Genting became a name known to South Florida in 2011 when it embarked on a plan to open a hotel-casino. On Saturday the company did open such a property — about 50 miles east of The Miami Herald building.
It’s in another country, and it’s much smaller, but what the heck.
The Hilton partially opened in April 2015, but visitors still needed to be shuttled to the casino – only about 100 yards away – because of major hotel construction taking place between the two points. On Saturday, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie and Genting Group Chairman KT Lim led a ribbon-cutting outside the main hotel entrance, and the indoor hallway between the hotel and the casino opened, as well as other Phase II portions: a pool atop the five-story building, a ground-floor lazy river, spa and more dining.
Resorts World Bimini also can offer the entire slate of casino games. Racetrack casinos in Florida have only slots, electronic table games and poker, and the Seminole Casinos also have blackjack, baccarat and other table games. So Bimini is the closest venue for craps, roulette and a sports book (but there aren’t enough people for poker). The casino is small: about 160 slot machines and 15 table games, approximately one-tenth of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, for example.
Resorts World Bimini follows the model of other Genting properties by not sticking slot machines in customers’ faces. (The plan for Resorts World Miami called for the gambling to be located up on the fourth floor.) Such an “integrated resorts” approach is possible for the company because most of their business is based on table games and bigger players, and less on slot machine play and a large volume of patrons.
Resorts World bought property in Miami in 2011, then failed to persuade the Florida legislature to allow resort-style casinos in Florida. Lim began working with Bimini officials in 2012 to open Resorts World Bimini, reviving a vision he had back in 1999. (It stalled.) Genting bought the Bimini Bay Resort, built a new casino and embarked on building the Hilton while renting out nearby villas to gamblers.
Currently there are 42 charter, seaplane or commercial flights a week to Bimini, and Genting is working with the government for an expanded landing strip, which would mean bigger and better planes would bring customers. Lim also announced Saturday that Genting will begin another boat transportation plan – this time with a sleek passenger ferry instead of the Bimini SuperFast cruise ship that shut down in January – sometime this summer.
The current seaplane solution is very nice for those who take it – fewer than 30 minutes from Miami and not even a hint of cruise-ship style customs logjams – but a roundtrip flight is about $400 and it doesn’t work for the masses.
Bimini is a collection of islands and is the westernmost of the Bahamas islands, about 50 miles from Miami. The hotel rates are about $250 per night. Go to RWBimini.com.