There’s no denying that tourism to the Bahamas has been dealt a major blow due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation heavily depends on tourism to support its economy, and a number of businesses have struggled as a result of reduced travel.
The Bahamas weathered the pandemic’s first wave well, but after reopening to tourists, the country got hit hard by a second wave. The government has tried hard to increase testing, contact tracing, and restricting movements, but case numbers continue to rise in the country. Although they have a plan to safely allow tourists to come back, tourist businesses such as hotels have to readjust.
One luxury resort in Exuma has been successful in transform itself. With large residential-style villas, Grand Isle Resort on Exuma is using its unique architectural footprint to relaunch itself in the growing market for long-term luxury rentals.
According to Michael Lorenz, Grand Isle Sales & Marketing Director, the resort’s transformation is paying off so far.
“It’s clear we were built for this,” said Lorenz. “The response to the offer of long-term rentals starting at $8,000 a month has been overwhelming. Individuals and families want to be in a safe environment where they can live with a sense of comfort, work remotely if they choose, and enjoy their lives.”
It’s not just the white sandy beaches and turquoise waters of Emerald Bay that are drawing in visitors. The villas themselves are well designed to be suitable for long-term stays. The average hotel room is about 500 square feet; meanwhile, at Grand Isle, the smallest unit is 1,250 square feet, with penthouses more than 5,000 square feet.
The roomy villas, plus the 5-star quality amenities and services, makes this resort primed for longer-term stays. According to Lorenz, since rebranding for long-term rentals, they have received over 50 inquiries with an average stay of over 30+ nights.
“Grand Isle was designed as a stylish, upmarket residential-like resort with 78 villas, each with generous balconies and patios overlooking the white sand Halfmoon beach and breathtaking waters of Emerald Bay,” said Peter Nicholson, who owns several units at Grand Isle.
“With its many amenities, Grand Isle lends itself easily to the new model of luxury long-term accommodations for those who want a safe and secure place where they can live, work, play in a picturesque setting that has all the warmth of a home.”
He added: “Grand Isle’s villas are far more than a hotel ‘room’. Each villa is like a private home with a full chef’s kitchen, Sub-Zero appliances, dining area, large living room, TVs and sound systems throughout, multiple patios, full laundry facilities, and high-speed internet. They are perfectly suited and furnished for a life that still has a touch of a vacation feel and a reality that you can live, work, play, cook, swim, walk the beach and get on with life in a setting that is beautiful beyond words.”
Not every resort and business on Exuma will be able to transition into a new, more COVID-19-friendly design easily. However, Grand Isle’s transformation shows that local businesses can adapt to new restrictions and realities in order to survive.
As travel restrictions loosen and case numbers fall, tourists will inevitably return to the beautiful Bahamas. Until then, more businesses will have to adapt, like Grand Isle or face the reality of closing.