A World of Its Own: The Lucayan Many people call it "Freeport" after its capital city, but Grand Bahama Island, just a 52-mile hop from Florida's eastern coast, has much to offer beyond its downtown area. Tourists are starting to get the idea, heading off on world-class bonefish expeditions and ecotourism trips. But how could GBI capture a larger share of the meetings market? After a five-year effort, the answer is now under construction: the new Lucayan Harbour Plaza Resort. GBI officials predict that the $250 million Lucayan project will reposition their island as a premier meeting destination.

A short drive from downtown Freeport, the Lucayan promises to offer a world of its own. And, from what I experienced of the first phase, Reef Village (formerly the Grand Bahama Beach Hotel), which opened in April, it will deliver on that promise. Named for the original American tribe that thrived on the island before Columbus set sail for the new world, the Lucayan Resort is keeping to its roots with bright Caribbean colors, furnishings, and artwork.

The 550 guest rooms, seven-plus acres of white sand beach, newly renovated 18-hole Lucayan Country Club course, and Camp Lucaya for the kids are all up and running. The next two phases, on track for completion in winter 2000, will add more than 40,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 17,000-square-foot ballroom. Also in the works: two hotel wings with 800 rooms and suites, a registration area, a full-service spa, tennis facilities, The Reef Club course (an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr. design), a casino, shopping center, movie theater, restaurants, and two additional themed pools. --Sue Pelletier