Bermuda Tourism's five-year plan is working

BERMUDA — At the recent CHICOS conference held in Bermuda, delegates heard about the island's five year tourism plan, and the various construction projects on the island.

By Steve Isherwood, Publisher

The Fairmont Southampton, the largest hotel in Bermuda, was the site of the 2018 CHICOS Conference Nov. 8-9.

The Fairmont Southampton, the largest hotel in Bermuda, was the site of the 2018 CHICOS Conference Nov. 8-9.

BERMUDA — At the recent CHICOS conference held in Bermuda, delegates heard about the island's five year tourism plan, and the various construction projects on the island. 

After decades of complacency, Bermuda as a destination has been rejuvenated in the past few years, as the four- and a-half year-old
Bermuda Tourism Authority emerges with a five-year plan that is working.  For 10 straight quarters, dating back to
January 2106, visitor arrivals and spending have increased. 

Kevin Dallas.

Kevin Dallas.

“It’s an incredible victory streak for
our industry partners and the National Tourism Plan is designed to propel us,
collectively, onto the next level of evolution as a visitor destination,” Kevin Dallas, Bermuda Tourism CEO, wrote in his introduction to the CHICOS conference.

“Last month, we rolled out Bermuda’s
National Tourism Plan at our annual Tourism Summit,” said Dallas. “The document is our roadmap for success
through 2025 and can be described as our country’s commitment to sustainable
and balanced growth in its tourism industry.”

Jill Dill, PR projects manager, Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Jill Dill, PR projects manager, Bermuda Tourism Authority.

The Bermuda Tourism Authority is an
arm’s length government agency, 40-people strong, supported by all political
parties and tasked to drive tourism and investment to the island.  Statistics from 2017 show that Bermuda
recorded a 20 per cent increase in visitors, leisure air arrivals were up 11
per cent, air capacity went up 8 per cent, and hotel occupancy showed a 9 per
cent increase. 

The island has the best credit rating of
any of the Caribbean countries, an A++ S&P rating. Major redevelopment and
renovations have improved the island’s products.  This 21-square-mile island is just 90 minutes
by air from New York City, and a few hours from major U.S. and Canadian
gateways. But what is most noticeable is the new resort construction for the
first time in years.

Last year and early this year, six local
properties did extensive renovations. 
One such property was the ultra-luxury Rosewood Bermuda, located on 240
acres of waterfront, and formerly known as Rosewood Tucker’s Point. 

Hotel Rosewood Bermuda.

Hotel Rosewood Bermuda.

Gencom, a
U.S. based real estate investment and development firm, which purchased the
resort in mid-2017, closed the property for five months at the beginning
of this year, and then invested more than $25 million in a comprehensive renovation including a complete
redesign of the resort's 88 elevated guestrooms, lobby, Beach Club, Golf
Clubhouse and Sense, A Rosewood Spa, as well as enhanced meeting space and new
food and beverage outlets and concepts.

Rosewood Bermuda model room.

Rosewood Bermuda model room.

“We’re pleased with the results,”
said Phil Keb, executive vice-president of Gencom of the resort which reopened in June. “ADR is way up, and we
expect follow-up investment to yield similar results. We’re bullish on
Bermuda,” he told a CHICOS conference panel moderated by CBRE Canada’s David
Larone.

The small, intimate Rosedon Hotel.

The small, intimate Rosedon Hotel.

Other properties, such as the small,
intimate Rosedon Hotel near downtown Hamilton, created new meeting space. Modern but charmingly old-fashioned, Rosedon’s history dates from 1904.
The boutique property features individually decorated rooms with fine European
fabrics, classic furnishings and four-poster beds surround a relaxing heated
pool and tropical gardens full of blue passion flowers and birds of paradise.

“Construction and renovations are already
underway to create outside rooms and a tent for large group, and private dining
events,” the company notes on its website. “We are also developing a business
centre, which we expect to open in 2019. In the meantime, we’re happy to host
events for modest business meetings, seminars and nuptials in our private
dining room, on the front porch, by the pool or in our dazzling and magnificent
gardens.”

Rooftop dining at The Loren.

Rooftop dining at The Loren.

The Loren at Pink Beach, which now
offers 45 king, one, two and three-bedroom suites, rebuilt, creating impressive
dining facilities such as the Pink Beach Club.  The original hotel, The Pink Beach CLub cottage
colony, was a traditional Bermudian place complete with pastel-coloured
gingerbread cottages that were damaged by hurricanes. In the new version, designed
by owner Stephen King, the design is modern and angular with sweeping views of
the beach. And all the guest rooms and suites were elevated by 20 feet to
ensure such hurricane damage would not occur again. 

The first hotel built on Bermuda in decades, The Loren has raised the
bar among the island’s resorts. This includes its rooms and suites, which bring
a new level of elegance and style to the destination. This seaside resort
embraces the clean and modern aesthetic of an urban boutique hotel and the
result is a set of sophisticated retreats with endless ocean views. Marble bathrooms,
Malin+Goetz amenities, and SFERRA towels and linens complete the picture of
elegance.

Rendering showing St. Regis Bermuda.

Rendering showing St. Regis Bermuda.

Also exciting is the $325 million new-build
St. Regis hotel and residences.  Located at Fort St. Catherine on St.
George's Island, the 30-unit private property condominium boasts five-star
luxury beachfronts with contemporary designs, spanning 688 linear feet of
ocean front property and breathtaking views.  

The St. Regis Bermuda luxury hotel includes 120 elegant rooms and suites,
all with private balconies overlooking the St Catherine’s beach, dining outlet,
a luxurious spa, adult and family swimming pools, 18 hole golf course, 3,000
sq. feet of meeting facilities, state of the art fitness center, kids and teens
club, The St. Regis Bar and Wine Vault, and a 24-hour casino.  There are three residences, and The
Residences each include 15 units per tower. 

Andres Osorio.

Andres Osorio.

Andres Osorio, lead
designer, hospitality for OBMI, the company that is building the St. Regis,
told the CHICOS conference that they had learned a number of lessons from last
year’s hurricanes. “For every dollar you invest in building code requirements,
you get $3 to $4 back. The codes say you should build five to six feet above
the flood line. At the St. Regis, the pool deck is 12 feet above and the actual
building is 14 feet.

Part of the Tourism Act provides
immediate incentives, such as customs duty, payroll and occupancy taxes,
etc.  Bermuda hosted the Caribbean Hotel
Investment Conference and Operational Summit (CHICOS), for the second
consecutive year at the Fairmount Southampton, the largest hotel on the island
at 593 rooms.

The Bermuda Tourism Authority is data
driven. Changing ad agencies in North America, it has also targeted Canada for
additional growth.  It is very strategic
in its marketing dollars. Air lift is crucial to any of the Caribbean islands,
and Bermuda is two years away from opening a newly built and expanded, modern
airport.

“We understand the need to maintain our
current momentum while at the same time strive to win in markets we haven’t won
in before,” said Dallas. “We’re up for the challenge!