Thursday, June 6, 2013

Was The Magic Back in Freeport for A Night?

Last Saturday night, thanks to the combined efforts of Rotary Club of GB Sunrise’s Cigar Nights at Pelican Bay, the Grand Lucayan Hotel’s Soca Concert with Alison Hinds, and Neptune’s Nightclub, the magic was back in Freeport for a night. Yes it was only a night, but it was an evening that found Freeport extra-alive, energized, and enthused—as if awakened from a long sleep.
It all began when 400-plus people attended a wonderful vintage Havana-themed evening to benefit Rotary Club of GB Sunrise’s Big Brother/Big Sister and community projects. There was great food, a super jazz group with Ralph Munnings, Patrick Boston, Les Lewis, Clarence Green, and Mikki Gottlieb, salsa dancers, an expert Cuban cigar roller from Graycliff in Nassau, music video shows, salsa dancing, cigar smoking on the balcony, laughter, and just plain fun.

The crowd was dressed beautifully, with many in Guayabera Cuban shirts and Fedoras. Nikki Waugh from UNEXSO was so clever, she even brought in the Guayabera shirts and Fedoras to sell so people would not have to look far for these themed shirts. People from every walk of life in Grand Bahama came to support this charity event, and Pelican Bay’s Canal House was transformed into a very cool Latin hot spot. People mingled, laughed, danced and partied with a beautifully alive and sexy energy that was very today, and at the same time reminiscent of both old Havana and Freeport’s more glamorous days. The crowd, all local and part time residents, were having a great time partying—and the good times did not stop there. After a great event, and with midnight approaching, many joined other Grand Bahamians for a special concert by the Queen of Soca, Alison Hinds, and partied to the wee hours of the morning. Many continued and went for a nightcap to Club Neptune’s, where the dance floor was packed and people lined up at the door.

So, what does all this have to do with real estate? EVERYTHING. A vibrant nightlife and variety of places to gather, dine, and enjoy music and entertainment is a key factor—an integral part of the magnetism—that draws people from all over the world as both visitors, and, as residents.

In the good vibes of last Saturday night, it was wonderful to see a glimmer of what Grand Bahama’s magic could be again. The energy was there, and energy is what it takes to get the magic back. In the 70s, Freeport had 4 nightclubs, 2 casinos, and a wide range of activities and venues that supported the population of visitors and residents, and showcased the entrepreneurial spirit that built the island into a destination.

Sunwing International’s investment in creating a five-star all-inclusive resort, scheduled to open in November, could be the beginning of re-building Grand Bahama into a new hub. The 1,000 people their Blue Diamond service will bring to the island each week will be looking for places to have fun—places with well-thought-out service and imaginative themes that I know our local entrepreneurs can provide with equal parts flair and finesse.

The possibilities are there, and very real. It will take everyone’s best efforts for a new Grand Bahama magnetism to emerge: from the big players such as the hotels, to longtime and budding business owners who can bring bright new ideas forward for great clubs, restaurants, unique shops, and don’t-miss events.   

Grand Bahama will prosper. The economy is steadily improving in the US and new people will be slowly coming to Freeport again. It may be small numbers at first, but we need to make sure everyone who visits or explores our shores has a fabulous time and tells their friends and family about it so that we can grow. That’s all that it will take: a small, consistent, but powerful, domino effect. So let’s be especially kind to each guest, and give the best service we can so they will stay and return. Let’s create activities so people will want to be an ongoing part of Grand Bahama’s friendly party, and look to find a second home here.

No one will rebuild Grand Bahama magically. We will recreate and enhance our inherent magic by combining all our energies and doing it for ourselves, like Rosie and George at Neptune’s. They took a chance and built a nightclub to prepare for the future and to give our guests and locals something to do. 

Together, we can spread the word about the amazing opportunities Grand Bahama offers, and can do our best to prepare for a recovery—an economic upturn that many experts say is already happening in the U.S. Will you be ready? Tune in next week for some simple tips and strategies for getting a “sold” sign on your house.

And in the meantime, here’s to the magic Grand Bahama Island holds—and the practical energy we each can share in making that dream a reality.

Until next week.
James Sarles, President
Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty