Music city sings Exuma’s praises

Country music. Cowboy boots. And Exuma?

At first glance, Exuma and Nashville don’t share many letters. But in a storied 19th century grand townhouse, located in the heart of downtown Nashville, a group of the city’s elite are sipping “Exuma Blue” cocktails and watching sweeping footage of private islands and turquoise waters.

The Standard, a private club, is indeed just one example of a growing bond between the state capital of Tennessee and the most stunning archipelago in the Bahamas.

“For whatever reason, people in Tennessee are flocked to these islands,” said Peter Nicholson, the president of Wealth, Creation, Preservation and Donation (WCPD Inc) and member of The Standard. “It surprised us when we really looked at it – there is just a disproportionate number of its citizens that have discovered us.”

This concentration of Nashvillians can be best seen at Grand Isle Resort & Spa. A solid group are now homeowners at the resort, or have houses in and around the stunning Emerald Bay area. Other notable Exuma investors include David Harris, the developer behind a new resort in Exuma called “Escape Cay”, William Frist and his son-in-law Chuck Elcan. The Frist family, one of the wealthiest in Tennessee, are heavily involved in healthcare, philanthropy and politics.

Nicholson, who is also president of GIV Bahamas Inc., sought to nurture this already strong link with the state through an official visit last week.

Jeff Todd, director of communications for WCPD Inc. and GIV Bahamas Inc., held an exclusive cocktail reception for members of The Standard one evening and presented information and opportunities in Exuma.

The 365-island chain is currently enjoying an explosion of development while benefiting from a duty-free exemption on all construction materials entering the country. Todd networked with prospective investors, realtors, travel agents and other executives during the three-day trip.

“The people of Nashville were incredibly friendly, and Josh Smith, the owner of The Standard, could not have been more welcoming,” Todd said. “We look forward to strengthening our ties even more.”

The trip was capped off by “The Gentlemen’s Brawl” last Saturday, a black-tie event featuring three boxing matches in the club’s main ballroom. GIV Bahamas Inc. gave more than 100 members and VIPs a chance to win a trip to Grand Isle for week. The winner was announced in the ring just before the main event.

Grand Isle was joined by other official sponsors: Rolls Royce and Debonaire Cigars.