The key components are zero waste to landfill, 100% renewable energy by 2030, wastewater treatment, protecting and enhancing the surrounding habitats, and environmental monitoring.
The project — approved by the Bahamas pending an ongoing environmental impact assessment — is facing pushback from Atlantis Paradise Island and others voicing concerns about harbor traffic, wastewater treatment, structures that could affect the coral reef and the potential to pull visitors away from downtown Nassau, hurting visitor spending.
Still others, like Graeme Davis, president of Baha Mar water park on Cable Beach, has told local media he'll support the Royal Caribbean project provided it meets the highest environmental standards.
'Commentary without facts'
'A lot of the commentary that's being made has been made without any facts,' Bayley said in an interview with Seatrade Cruise News. ' ... Now, a lot of facts are being made available.'
The 17-acre development, which includes four acres of Crown Land, is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership, a concept put forward by Deputy Prime Minister/Tourism Minister Chester Cooper that will enable Bahamians to own up to 49% equity in the beach club.
'Economic win-win' and 'gold standard' environmental plan
'The economic model that's being created is new, innovative and truly a win-win and we believe our environmental plan is the gold standard,' Bayley said. 'Hopefully people will see it that way and recognize that we've put a lot of thought and energy into this ... and will be pleased about the project.'
The Beach Club at Paradise Island is projected to have an average daily visitation of 2,500 to 2,750 when it opens in 2025. That would be a fraction of the passengers Royal Caribbean plans to carry to Nassau.
The line currently brings more than 1m passengers, a figure Bayley expects will balloon to 2.5m by 2027.
Utopia of the Seas on all-Bahamas itinerary?
The drivers for that growth include an increasing number of short cruises, that he called 'very, very popular' and which draw many new people to cruising.
According to local media reports, Royal Caribbean plans to deploy the sixth Oasis-class ship, Utopia of the Seas, on an all-Bahamas itinerary when it debuts in 2024. This, alone, would be a big boost to Nassau numbers.
Newly released environmental details
Royal Caribbean said its newly released beach club details show an environmental model that combines the company's sustainability principles and proven practices with the Bahamas 'stringent environmental process.'
Components include zero waste to landfill, with no single-use plastics, compostable service ware at food and beverage venues, biodigesters to reduce food and other organic waste, and used cooking oil going into biodiesel for energy production. Royal Caribbean said it will also develop partnerships with Bahamian companies focused on recycling and innovative waste reduction programs.
The company said the beach club will operate 100% on renewable energy by 2030. This will incorporate smart design considerations during construction, including natural shade and low flow filters. Royal Caribbean also intends to invest in renewable green energy production — solar, wind and hydro — onsite and via new partnerships throughout New Providence.
No dredging or overwater cabanas
Addressing concens about beach and coral degradation, Royal Caribbean said it will not dredge the area in and around Paradise Island or build overwater cabanas. It plans to minimize the impact on marine life by monitoring and adjusting the location of the limited structures, such as the floating pier, in place during construction on the southern shore of the island.
Royal Caribbean said the beach club will have a dedicated and best-in-class wastewater treatment plant to process 100% of the wastewater generated onsite. More than 95% of the treated wastewater is intended for beneficial reuse, and the rest will be used for landscaping and vegetation.
The western end of Paradise Island has fallen into disrepair, with several former residential properties neglected or abandoned. Royal Caribbean said it will restore this area by adding native plants and vegetation, removing invasive, non-native species and only constructing buildings on previously altered property or areas with significant invasive or non-native plants.
During building and operations of the beach club, a Bahamian company will conduct environmental monitoring and publicly report information through an environmental scorecard.
Supplemental public hearing planned
Royal Caribbean plans to hold a supplemental public hearing in conjunction with the Bahamas’ Department of Environmental Planning and Protection. And further environmental details, including answers to questions stakeholders submitted during the initial public consultation in September 2021, are to be released.
'Good to have the public discourse'
Critics of the Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island continue to air their concerns in ongoing local media reports.
In response, Bayley said many projects, regardless of location, engage people with a lot of opinions.
'It's good to have the public discourse, good to get everyone's opinions. As you go through that journey of sharing more information and listening to people's opinions, hopefully we all end up with an outcome that is as good as you can possibly make it and makes the vast majority of people pleased with the outcome.
'... We feel the project has great merit and we think the vast majority of Bahamians will see that and believe that.'