Managing Director of Cotton Bay Holdings Limited, Mr. Daniel Zuleta, on Thursday afternoon, February 9th, 2023, hosted the Member of Parliament (MP) for Central and South Eleuthera, Minister Clay Sweeting, along with a number of key government and community stakeholders, representing the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection, Ministry of Public Works, Local Government Administration and others, to an update meeting on the current status of the Cotton Bay development, key milestones and dates of near term and medium term plans for the project going forward. The expected impact on the local community and its infrastructure was also discussed.
Mr. Zuleta, summarizing the project status and purpose for hosting the meeting, commented, “We wanted to present an update to the government on the Ritz-Carlton Reserve being developed in Cotton Bay… To get everybody aligned, understanding where we are, and where we are going… We are advancing the pre-construction and design stage. We have submitted the CEC application (Certificate of Environmental Clearance). Two of them – one for the resort and one for the road relocation. We anticipate the road relocation approval in late March – early April, and we should start construction of the road later in 2023…” During the pre-construction phase, expected to begin in 2023, two new roads will be developed, he said, ‘Cotton Bay Road’ and ‘Cocoplum Drive’, which will provide public beach access. “The road construction will start later this year. The resort construction will start during 2024.”
The Cotton Bay project, situated to the south of the Rock Sound township, was described as an ultra-luxury resort and residential development, expected to feature a range of amenities and services. “It will be a low density resort, with 90 guest rooms and 60 [Ritz-Carlton Reserve] branded residences, an 18-hole championship golf course, with signature restaurants, swimming pools, and a lavish spa. It will be very indigenous, very local, very unique – so when you walk on the property, you will actually know that you are in Eleuthera. You will know where you are in the world. That’s the whole feel and design of the brand we have engaged to develop,” said Mr. Zuleta.
The Cotton Bay Ritz-Carlton Reserve, he added, will span approximately 220 acres of the 400-acre property. The estimated investment for the project is more than USD$200 million. Proceeding in stages, the development, is said now to be in the current phase 1, comprised of design and pre-construction activities. Phase 2 will be the construction stage, which is expected to last at least 24 months and stimulate 300 direct jobs – to provide $8 million annually in wages. Once operational, the resort plans to employ 200 Bahamians with wages of $10 million per annum.
During the meeting, Mr. Zuleta and his team emphasized their commitment to preserving the natural beauty of the environment and the unique eco-system of the property. The project has retained Waypoint Consulting Ltd. as environmental consultants to develop their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) – working with the design teams and the Ministry of Environment and Housing’s Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP).
Minister Sweeting along with other government agency heads at the meeting brought up issues of waste management plans during construction as well as during operation, sourcing local agricultural and other suppliers once up and running, and a number of other issues of concern. They also agreed to work closely with the developers, including calling future stakeholder meetings at certain milestones, to ensure seamless approvals at the local level.
“Mr. Zuleta was able to give us a report… I think this is good to get different stakeholders, with local government, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Environment – that approves projects like this, all in one room, to see where they are and what they are looking for to get the project moving more quickly – and to update the council as well. That was the main objective today… That’s how you streamline government processes. So, instead of a three, four step process, you bring everybody together, and say ‘this is what we are going to apply for – please update us if there is something we may need – or some advice on how to get it done quicker’, and that’s what we were able to accomplish today,” shared Minister Sweeting.