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From Caribbean Journal

Melia Hotels International will be opening its first all-inclusive resort in the English-speaking Caribbean at the Baha Mar in the Bahamas.


Melia Hotels and the Chairmen of Baha Mar, Ltd announced the signing of an agreement to operate an all-inclusive property at what is the largest resort project in the Caribbean.


Beginning Dec. 1, 2013, Melia will take over operations at the current Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort at what will be called the Melia Nassau Beach Resort. The 694-room property will be executing a renewal plan that will be completed in December of 2014.


After a series of renovations, and upon the launch of the Baha Mar in late 2014, the hotel will be rebranded as Melia at Baha Mar.

Baha Mar, one of the most important destination transformation projects currently taking place in the world, will now include five hotels, private residences, gaming, golf, shopping, entertainment, and natural attractions that embody an authentic Bahamian experience. In addition to Meliá at Baha Mar, the stunning portfolio of Baha Mar properties will feature other prestigious international brands including Rosewood Hotels & Resorts®, Mondrian, and Grand Hyatt, all anchored by its impressive centerpiece, The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel.


Read more about this $3.5 Billion USD investment in the Meliá Hotels press release.

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When selling your home or apartment you should always try to give your spaces a new and fresh look with a WOW! factor. One of the most inexpensive ways to redecorate and brighten your rooms is by using throw pillows.

By mixing throw pillows of different textures and textiles you can create a rich yet subtle mix to enhance that old and tired looking couch. Use fabrics from plush velvets to smooth silks and do not be afraid to mix and match throw pillows by pairing stripes and plaids together or combining solids and floral designs.

If used properly, throw pillows can help to coordinate the design elements in your room. They will also add continuity in your color, texture and design scheme. But best of all, throw pillows are versatile and inexpensive.

Your interior design style could be a Classical, Contemporary, Retro, Asian, Mediterranean, Ethnic or English Country style. Choose pillow designs that match your existing style.

When it comes to getting ideas on how to decorate with pillows, there are many web-sites available to the public with great ideas and pictures you can use as guidelines.

For example, overstock.com recommends the following great ideas. Group accent pillows in sets of odd numbers; use three, five or seven pillows in a room. Using asymmetrical groups is a common interior design rule for nontraditional décor; the room will feel more visually balanced. Vary the pillows' size and pattern. If you want a more traditional, symmetrical look, use even numbers.

Choose pillow colors by looking at fabric, artwork and other accents in the room. Decide on a common accent color and match the color to a paint swatch. Pillows do not need to be an exact match. Some slight variation adds natural contrast and interest to the room.

Go ahead and become creative with colours and patterns for throw pillows. It will be a fun and inexpensive way to impress your buyers.

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Few people understand the full cleaning power of white distilled vinegar. Vinegar can be very effective around the house for killing most mold, bacteria and germs due to its level of acidity.

With chrome sink fixtures, lime buildup can be an issue, especially in The Bahamas. Use an inexpensive paste made of two tablespoons of salt and one teaspoon white distilled vinegar to help restore the fixtures to a shining condition.

Your kitchen can also benefit from this very common cleaning solution. A soaked cloth in diluted white distilled vinegar can leave your kitchen countertops looking clean and smelling sweet once again.

I have sometimes walked into homes where drains had begun to smell due to lack of use. Clean and deodorize your drains by pouring in one cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let this sit for five minutes or so then run hot water down the drain.

Garbage disposals can also give your home an unpleasant scent if not treated properly. Deodorize the garbage disposal by pouring in 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let sit for five minutes, then run hot water down the disposal. You can also deodorize and clean the garbage disposal with white distilled vinegar ice cubes. Make them by freezing full-strength white distilled vinegar in an ice cube tray. Run several cubes down the disposal while flushing with cold water.

When selling your home, make sure your refrigerator is uncluttered, clean and void of foul odors. A buyer will most likely open and inspect this very important kitchen appliance while touring your home. Clean the shelves and walls of the refrigerator with a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar.

Cut the grime on the top of the refrigerator with a paper towel or cloth and full-strength white distilled vinegar.

How about those annoying tiny fruit flies over your bananas and around your kitchen? Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted white distilled vinegar close to the source.

If you are on a budget the above tips are easy and inexpensive ways to bring the best of your house before the next potential buyer arrives.

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I have recently been approached by several developers to give an opinion on construction and market value for their projects.

Some of these developers are already halfway into their projects. At this stage, it is very difficult for them to stick to their original plans while trying to fix problems. It's an issue that could result in loss of profit.

If you are planning to build a home, duplex or condos as an investment, you must first contact your Bahama Real Estate Association (BREA) licensed agent. The agent must have the experience and track record in the area of developing properties in order to provide sound market advice.

Your architect and real estate agent should work together from the very beginning of the project to help determine the best use of the land, spaces and correct building sizes for the area. A proper sized and well laid out home or condo will bring about the most profits. Overbuilding or under building will cost a developer dearly and could mean the difference between profit or loss.

When building as an investment with the intention of selling, bigger is not always better. Functionality, curve appeal and pricing will play a major role when selling a project and will allow you to maximize your profit. For most buyers, resale value is an important consideration, and they will not buy the largest model in the neighborhood.

Building medium size homes or condos in a good neighborhood will allow for the larger properties to help pull up your values. Always remember, by building and designing functional layouts while keeping in line with the neighborhood values, your home or condo will bring about the most profit.

Selling medium-size properties usually presents a great opportunity for younger professionals to buy and invest in a more prestigious neighborhood. These neighborhoods will provide the young buyers greater financial rewards when selling at a later time. It is always better to buy a smaller home or condo in a great neighborhood than to buy what we want at a lesser price in a less desirable neighborhood.

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Managing sellers' expectations on a daily basis is one of the most challenging tasks a real estate agent is faced with when listing homes in The Bahamas.

It is understandable for all sellers to wish for their properties to sell for top dollar in today's market. However, by the same token, we all need to be realistic about the state of our economy and current prices.

The key phrase in the above paragraph is "today's market". If your home has been lingering on the market for years without any offers, there is a good possibility you could be the latest casualty of market rejection. You may be wondering: why is the market rejecting my house? After all, I am only trying to sell for appraised value.

Now, here is the million dollar question: how long ago was the latest appraisal on your home conducted? If your answer is before 2007, your appraisal is no longer reflecting today's accurate market value.

Depending on your home's present condition, it may actually be worth 30 percent to 40 percent less than before the real estate recession started in 2007. Trying to hold on to yesterday's prices and expectations will not help when selling your home. Furthermore, the sales process will become futile and nothing short of a huge headache and a waste of time and money for you and your BREA Agent.

Most sellers fail to understand that banks in The Bahamas are now requesting for appraisals to be no older than three months in order to facilitate a mortgage. Even though you may have an old appraisal reflecting a much higher market price, the prospective new purchaser's appraisal will reflect today's market value which most likely will be much lower than your current asking price. Updating your old appraisal is a must in order to list your home competitively. By failing to do so, your home may remain on the market indefinitely.

The moral of this story: do not be quick to blame your real estate agent for failing to sell your home if you insist in conducting yesterday's business in today's reality. Remember, we all work on commission, and if your home is priced unrealistically that it becomes impossible to sell. Agents will have zero motivation to spend time, energy or money on a listing they know they are guaranteed never to sell.

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