HAMILTON, Bermuda - The Bermuda Hotel Association (BHA) is supporting the plans to redevelop the Fairmont Southampton resort in the face of opposition from environmental groups.
The resort was shut down in 2020 after the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic severely affected tourism to Bermuda. Premier David Burt said the closure was the “biggest challenge” for Bermuda and also involved the loss of more than 700 jobs.
The 593 room Fairmont Southampton has been sold to a partnership led by Miami-based investment firm Gencom and will be remaining under the brand and management of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Gencom said in a statement.
The BHA says the redevelopment is vital to increase air visitor arrivals to the island.
“Increasing the overall hotel inventory in Bermuda will result in a significant increase in airlift and year-round business. Bermuda’s tourism economy will directly benefit from this investment with the reopening of the hotel. The BHA continues to stand behind this important project,” said BHA chief executive officer, Stephen Todd.
Plans for the redevelopment of the resort were revealed last year while an application for a special development order (SDO) adding 261 units to the property were unveiled last month.
But while the renovations to the resort have been widely applauded, environmental groups have condemned the SDO application.
The Bermuda National Trust (BNT), in a letter signed by its executive director, Karen Border, said that the properties will have a “severe” negative impact on the site’s tourism offering and the environment in general.
Our primary concern is with the addition of the 147 proposed residential units, most of which will be sold to foreign buyers as second homes and would bring very limited benefit to Bermuda and Bermudians.
“Gencom will gain from the sale of these units, but everyone else would lose, as they would have a severe negative impact on the tourism amenity at Fairmont Southampton and our environment overall,” said BNT executive director, Karen Border.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said it had extended the public consultation deadline for making submissions on the SDO to Friday, May 26 this year.
“It is vital to understand that all who wish to express their views and have them contribute to the final decision on any submission must follow the proper procedure to be considered,” the ministry added.
The BHA said that the investment in the resort will aid in the organization's aims of increasing the numbers of air visitors and overall national hotel occupancy, and improving the return on investment to hotel investors.
“The proposed investment in the Fairmont Southampton will certainly further these goals by boosting the number of hotel beds on the island. This will, in turn, have a positive impact on tourism in Bermuda, as that of our overall economy.”