Amid stunning white sand beaches in the Bahamas and just a stone’s throw away from Miami is the recently completed Resorts World Bimini Bay Casino. Located on North Bimini Island, Resorts World Bimini was planned as a new destination at the Bimini Bay Resort that is expected to enhance the property’s current offerings. SOSH Architects was tasked with creating a boutique casino that would bring the flair and flavor of Miami’s South Beach to the resort while allowing guests to savor the beauty of the Bahamas.
As the firm’s first venture in the Caribbean, this project holds a great deal of significance for SOSH and reflects the firm’s ability to diversify its offerings. One would expect that the unfamiliarity of the environment would have presented a few issues for the firm, but careful planning and a strong desire to learn as much about the island as possible from the client helped the team find its footing. “[We did not run into] challenges that would be unexpected [when] working with any Caribbean island project,” SOSH Architects Senior Associate Chris Menchin, NCARB, LEED AP said. “We were [also] able to capitalize on our client’s expertise, as they have been working successfully on the island for years.”
Lead-time and logistics associated with getting materials to a remote island location were definitely factors the SOSH team had to take into consideration—and there is no doubt that they did. From the initial site visit to the casino opening, the project took under a year to complete, a timeline SOSH felt was on target for a project of this size. This included five months for conceptualization, design and construction documentation, followed by six months of construction.
SOSH’s approach for the project was to work with the existing structure and expand on it to develop the boutique casino destination the client wanted. “The ownership of this project is a partnership between the resort owner and an international gaming corporation, and they both wanted to create an exciting luxury destination that carried the look and feel of South Beach Miami,” Menchin explained. “The resort owner, RAV Bahamas, partnered with Genting Gaming, the casino operator. Genting primarily provided our team with their design intent in the early stages of the project, and RAV provided the bulk of the construction. SOSH has extensive background in casino design, and we were able to expand on their initial design ideas and balance the needs of the construction and budget.”
The firm renovated and expanded upon an existing structure on the site, which now connects to the existing restaurant and pool area located to the north, with the marina on the east, which allows for the development of future amenities on site. For the exterior of the casino, SOSH reclad the roof in standing seam metal, reflecting characteristics of the local architecture. White stucco and a neutral color palette used for the majority of the exterior accentuate color-changing LED lights at night. Natural stones were used for wall cladding and paving for both the exterior and interior.
Stepping into the lobby, guests may not even notice they’ve left the outdoors, as the transition from exterior to interior is seamless. The resort entry includes a water-wall feature and floating wood canopy that carries a tropical, outdoor feel into the entry. This is continued throughout the property with planters on the stairway and the integration of building materials from the outside. The bar and lounge area is surrounded by windows allowing natural light to stream into the building and provide splendid views of the marina and easy access to the dining terraces outside.
“It’s all about the location for this project,” Mechin explained. “The new Resorts World Bimini is the corner stone of a marina development on North Bimini Bay Island in the Bahamas. Views to the marina and the bay are key in its design. You don’t often find a casino with large windows overlooking its surroundings, but it was essential [for us].”
Due to the island’s proximity to Miami, it offers ferry service to and from the popular party city and the relaxing Bimini Bay. The Bimini Bay Resort’s location already makes it a prime attraction, and the casino addition is expected to increase the number of visitors to the resort and help the property cater to both day-trippers and extended-stay visitors.
“[As] Bimini island is located only 50 miles from Miami, our design cues were taken from the Miami South Beach color palette, with inspiration taken from the surrounding beach, water and tropical feel of the resort’s environment,” Menchin said when asked about the interior design scheme. “The vision for this project was to create a luxury resort with a modern tropical island/South Beach feel.” This vision is particularly evident in the gaming area where the use of ceiling and lighting elements over the gaming pit creates a more intimate, modern space.
With such a beautiful location as a starting point, it would be understandable if Menchin could not specify a feature of the new casino he likes best. However, he does have one—the table games area. “In order to define the high-end table gaming area, SOSH used a 3-form art glass wall that provides both exclusivity and privacy to the VIP guests utilizing the space,” he said. “Other materials used to distinguish the area include leather-upholstered ceiling and walls.
Menchin also singled out a favorite moment during the project. “The team had the opportunity to take a sea plane during a particular site visit,” he shared. “It is definitely not something we do with every project!”
There is no doubt that this casino will boost tourism at the property and make it a must-stop location for all those visiting Miami. More importantly, the new addition will increase job opportunities for the local community at and around the property. SOSH is proud to have been part of the expansion, and Menchin said the firm hopes the project will lead to a long-term relationship for future development.