(GREAT EXUMA, BAHAMAS) -- A crashing hotel occupancy level has claimed its first trophy victim in the Bahamas. The six-year-old, 180-room, 500-acre Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma has closed its doors.
The hotel expected to lose more than $5 million this year, according to the London office of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The accounting firm was named receiver for the property in June 2007 after the owner-developer, Emerald Bay resort Holdings Ltd., defaulted on a $120 million construction loan. The lender was Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group Holdings Inc. of Tokyo.
Pricewaterhouse has been unable to find a buyer to date. At closing this week (May 26), the resort's occupancy was in the 50 percent range.
The resort opened in 2003 at an estimated development cost of $350 million, or about $195 million per room. If sold this year, industry analysts speculate the property will go for under $100 million or about $500,000 per room.
Starting room rates at the resort have been quoted at the $500 level.
According to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, the key statistical factor that sank the hotel was the dwindling number of visitors arriving by air in the first quarter of this year.
Plane arrivals fell 18.4 percent throughout the Bahamas and dropped 33 percent in Exuma specifically, even as visitors arriving by cruises and boats rose 6.6 percent in January and February.
Hotel occupancy throughout the Bahamas slipped to 48.9 percent in January and February, versus 57.5 percent in the same period last year.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts of Toronto has managed the hotel since its opening. In a prepared statement, the Canadian management company says the decision to close the hotel was "very difficult for the receivers to make."
Four Seasons operates 82 hotels worldwide.
There was no statement available from Emerald Bay Resort Holdings Ltd.