Consider returning home

 The Bahamas High Commission of Canada and Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc.; co-host more than 60 Bahamians and Canadians in Ottawa at special homecoming event, announce new immigration program

More than a decade ago, Keerhan Mullings traded the warm tropical breeze of Grand Bahama for the chilly, fierce winds of Thunder Bay, Canada.

One of his first memories was the electrical plugs in the parking lot. It took him a moment to realize that, in this northern Ontario city, it gets so cold that residents need to plug-in their cars so the motors won’t freeze. High Commissioner

Even so, Mullings did not dwell on the weather. Instead, he was focused on his dreams of becoming a civil engineer and project manager.

That dream came full circle earlier this month, when Mullings, now 34, attended a special gathering in Ottawa, co-hosted by The Bahamas High Commission of Canada and long-time Exuma investor Peter Nicholson. While the evening offered many of the familiar tastes and sounds of The Bahamas, there was something new about the event’s message to Bahamians: come back home.

“When I was  first invited I thought it would be similar to other Bahamas events I’ve attended before,” Mullings said, who arrived in Ottawa from  Edmonton, Alberta, just three months ago. “What I got from it was a lot more, especially in my professional background, with me looking to bring my skills back home. I have been trying to find a way to do that for many years, while I am still young. So it was an enlightening opportunity.”

Over the last 10 years, Mullings had the opportunity to earn his engineering degree and work for major construction companies in multiple Canadian cities. He also met his wife, a pediatric dentist, and they welcomed their first child, a daughter, about one year ago. Food

But while his connection with Canada runs deep, The Bahamas remains close to his heart.

His Excellency Mr. Alvin Smith, the Bahamas High Commissioner for Canada, joined forces with Nicholson on March 3 to encourage Bahamians like Mullings apply their skills and experience back home. Mingling among the Bahamians was also a sprinkling of current and potential investors in Exuma and The Bahamas.

“The Bahamas and Canada have shared a very special relationship that dates back more than 100 years,” said High Commissioner Alvin  Smith.  “It was truly remarkable to see so many Bahamians and Canadians come together in friendship.  In The Bahamas, we have so many opportunities to grow the economy.  I think this event is very symbolic on how we can come together to meet this potential.”

He continued: “Canadians have been integral in the growth and development of our tourist industry through hotel ownership, large number of Canadian tourists and the expanding number of Canadian second home owners. Now is a great time to invest in The Bahamas.  Our Government, cognizant of the challenges and many complaints made by the difficulty of doing business in The Bahamas, is addressing the concerns of the investors and the potential investors.”Keerhan

High Commissioner referred to the 15th Annual International Business and Finance Summit held in Nassau on Thursday, March 1st where the Minister of Financial Services, Trade, Industry and Immigration, Hon. Brent Symonette, shared with the attendees the steps government has taken and continue to review, revise, amend and create laws that make doing business in The Bahamas for Bahamians and International persons easier.

It was a message echoed by the High Commissioner during this official speech at the Ottawa event last week.

In addition to plenty of Bahamian food, drink and music, the more than 60 attendees learned about employment and investment opportunities in The Bahamas, and in particular Exuma, where Nicholson has been investing for over 12 years.

Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc., is the largest owner at Grand Isle Resort, a luxurious community on Emerald Bay in Great Exuma. The company is also comprised of other hospitality, real estate and marketing interests in Exuma. One of the company’s biggest successes has been the marketing campaign of the swimming pigs, which has since exploded to become a global phenomenon and significant economic driver for the island.

In his remarks, Nicholson told the story of his first Bahamian business partner, Tyrone Munroe, who had lived in Ottawa for decades after leaving his home of Little Farmer’s Cay in Exuma. The two entrepreneurs joined forces over 12 years ago, after Tyrone decided to go back home.

“Tyrone could have very well been a young man in this room today,” he told the crowd.Crowd

“We want to encourage the Bahamian diaspora to consider returning home. Exuma is growing. We have jobs to fill and businesses to create. We want to start a movement of reverse immigration, where Bahamians can rediscover the beauty and opportunities of home.”

Nicholson added that GIV Bahamas Inc. is looking to host similar events with the Bahamas High Commission of Canada in other Canadians cities, such as Toronto and Halifax, and even perhaps take the message south of the border into the United States.

For Mulling’s part, he feels that the experience he gained in Canada will pay dividends if he returns to The Bahamas. He encourages other Bahamians to consider a similar path.

“I think it is the best thing to do,” he said.  “It opens up your mind. It opens up your bubble and allows you to look inside that bubble. This insight can go across every professional field. It allows you to be better equipped to solve problems and excel in the workplace.”

GIV Bahamas teams up with PGA Pro for charity

Yacht party at Palm Beach Boat Show auctions off villa at Grand Isle Resort to raise funds for muscular dystrophy

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From left: Claudette Pagano, PGA pro Morgan Hoffmann and his fiancé, Chelsea Coulard

GIV Bahamas Inc. joined forces with the International Yacht Collection and Yachts International at the Palm Beach Boat show this month for a special VIP party to raise funds for an even more special cause.

The private yacht party included over 150 guests and featured several PGA Tour players such as Derek Fathauer, Bud Cauley and Jamie Lovemark. But the night belonged to PGA Pro Morgan Hoffmann, who recently announced that he has been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, an incurable disease.

After establishing the Morgan Hoffmann Foundation, and receiving an outpouring of support, he continues to work with charities and raise funds so people living with the disease can have a better life.

 

GIV Bahamas, the largest owner of villas at Grand Isle Resort in Exuma, Bahamas, was pleased to donate a free stay at the property to help earn thousands of  dollars for his foundation.

“This event presented a special opportunity to support Morgan Hoffmann and his cause,” said Claudette Pagano, a representative for GIV Bahamas Inc. “Meanwhile, I think the attendees had a great time at this boat show learning about Exuma and sharing their plans for the summer. We look forward to welcoming them and sharing our piece of paradise with these future guests.” IYC PBIBS - DSC_7541

In addition to having the marquee prize at the charity auction, GIV Bahamas was given a booth to showcase Grand Isle Resort and the archipelago of Exuma. The resort and second home community not only benefits from a Greg Norman Signature Golf Course and world-class beach, but also a mega yacht marina, located right in its backyard. The Emerald Bay Marina is the largest, full service facility in Exuma, which has long been a coveted yachting destination due to its hundreds of islands and famously blue waters.

Meanwhile, the golf course surrounding Grand Isle is the venue for the annual Great Exuma Classic, the first event on the Web.com Tour every January. IYC PBIBS - DSC_7623

Exuma has seen a marked increase in yachting traffic in late 2017 and early 2018 due to the passage of hurricanes last year, which hit destinations such as St. Barths and St. Maarten. Exuma, by contrast, was spared any significant damage.

The Palm Beach Boat Show is one of the top five largest shows in the US, boasting more than $1.2 billion worth of boats, yachts and accessories from leading marine manufacturers.

Exuma booming in 22% arrival increase

The Minister of Tourism releases new report detailing rise of Family Island destinations

For anyone visiting Exuma these days, it does not take long to appreciate a very basic truth – it’s busy.

Of course, Exuma is not, nor will it ever be, “Nassau busy”. Instead, there is an energy on the island as just the right number of tourists seem to be discovering what many consider to be the beautiful place in the world.IMG_5843

This feeling was confirmed in March when the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism announced that Exuma experienced an increase of 21.7 percent in visitor arrivals for 2017.

“Two hundred and fifty thousand foreign visitors flew into the Family Islands in 2017,” said Dionisio D.Aguilar, the Minister of Tourism. “285,000 flew into the Family Islands in 2017. And Mr. Speaker, we’re expecting the number of foreign visitors flying into the Family Islands to exceed 300,000 for the very first time in the history of this country in 2018.”

Of course, the lion’s share of visitors still visit Nassau and Paradise Island. But interestingly, the pendulum has begun to more often swing to destinations such as Exuma, as tourists seek unique experiences and untouched beauty over the big crowds.

And there is every reason to believe Mr. Aguilar’s strong prediction for the future. UKFyMgbSG61PkihST0Ga_Exumas-Paradise-Island-1600x900

At Grand Isle Resort, this manicured, gated community is busier than any time in its history, posting nearly 100% occupancy for the months of February, March and April. Golf carts buzz between the luxury villas and Emerald Bay Beach. Tour operators are kept busy by the constant flow of guests heading out on boats to visit the world famous swimming pigs, among the many other attractions out in the cays.

This energy at the resort is only accentuated by the ongoing construction of the ’23 North’, the community’s much anticipated new Beach Club. Expected to open this fall, the club will feature a new second dining venue, infinity pool and special events venue, all spilling out onto a pristine, one-mile-long horseshoe beach.

“The future is right for Exuma and Grand Isle,” said Peter Nicholson, President of GIV Bahamas Inc. “The Minister’s statistics only confirm what we already know – Exuma is growing. I was fortunate to spend March Break there with my family. The resort looks great and Exuma has a buzz about it.”

Beyond Grand Isle’s gates, you can see construction underway for various second homes. The historic Peace & Plenty, which recently came under new ownership, has opened its doors after an extensive renovation. And of course, the much-anticipated Atabey, a high-end island retreat slated to break ground this year, continues to rouse excitement and curiosity. 2018-01-09 12.01.14

According to the Minister’s report, Exuma outpaced arrival growth compared to most other destinations in The Bahamas. Abaco arrivals rose 10.4 percent. Eleuthera increased by 24.4 percent.

D’Aguilar said the general increase in arrivals for the Family Islands was also due, in part, to a high repeat visitor rate of 66 percent, and further anchored by a strong and loyal second home market.

You can read the Minister’s full report in the Nassau Guardian: https://thenassauguardian.com/2018/03/15/family-islands-on-path-to-set-visitor-arrivals-record/

Cycling event remembers fallen student

 Tour De Turquoise 2018 raises nearly US$20K and honours Cameron Williams, who died in tragic sailing accident last December

Hearts were heavier this year for the Tour De Turquoise, an annual cycling event that has raised over $100K for the island and celebrates the community’s youth.

As philanthropists rode side by side with students from the local high school in Exuma, all 70km on a sun-kissed Saturday morning, there was one young man on their minds.Pit Stop students

Cameron Williams, 16, died last December in a tragic sailing accident, an incident that shocked and saddened this small, close knit community. On an island like Exuma, with a population of just 5,000, Cameron’s loss was a major blow, particularly for some of his closest friends.

“Cameron was in my class. We grew up together,” said Keivardo Taylor, also 16, who rode the full 70km from Regatta Park in downtown George Town to Santana’s, and back. “We used to sail, run track, play ball, ride cycles, like we did today. I was riding for two today.”

The emotion of the day was not lost on Howard Chang, the event’s founder.

As Cameron came forward to receive his medal, Howard draped two around Keivardo’s neck – one of him, and one for his friend.

“In addition to being a great sailor, Cameron also loved cycling,” Chang said.Keivardo Taylor

“He wanted to develop his cycling skills and even compete. In his honour, our goal is to continue developing the first generation of competitive cyclists from Exuma. That spirit will live on in Exumians like Keivardo.”

That was the final moment of Tour De Turquoise 2018, which this year raised nearly US$20,000 for the Exuma Foundation of Canada. The 4th annual ride, on February 10, was once again a resounding success for both the locals that have embraced cycling and the philanthropists that return year after year to give back.

For several magical days, donors from both Canada and the  United States took in Exuma’s famously blue waters, pristine beaches and unique character. Guests can explore the island’s many nooks and crannies, or hop on a boat and cruise up the Exuma Cays, seeing the giant iguanas, sandbars, celebrity islands and the world famous swimming pigs.

But apart from the relaxation and cycling, what makes the event special is its genuine impact on the local community.

Since its inception, funds from the Tour De Turquoise has generated well over US$100,000 for Exuma. These charitable dollars have gone towards many worthy initiatives, such as the purchase of a hospital bus, the construction of an upcoming children’s shelter and the creation of the first Exuma Cycling Club at L N Coakley High School. Last year, the Foundation invested in a “clubhouse” at L N Coakley to house an inventory of bikes for the students. The next step, according to Chang, is to invest in education and training so these young athletes can reach the next level.

“These kids have a clear enthusiasm and thirst to learn,” he added.Pit Stop

“Our job is to give them the tools to be successful and encourage leadership within the community. Cycling is a wonderful pastime that promotes healthy living, focus and a sense of community. And for us, as philanthropists, cycling is a mechanism to give back to Exuma. Even small contributions to this island can make huge impact on the lives of the people here.”

Sponsors of the ride included Dilly Crab Ranch, Grand Isle Resort, GIV Bahamas Inc. and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

NFL players escape Super Bowl cold for Grand Isle Resort

 Family Office Experiences (FOE), which hosts retreats and conferences for an elite clientele, led a group of athletes and executives for five-day event in Exuma 

In Minnesota, with record cold temperatures outside, thousands of fans scurried into the stadium in February to take in Super Bowl LII. Meanwhile, less than 2,000 miles south, on the idyllic island of Exuma, a much smaller gathering took in the big game, relaxing by the infinity pool  in style. IMG_4312

Grand Isle Resort played host to an exclusive group of NFL players and other VIPs earlier this month in collaboration with Family Office Experiences, a company that specializes in events and conferences for an elite clientele at some of the most stunning places on Earth.

Grand Isle Resort, one of Exuma’s high-end offerings, including 78 luxury homes with all the resort trimmings, served as the sunny backdrop for this special event.

“The Family Office & Sports Experience – Bahamas Edition, was an alternative Super Bowl Experience for the Family office, finance and professional athlete worlds,” said Christopher Quincy Cobbinah, CEO of Family Office Experiences (FOE). “Escaping the below zero temperatures of Minnesota for Grand Isle paradise on the stunning islands of Exuma was truly amazing. Think turquoise blue oceans, warm sea breezes and white sands.”

Attendees to the exclusive event included a number of high-profile representatives from international family offices, along with an impressive list of current NFL players, such as Cam Johnson of the Cleveland Browns, Gerald Everett of the LA Rams, Joseph Barksdale of the LA Chargers, DJ Haden of the Detroit Lions and Phil Taylor of the  Washington Redskins.

The entourage was joined by local government and business figures, including former ambassador Dr. Eugene G. Newry, and Emmett Saunders, Exuma Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation.

The event itself comprised an eclectic mix of leisure, business and even community service. DSC_8670
An all-White Beach Dinner party and a cruise up the spectacular Exuma cays were some of the leisurely highlights, culminating a Super Bowl party at Grand Isle Resort as guests watched the action-packed game. The Philadelphia Eagles managed the upset against the New England Patriots with a final  score of 41-33. It is the first NFL championship for the city of Philadelphia.

A group of NFL players even took the time to visit the local high schools on Exuma, taking photos with the students and offering some motivational remarks. There were also times when the retreat got down to business.

“Our office specializes in ‘must attend’ events for those looking to build trusted relationships,” Cobbinah added.

“The experiences are designed to foster the development of relationships with other successful, like-minded people. Guests met in private, collaborative, ‘non-sales’ environments to share investment intelligence, experiences, opportunities and to increase their sphere of influence.”

There is perhaps no better place on the planet more suited to such a retreat as Exuma.

With its 365 stunning islands and cays, more than half of all islands found in The Bahamas, Exuma and its multi-hued blue waters has long been a preferred destination for elite travel. With new projects in the pipeline and the ongoing worldwide popularity of the swimming pigs, it has also been identified as a major growth market for the country going forward.

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Grand Isle Resort, with its luxurious homes and  resort amenities, including a fitness center, infinity pool, a mile-long horseshoe beach, activities hut and a full-service spa, concierge and restaurant, has emerged as the perfect, intimate setting for events like FOE.

The resort is the second largest employer on Exuma and has logged record year-on-year occupancy levels for the past few years.2018-02-02 10.44.00-9

“FOE is exactly the kind of clientele that fits perfectly with the Grand Isle lifestyle,” said Peter Nicholson, an investor and owner at Grand Isle. “Grand Isle will continue to be hive of activity as the destination
grows. Hosting FOE was a pleasure and we look forward to welcoming them back soon.”

Family Office Experiences expressed delight with the retreat. Another event is already in the works for this spring for NBA players after their season ends.