The turquoise waters of the Bahamas are one of the island country’s greatest riches, kept crystal clear by the protection of the surrounding reefs.
This environment is home to a wealth of marine life made up of from brightly hued coral to the pearly pink shelled conch – but it’s an ecosystem that is as delicate as it is beautiful, with the destination’s largest resort, Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, dedicated to preserving this vibrant underwater world.
Atlantis’ not-for-profit ocean conservation foundation, Atlantis Blue Project, now in its 17th year, is made up of 90 full-time Atlantis team members who protect the health of the oceans whose activities are funded by guests who choose to take part in marine interactions during their Caribbean holiday.
“Atlantis, for many years, has been focused on marine life and protecting the ecosystem through the work of our Atlantis team and the Blue Project Foundation, and that’s expanding every day,” President and Managing Director Audrey Oswell tells The CEO Magazine.
“In the future, you’ll see us expanding these efforts beyond the work we’ve been doing for many years to protect the ocean and its ecosystems to the environment and certainly to the community.”
Bahamas at heart
It’s a responsibility that is central to the resort’s core values and has become an important part of its identity. So much so that it seemed only natural to share these efforts with its guests who enjoy learning more about initiatives such as the mangrove planting program, reef protection, preservation and nurturing of endangered species.
“Our guests ask about the mangroves – they see them growing around the resort and they want to experience that,” Oswell explains. “The same thing with our coral nursery.”
We have a strong sense of commitment to the community and giving back to the community that we operate in.
It all represents part of the resort’s ‘Bahamas at Heart’ ethos which Oswell says is lived and breathed by its team members who go above and beyond.
“They really make the difference here, and show that we are ‘Bahamas at Heart’ and deliver really great ‘Bahamas at Heart’ service,” she enthuses.
“They just make the magic happen. And I’m so proud of their integrity, strength and commitment. They are really committed to creating lifelong memories and experiences for our guests.”
As the largest private employer in the Bahamas, Atlantis’ sense of pride and responsibility extends beyond its own team into the local community – once again demonstrating that ‘Bahamas at Heart’ mentality.
It does this through initiatives such as its Art Walk program that places pop-up kiosks in the resort’s Marina Village to be used by local craftspeople and farmers to sell their goods. Launched in 2017, many have gone on to start their own businesses on the back of their success at Atlantis.
“We have a strong sense of commitment to the community and giving back to the community that we operate in,” Oswell notes.
“It’s so important when you’re the largest employer in a country like this. It may be on a smaller scale than it is for many of the large employers in the United States but, for us, it’s all the same. It’s all relative.”
This sense of doing the right thing underpins Oswell’s entire leadership philosophy and informs each move that she makes.
“My signature model has always been to do the right thing and that extends throughout the organization and all the decisions that we make,” she says. “And certainly in my position there’s a lot of tough decisions that I have to make from time to time.
To play a pivotal role in preserving, protecting and advancing its legacy is just a wonderful opportunity, and I feel fortunate to be part of that.
“But I always go back to the basics and say, ‘Audrey, do the right thing’, and I think that it’s helped me throughout my entire career.”
Transparency and integrity have helped Oswell to navigate those tough calls throughout her career – as has her ability to ‘step out’. “Back in the early days of my career, there weren’t a lot of senior female executives,” she recalls.
So she took the opportunity to work in a number of different departments to gain a full grasp of the business. This rounded understanding, combined with her passion for what she does, has led her to where she is today.
When the opportunity presented itself to take up the role of President and Managing Director at Atlantis, Oswell had no hesitation.
“It was a once in a lifetime chance to oversee the strategic growth and direction of a legendary resort that is just so well known and on so many individuals’ bucket lists,” she recalls. “To play a pivotal role in preserving, protecting and advancing its legacy is just a wonderful opportunity, and I feel fortunate to be part of that.”
She had previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Gaming Officer at the resort before she was appointed to her current position in 2017. Now, more than five years into the role, she remains equally driven, and is particularly excited about the other developments that are underway.
A new resort entitled Somewhere Else will launch at The Beach in 2024 – a collaboration with David Grutman and Pharrell Williams.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind property that will have a myriad of dining and entertainment experiences and will further enhance and solidify our foothold in the live entertainment space,” she reveals.
Atlantis is also in the process of renovating The Royal, due for completion in May 2023. Meanwhile, it unveiled its new water play fort for younger children and toddlers in November and commenced a total revamp of its casino.
We’re extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished with marine life and endangered species and our efforts to preserve and grow the ecosystems in the Caribbean waters.
“There’s nothing else like Atlantis. We’re not just about the slides, we’re not just about five miles of beautiful beaches and we’re not just about 20 pools and lagoons. We’re about doing the right thing for the ocean, environment, our people and community,” Oswell stresses.
“We’re extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished with marine life and endangered species and our efforts to preserve and grow the ecosystems in the Caribbean waters.
“It’s great that people come here and enjoy everything we have to offer and have a great time, but we want to be known for the great efforts and passion that our team members have about everything that we touch.”
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