NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Sir Solomon Kerzner will forever be remembered for his indelible and lasting imprint on The Bahamas, said Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in a memorial on his passing.
The 84-year-old pioneer died of cancer surrounded by his family on Saturday at the Kerzner family home, Leeukoppie Estate, in Cape Town, South Africa.
In a statement, his family described him as a Maverick.
“Kerzner was a titan of the hotel and resort industry who redefined the scale and scope of integrated destination resorts worldwide,” they said.
Sir Sol, one of the world’s most innovative hoteliers, was the founder of the Southern Sun hotel group, Sun International, Kerzner International and One & Only Resorts.
He was honored with an honorary knighthood – with the award of the insignia Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) – in the Queen’s 2010 Birthday Honors.
“For nearly half a century he was a pioneer in the resort industry globally and helped to redevelop and transform tourism in The Bahamas,” said Minnis, as he offered condolences to Sir Sol’s friends and relatives.
“He left an indelible and lasting imprint on The Bahamas, which he loved and which he considered a second home.
“…No history of the modern and independent Bahamas would be complete without reference to the positive and pervasive impact that Sol Kerzner had on the social and economic development of The Bahamas.”
For many years, Kerzner was the principal owner of the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island.
The resort is the largest private employer in the history of The Bahamas and its development has nurtured Bahamian talent and expertise at every level.
Over the years, the number of Bahamians employed directly on Paradise Island because of Sir Sol, according to the prime minister, grew from slightly more than 3,000 to nearly 8,000.
“The size, the scope, the financial commitment and the nature of his investments were such statements of confidence in our country that they shone a new light on The Bahamas, which endures,” Minnis said.
“The genius of the Atlantis resort project theme took full advantage of the unequalled reputation that The Bahamas already had for the clarity of our waters and the magnificence of our beaches. Atlantis quickly became one of the great resort wonders of the world.”
Opposition Leader Philip Davis described Sir Sol as “a visionary, a business icon and a towering figure in the tourism and travel industry, not only in The Bahamas but internationally”.
Davis said: “He is widely credited with transforming the Bahamian tourism product, strengthening the country’s brand as a premier tourism destination while contributing significantly to the growth and development of the local economy.”
The Ministry of Tourism also expressed its sadness over the passing of Sir Sol, remembering him as giant in the hospitality industry.
“He brought an original perspective to developing his hospitality brands, and the launch of The Atlantis brought new attention and a revitalization to The Bahamas, which contributed greatly to the phenomenal growth we have seen as our tourism industry has matured,” the ministry said.
“We are proud to have been the birthplace of The Atlantis concept and are pleased to have enjoyed his partnership and support for more than 25 years.”