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Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Ruffin Sells Bahamas Resort for $150 Million

4 April 2005

New Frontier owner Phil Ruffin has signed an agreement with an investment company to sell his Bahamas resort for about $150 million.

Ruffin said Baha Mar Development Co. Ltd. expects to close on the Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino and the Nassau Beach Hotel by May 19.

Baha Mar is also in the process of purchasing the neighboring Radisson Hotel from the Bahamian government to make way for development of a megaresort complex at Cable Beach worth $1.2 billion.

The project would include the largest casino in the Caribbean, extensive meeting and convention space, 2,700 luxury hotel rooms in several separately branded hotels and other attractions.

A previous deal to sell to Baha Mar fell through because "when it came time for them to put up the money they didn't do it," Ruffin said. This time around the money came through, he said.

The Baha Mar development team includes Executive Vice President Michael Sansbury and Executive Vice President of Development John Kristich.

Sansbury ran three Universal Orlando resorts since inception and previously ran the 3,000-room Mirage resort in Las Vegas. Kristich was involved in developing the Mandalay Bay and Monte Carlo resorts.

The Jerde Partnership, a designer involved in the Bellagio and Treasure Island resorts, is collaborating with Baha Mar to develop the project.

Ruffin said he will use the proceeds to "look for other deals" but said he doesn't need the money to undertake his planned redevelopment of the New Frontier on the Strip.

"It's a tax-free transaction and it's a decent price for us," he said of the Wyndham resort. "I've been there 11 years and there might be more opportunities somewhere else."