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Romora Bay Renovates, Builds Fitness Centre

Two years after its name made headlines round the world as the resort where the world’s most sought-after runaway, the Barefoot Bandit, was captured, Romora Bay Club & Resort in Harbour Island is preparing for a different kind of attention.

The colourful harbourfront property is upgrading rooms and baths, building a fitness centre and renovating common areas hoping for the best season since the economic freefall in 2008.

“The bookings, particularly for the marina, look good,” said Client Manager Anne Ward. “So this year when we closed during the fall, we plowed full speed ahead with renovations.” Only local contractors and artisans were considered for the work that will top $500,000. Contractor Christopher Ritchie was awarded the main contract and Gregory Higgs, the contract for the gym next to the dock master’s office.

Timing for the makeover was not accidental.

This summer, the marina was chockablock full for American Independence weekend, the first time every one of its 40 slips was filled since the marina opened in 2008. Romora Bay earned environmental praise by building the marina without dredging, by declining the lucrative option of selling fuel, placing a dye in docking vessels so any discharge into the harbor would be detected and by creating an educational experience for youngsters with areas protected areas under the docks.

“Dredging, particularly if it is not coordinated with the outgoing tide, churns up sand and silt that covers coral reefs, damaging fragile life,” explained a spokesman for Bonachella Investments, which owns the historic property on nearly six acres of some of Harbour Island’s most treasured land.

“Fortunately, we were able to complete without dredging because of the depth of the seabed and the design of the docks.”

According to John Davidson, Vice President of Bonachella Investments, protecting marine resources was paramount.

“That is why we elected not to dredge, not to sell fuel or offer any other marine-related services that could result in any sort of pollution or damage,” said Davidson, a conservation activist whose father was a founder of Bonefish Tarpon Unlimited, an organisation dedicated to protecting tarpon and bonefish in Florida and The Bahamas. “Any country blessed with the marine resources The Bahamas enjoys commands and deserves respect for those resources.”

The upgrades, said the manager, will complement the marina and offer guests full fitness facilities with a universal, free weights and various cardio equipment.

“The irony,” said the manager of the resort best known for its restaurants and casual friendliness among marina guests, “is that now people can work out before they sip the famous Barefoot Bandit cocktail or eat as much as they like at either Sunsets Grille or La Cantina Steakhouse in the evening without feeling guilty, knowing they can work out in the morning before they swim in the infinity pool. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Renovations to the 15-room resort are expected to be completed by December 1.

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