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Yacht Haven Grande Welcomes First Megayacht


Nov. 17, 2006 – The Yacht Haven Grande received its first guest Thursday: the 192-foot, glistening white triple-deck megayacht Linda Lou.
It was an elegant guest for an elegant marina an integral part of the $160 million-plus development. And a far cry from the dilapidated former tenant, the forsaken Yacht Haven Hotel, which was a blight on the neighborhood for years.
It was a joyful docking, with invited guests hailing the yacht's arrival. "Cruise ship passengers were cheering us on from their balconies," Elie Finegold, Island Global Yachting president, said Friday.
"I heard they were clapping up at the Banana Tree Grill at Bluebeard's, too," said Alex Andrade, Yacht Haven Grande general manager. Island Global Yachting manages Yacht Haven Grande.
Both men were still filled with adrenaline Friday as they took a guest on a golf-cart tour of the ultra-upscale development.
"This is so special to the Caribbean," said Finegold. "It brings glamour."
Finegold had directed a similar tour of the property in January, except close-toed shoes and hard hats were de rigeur at that time. Climbing over boards and bricks on the way to look at what is now an almost completed second-story condominium, Finegold looked down at all the work going on below. "We are looking at the raw materials of elegance," he commented at the time.
The condos go for $2 million and up, and according to Finegold, "about half are already sold."
Friday, those raw materials had evolved. Where there were once bricks and rubble, a graceful brick esplanade weaves through the property, tying it all together. It is bordered with handsome royal palm trees, situated throughout the property in small stands, or accentuating building facades.
During the January tour, Finegold had pointed to some rubble. "This looks like a pile of dirt with a couple sticks. What we are standing on is the underground utility and water lines, Internet connections, all the things that go in first," he said.
What we were actually standing on, Finegold pointed out, was one of three restaurants. "You see it's not against the dock. We left several feet of water between the dock and the restaurant so it will be true waterfront dining."
We tooled by the same area in our golf cart Friday, where the soon-to-open Wikked restaurant has grown out of the rubble. "Look," Finegold said, pointing at the channel we are riding by. "True waterfront dining. And we have lots of fish here, some big ones, too."
Wikked will serve breakfast, sandwiches and dinner fare. "We expect a boat crowd to gather here, the crews, generally a younger crowd," said Andrade.
"We are becoming a hospitality company," he says. That becomes evident from the gracious employees at the marina office counter to the smartly attired dock employees. As we ride out on the docks, we are greeted by men and women, all decked out in crisp navy blue Bermuda shorts, with navy-and-white-striped polo shirts.
"You see how the crew is working on the yacht," Finegold says. "That's the kind of yacht that will be coming here, meticulous, well-maintained." Indeed, there must be at least five crew members polishing the yacht. And another dozen or so marina employees are working on the docks, polishing the cleats, working on the electrical installations.
"We have security at the entrance of each of the piers," Finegold points out. The main marina building has a customs area, a computer center, showers for crew, a laundry room, and marina-related shops.
As we roll on down the pier closest to the shore, Andrade suddenly halts the action. "Look, Elie," he says. "The sign is up our first sign!"
Both men gaze at the black lettering on the wall before A White House/Black Market shop lodged in a handsome building — the ground floor of one of the condominium units, where the upscale retail outlets are located.
Slated to open in the next few months are Tommy Bahama, Coach, Chico's, Sun Glass Hut, Little Switzerland and several other upscale retailers.
This area is where another restaurant is under construction, the Fat Turtle, which will specialize in barbeque fare. Finegold waves his arm in that general direction. "This will be a courtyard where we will have music, entertainment, a place for relaxing and for kids, too," he says. "We'll have a Ben and Jerry's nearby and a hot dog cart; and a Bad Ass coffee outlet. It will be a village square atmosphere."
The buildings have a Caribbean feel, with rockwork incorporated into the structures. "We worked toward that," Finegold says, noting that the spa building had to be repainted a lighter shade of yellow. "Now, it fits in," he says.
Another restaurant, the Grande Cru, will be a martini bar and bistro; but the "creme de la cr


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