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NASSAU-Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. are negotiating a joint venture to develop Baha Mar, the largest resort in the Caribbean. The estimated $1.6-billion initial project on New Providence Island calls for 3,550 hotel rooms and a massive casino. The current leader is Kerzner International’s 2,300-room Atlantis on Paradise Island.

Harrah’s, which acquired Caesar’s Entertainment in June, will build a 95,000-sf Caesars casino on the site. Starwood will run six hotels under its Sheraton, Westin, W and St. Regis brand names, including the existing Wyndham Nassau Resort on the property. Development is set to get under way in 2007 and open in 2010.

Privately held Baha Mar Development Co. is the lead investor with a 56.66% equity stake. Harrah’s will put up 33.33% and Starwood the remaining 10%.

The 1,000-acre site will include an 18-hole golf course; a 55-foot-high waterfall; and a network of canals connecting the casino, hotels and a 50,000-sf retail village. Other amenities include a freestanding luxury spa facility; an eco-water park attraction; 175,000 sf of meeting space; and a 20-acre beach and pool area with 3,000 feet of beachfront.

The Starwood hotels will include a 300-room W; a 300-room St. Regis; a 700-room Westin; and a 700-room Sheraton. The W and St. Regis hotels will each include 100 condominium units and day spas.

Los Angeles-based MHA Studio Inc. is the project’s design architect. MHA’s namesake Mike Hong designed the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas; Wynn Las Vegas; and the Gateway in Salt Lake City, a 3.2-million-sf retail-business district built for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Plans for future phases include additional hotels, a variety of residential offerings and a second 18-hole golf course.

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