$250M Six Senses development receives EIA approval

$250M Six Senses development receives EIA approval
FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA — The Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) has approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the $250 million luxury Six Senses Grand Bahama resort and branded residential project in Freeport, led by Weller Development Partners. This approval paves the way for construction to commence later this year.
“In our commitment to the sustainable development of Grand Bahama, the EIA process symbolizes our dedication to the long-term well-being of the island and its people. As we move forward, we are driven by a shared vision of creating a destination that harmoniously blends luxury, nature, community involvement, and responsible development,” said Marc Weller, Founding Partner and President of Weller Development.
“We are thankful to the Bahamian government and to the Grand Bahama Port Authority for their leadership and partnership in attaining this critical milestone. We look forward to delivering a world-class resort and residences and ultimately providing a boost to the local economy while generating hundreds of jobs for Bahamians.”

The EIA process in The Bahamas was established to safeguard the country’s natural surroundings and environment from the impacts of development. As part of this process, the stakeholder engagement meeting encouraged community feedback, and Weller Development’s diligence through this public process demonstrates its genuine interest in the success and longevity of Grand Bahama and its people. The residents of Grand Bahama share Weller Development’s concern for the environment’s preservation and are eagerly anticipating the commencement of construction, projected to begin in 2024.

During a public stakeholder meeting held on January 30, 2024, Weller Development Partners executives Marc Weller and Madhvi Shukl reviewed the plans for the $250 million luxury Six Senses Grand Bahama resort and branded residential project within the Freeport area of Grand Bahama. The development will consist of 64 resort keys, up to 28 branded residences, a Six Senses Spa, multiple restaurants, an event space, and a beach club. The sustainable luxury resort will be developed under the Six Senses brand and management, a global key player in the sustainable hospitality industry with locations in some of the most unique, natural environments across the globe.

In addition to Weller Development Partners and Pegasus Capital Advisors, the development’s investment partners also include the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, one of the largest private equity vehicles to date dedicated to climate resilience, coastal ecosystems, communities, and coral reefs globally.

“To protect our coastal regions like Grand Bahama, we need thoughtful solutions that build more sustainable communities, support conservation and restoration efforts, and spur economic development,” said Craig Cogut, founder, chairman, and CEO of Pegasus Capital. “We are thrilled to partner with Weller Development and many others on bringing the Six Senses Grand Bahama to life in a way that puts sustainability and the local community at the forefront.”

The development will generate employment opportunities during construction and operation (~200 permanent local jobs) with a focus on local job creation and gender equity, while the project itself will also contribute to the local economy by supporting ancillary businesses on the island. The development team will also prioritize local sourcing, ensuring the use of sustainable seafood and supporting local suppliers.

The resort’s hurricane-resistant coastline and sustainable energy, water, and waste practices will act as an exemplar for future sustainable tourism models on Grand Bahama and across the Caribbean. The project will be LEED certified and aims to strengthen climate adaptive capacity with a low environmental footprint and support restoration and conservation efforts. The development team is implementing various sustainability practices to promote climate resiliency and aid the restoration of adjacent reefs.

Project construction will utilize renewable materials for the resort and branded residences that are ethically sourced to meet sustainability goals inherent to the development and the Six Senses brand. All built structures will be raised and designed to be resilient against storm surges and hurricane-force winds. The dune landscape will be restored along the beachfront, and invasive species will be removed and replaced with lush, native landscapes in open spaces and integrated throughout the site. Additionally, single-use and disposable plastic are banned across the resort. The site will also be pedestrian in nature to minimize automotive traffic and paved surfaces.

The resort village will dedicate additional land and sea areas as preserves, safeguarding the environment and augmenting the region’s natural beauty. A portion of the resort’s revenues will be earmarked for initiatives such as marine conservation and coral restoration, in collaboration with local government and non-governmental organizations. The overarching vision for the resort is to serve as a role model for sustainable tourism, not just on Grand Bahama but throughout The Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Iram Lewis, MP for Central Bahama, speaking of the project, stated: “I’m really excited about it, and I want to say thank you to the Weller group for the confidence expressed in Grand Bahama. They decided to take a bold step and come to our island and do this major investment. I do believe they are perhaps that missing link that we’ve been searching for. This is a partner that is going to cause us to turn that corner, based on what I saw tonight. Based on the concept, based on their pillars of community, environment, and sustainability, as well as returns, everything is pretty much covered. So, I’m excited and I look forward to seeing it happen.”

Construction is slated to begin in the second half of 2024, with an anticipated opening in 2026.