Atlantis management still positive about deal

NASSAU, Bahamas, Thursday January 26, 2012 – Despite all the uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the Atlantis Resort and its ongoing operations, accommodation rates are continuing to climb.

“This year, 2012, looks even better than 2011. Our booking paces here are ahead, certainly for the winter period. So we’re looking forward to a very strong winter, our group pace, as is typical across North America, is also considerably ahead from last year,” reports George Markantonis, the property’s managing director.

“Probably we’ll run about 12 percent better than 2011. In 2011 we were about 35 percent better than 2010,” said Markantonis as he spoke during the 30th Annual Caribbean Marketplace conference at Atlantis.

And, Markantonis, who is also president of Kerzner International Bahamas, disclosed that Brookfield Asset Management may present a reformatted bid to take ownership of the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. Brookfield’s original attempt to do so through a US$175 million debt for equity swap was halted through a court injunction by competing creditors who saw Brookfield as trying to overstep their own legitimate claims against the indebted Kerzner.

Markantonis said the legal battle between Brookfield and other Kerzner lenders showed just how valuable an asset Atlantis was.

“I’m not going to comment too much on this, but I’m going to tell you that the Brookfield deal didn’t collapse. When you’re dealing with a lot of lenders there’s always going to be a little bit of territorial dispute.

“I think it’s a compliment to the whole enterprise that there is such a fight because obviously everyone does see a future upside. And I think that all that happened was the deal presented by Brookfield in that format is probably going to change and they’ve taken a step back to get with their other lenders to readjust it.
“I’m sure that there will be a resolution in the short term. It’s in no one’s interest by the way if there is no resolution.”

He also dismissed the idea that there might be any possible layoffs or major changes in Atlantis’ operation structure because of an ownership change.
“Really it’s financial teams negotiating between themselves [about] who would own the underlying asset. There is no impact on Atlantis. Kerzner International is still the management company, which by the way is typical of most major hotels.”

While industry observers await a conclusion to the Atlantis matter, the hotel’s management has plans for a US$50 million to $60 million expansion this year. This will include upgrades to the property’s 150-acre water park and river systems.

“For us 2012 is going to be a very expansive year in development of the product,” said Markantonis. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)