Grand Bahama History:
The Short-Lived Heyday

The International Bazaar was the first Epcot, a decade before Disney's.

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Grand Bahama History:
The Short-Lived Heyday

Freeport's International Bazaar was a groundbreaking development for the Caribbean. Whether you wanted a saki set from Japan or the latest Paris fashions, this one-stop shopping mall had it all.

No one realized it at the time, but this was the forerunner of Disney World's Epcot, and it was up and running in the Bahamas more than a decade before the other Epcot debuted in Orlando.

As planned, Freeport immediately became the in-spot for the rich and famous. It's where reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, an earlier and more flamboyant version of Bill Gates, spent his last days as a recluse in the Xanadu Beach Resort when he could have chosen anywhere in the world.

Other upscale resorts set new standards for the islands. Freeport/Lucaya seemed on an unstoppable roll. West End couldn't compete and it started fading away.

In a world as competitive as tourism, you have to fight to stay on top, and Freeport/Lucaya grew lazy. The hotels weren't well maintained and the attitude of the people grew sour.

Grand Bahama learned the hard way that when there's all the Caribbean to choose from, vacationers are as fickle as Internet stock traders.

But Grand Bahama learned its lesson and has been experiencing impressive new development.

The most ambitious undertaking is the 327-acre Our Lucaya which has been divided into two seemingly different hotels that share the same beach and many of the same facilities but there is a significant difference between the two.

Our Lucaya is a brand new property from the ground up and a bit more luxurious. The adjacent Reef Village is a renovation of an exist hotel, and its small bathrooms reflect this. Reef Village seems more of a family hotel, intended to appeal to children.

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