real estate rentals and sales in Shelter Island in the summer.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Behold: The Islands of The Bahamas

Behold: The Islands of The Bahamas
This new campaign (launched during last night's Super Bowl 2013) showcases the naturally exquisite turquoise waters, stunning beaches, friendly people, and relaxed lifestyle that compels both vacationers, warm-winter visitors,  and residents alike—including many celebrities associated with The Bahamas (who are featured in the spot)—to celebrate the glories of this diverse nation and its striking beauty.

If you are looking to find your own home in this paradise of 700 islands and cays, we'd love to help.

Contact James Sarles at Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty, 242.351.9081, or view our complete property listings at

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Slightly more optimistic ... it's feeling like there's business here ..."

Looking at the Grand Bahama real estate market over the past several years, as seen through the lens of the decreased amount of real estate legal work that's happened during that same time frame, was the focus of a January 31, 2013 article in The Tribune242 business section.

Acknowledging that the real estate market in Freeport was impacted significantly by the worldwide economic downturn, James Sarles, President of Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty, is quoted in the article with his impression of the current market pulse:

"... A slightly more optimistic picture was painted by James Sarles, president of Coldwell Banker Sarles Realty, who told Tribune Business that while “it’s not boom time, it’s feeling like there’s business here”.
While Freeport real estate prices in general had fallen by “20 per cent or more” since the 2008 recession, Mr Sarles said buyer interest and call volumes had increased since just before end-2012 to levels not seen for three years.
Transactions were occurring below list prices, though, with Mr Sarles disclosing that “aggressive sellers” were required to close deals.
“The short end of it is that we are starting to get activity again,” he told Tribune Business.
“The phones are beginning to ring. There are buyers out there, but it’s a buyers market. Prices are down, and there are very aggressive sellers looking for deals. The transactions are there, but the numbers are off.
“It’s not a boom time, but it’s feeling like there’s a business there,” he added.
“For the first time in a long time there’s interest. The transactions happening are markedly less than list price, as the aggressive sellers are lowering their prices to realistic market values ...”
For full article in The Tribune's 242 Business section, click here.
For motivated buyers and sellers who understand that there's no time like the present to maximize the real estate opportunities and investment options in Grand Bahama, contact James Sarles at 242.351.9081 or view a full selection of properties available here.