Some try to create a paradise on Earth while others want to own it. Resort operator Kerzner International has full or partial ownership stakes in about 10 luxury hotel properties, which are located in tropical settings in the Bahamas, Dubai, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, and South Africa. Its Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas is home to an ocean-themed casino-resort, featuring about 3,000 rooms, 40 restaurants and bars, and 60 acres of pools, waterfalls, and marine habitats. Its Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai is modeled after the Bahamas resort. Other Kerzner resort properties operate under the One&Only brand. South African hotel magnate Sol Kerzner owns a majority of Kerzner International.
Atlantis Paradise Island is an ocean-themed resort destination built around a 140-acre waterscape and the world's largest open-air marine habitat. With an affection for the entertainment industry, the property has famously hosted star-studded weekend galas, and has served as the set for movies and TV shows (Ugly Betty, Casino Royale). In 2010 the resort hosted Jerry Seinfeld for a night of stand-up comedy (tickets were available to hotel guests only).
The company is expanding at a steady pace. Its One&Only The Palm, Dubai opened in late 2010, and its One&Only Cape Town, South Africa opened the previous year. These properties bolster the existing portfolio of One&Only-branded resorts, which includes locations in the Bahamas, Maldives, Mauritus, and Mexico. Kerzner's most recent development not associated with the One&Only brand is the Mazagan Beach Resort, a 500-room casino resort in Morocco, which opened in 2009.
While Kerzner International has not been shy about promoting a lavish lifestyle, it is not immune from a troubled economy. The company was developing a multibillion-dollar resort on the Las Vegas Strip through a partnership with MGM Resorts International. The project has been suspended, however, as a result of the downturn in the market. Kerzner International opened its Atlantis, The Palm on Dubai's man-made, palm-shaped island in 2008 to much fanfare. The grand opening of the $1.5 billion hotel turned heads for its timing; the $20 million party occurred as the global economic crisis
The company in 2006 took itself private for $3.6 billion; the move was led by a consortium of private equity investors including chairman and company founder Sol Kerzner, son and then-CEO Butch Kerzner, and other stakeholders that include Istithmar PJSC, Providence Equity Partners, and Colony Capital. (In 2006 Butch Kerzner died in a helicopter crash. He was flying in the Dominican Republic, surveying potential development sites for the company.) In 2010 Kerzner rejected a unsolicited $3.4 billion buyout offer from investment firm BMB Group.
Sol Kerzner opened his first hotel, the Beverly Hills, in South Africa in 1964.