9 Beaches aims to improve on 2005

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One of Bermuda?s most unique resorts 9 Beaches is preparing to open its doors for a new season which its operators intend will wipe out the memory of its difficult first year in 2005.

The new man at the helm Mark Steenge is determined things will work this time having addressed problems that affected the debut season including complaints about quality of service, cabanas being too warm and some guests expecting hotel-like bathrooms. And Island residents are being equally encouraged to view 9 Beaches as a getaway resort to spend a weekend or longer recharging themselves and relaxing, or simply a place to come and enjoy some beach activity or the on-site restaurant.

  • Photo by Glenn Tucker
Mark Steenge, the new general manager of 9 Beaches relaxes in one of the cabanas

    Photo by Glenn Tucker Mark Steenge, the new general manager of 9 Beaches relaxes in one of the cabanas


One of Bermuda?s most unique resorts 9 Beaches is preparing to open its doors for a new season which its operators intend will wipe out the memory of its difficult first year in 2005.

The new man at the helm Mark Steenge is determined things will work this time having addressed problems that affected the debut season including complaints about quality of service, cabanas being too warm and some guests expecting hotel-like bathrooms. And Island residents are being equally encouraged to view 9 Beaches as a getaway resort to spend a weekend or longer recharging themselves and relaxing, or simply a place to come and enjoy some beach activity or the on-site restaurant.

Original staff who were most enthusiastic for the success of the resort have been re-hired and spent much of the closed-season helping with repairs and maintenance around the site.

And the way the resort is marketed has also been altered to ensure guests know they are coming to a resort primarily focused on outdoor experiences, from snorkeling and water sports to enjoying its sprinkling of beaches. The 84 cabanas on the 18 acre site are canvas-sided mini cottages on stilts, including half a dozen that reach out above the shallow waters off Daniel?s Head Park in Somerset and provide breathtaking views including a plexi-glass viewing panel in the floor of the studio bedroom to watch the fish below.

9 Beaches is marketed as ?Bermuda?s only ultra casual resort? and Mr. Steenge refers to it as ?upscale camping? with the cabanas fitted out with quality beds, a washroom that includes a shower, a futon settee, mini fridge and double-door balcony.

In the peak months of 2005 occupancy levels dipped below 50 percent and slipped further under expectations in the autumn leading to end of year half-price deals that went some way towards rescuing the season from being a total washout.

Mr. Steenge said despite this experience ?all 17 investors have come back and said to me ?can it work??, and I said yes?.

He has been appointed the new general manager and has an extensive background in the hotel and hospitality industry.

He said enthusiastically: ?I don?t think there is a better place. The units are beautiful and simple and we can offer them at a low price of $275 a night, which includes breakfast.

?Last year one of the things that was perceived to be a problem was service. We went out and got as many Bermudians as possible, which was the right idea, but then we did not train them and that did not work. We have now got a friendly, efficient service. All the good ones have come back to work for us.?

The resort has also introduced staff training. The restaurant is under the direction of award-winning chef Guillaumd Brerd and offers ?simple, casual fare? that Mr. Steenge claims is the best of its kind at reasonable prices. Locals are welcome to enjoy lunch or dinner.

Mr. Steenge said: ?Whether it is Dr. Ewart Brown (Tourism Minister) or not, there is a movement on the Island at the moment that has put tourism on the up. ?People who are working here now want it to happen. They are committed to tourism. We have housekeepers coming in to do the painting and cleaning the ceiling fans.?

Even before 9 Beaches opens on April 24 the bookings are up on last year, said Mr. Steenge.

Air-conditioning units have been placed in the cabanas to rectify last year?s problems of the accommodation being too warm.

Customers seeking Four Seasons Hotel-type luxury are being discouraged or told clearly that there are no bathtubs or fine dining. ?9 Beaches is for people who want to enjoy the natural beauty of Bermuda at a much discounted price.

Kelly Manila, sales manager, added: ?I think it will work. We have a general manager with passion and belief. We hopefully will get some of the travel agents down here and once they live it ? they will sell it. The staff who have come back here believe it will work and I would like Bermudians to come and be our clientele as well as the tourists.?

The resort has an outdoor bar, tennis courts, various water sport activities, a games room and golf cart buggies that deliver refreshments to guests? rooms or wherever the guest happens to be on the site once they have called on a complimentary cell phone.

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