NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said, on December 18, 2023 that there was no doubt “irony” in the fact that, as The Bahamas celebrated 50 years of Independence, there was also celebration of the re-opening of the ‘British Colonial Hotel.’
“But the meaning within the imperial legacy of that name has changed,” Prime Minister Davis said, during the hotel’s re-opening, in downtown Nassau. “It now signals the grand tradition of what tourism was automatically once assumed to be: travel to unknown places, in the hope of pursuing adventure, luxury, style, and comfort.”
“I know that these aspirations are similarly shared by the 21st-century owners of this property,” he added. “There is an even richer vein of history that sits underneath this hotel.”
Prime Minister Davis noted the hotel’s site, that was rich in heritage, had witnessed the transformation of Nassau from its early days as Charles Town to the “vibrant city it is today”.
“The land on which this hotel stands was once the Old Fort of Nassau,” he pointed out. “Sitting right at the entrance to the naturally deep-water harbour, it played a significant role in our island’s history.”
Prime Minister Davis added: “Would-be invaders would think twice at the sight of that imposing structure. After the fort’s demolition in 1873, this area evolved. It reflected the growth in commerce, in religious significance (with the nearby Cathedral), and as the visible seat of our parliamentary democracy. After the property was purchased in 1900 by Henry M. Flagler, the original Colonial Hotel opened in 1901, and, as they say, the rest is history.”
Prime Minister Davis said that he offered that glimpse of history because he wanted those present to appreciate how landmark developments such as that one, were more than just offerings of investment, more than just additions to tourism.
“This is not to diminish either of those,” he stated.
“Major investments such as the upgrading of the British Colonial Hotel bring jobs and other opportunities for Bahamians,” Prime Minister Davis noted. “With record numbers of tourists arriving on our shores, we also desperately need more rooms to accommodate them.”
He continued: “Let me offer an example. The introduction of new direct flights from Seattle with Alaska Airlines and from Los Angeles with Jet Blue marks a significant milestone in our tourism journey. These new routes signify our expanding reach and the growing interest in the unique allure of The Bahamas.
“We are not just connecting destinations; we are weaving together the stories and experiences of people from diverse cultures.”
Prime Minister Davis stated that, as they witnessed growth from those new markets, the reopening of the British Colonial Hotel came at a “crucial” time.
“But there is also the broader context of national development,” he pointed out. “Therefore, this partnership with China Construction America (CCA) in the restoration of the British Colonial Hotel is not just a collaboration, but a significant contribution to the economic development of The Bahamas.”
“CCA’s commitment and expertise have helped restore this iconic building into a modern landmark, while simultaneously respecting its rich heritage,” Prime Minister Davis added. “This partnership symbolizes a bridge between nations, fostering economic growth and cultural exchange.”
Prime Minister Davis said that CCA’s investment was also an expression of continued confidence in the Bahamian economy.
“They see potential not only in what we are doing today, but also in the future that we are charting,” he said. “We are grateful for that confidence and thank them as we look forward to an even stronger partnership in the years ahead.”
“My congratulations to everyone who has led or contributed to making today possible,” Prime Minister Davis added. “Let’s all celebrate the revived, refurbished, renewed, British Colonial Hotel.”