New owners bold vision for Fairmont Hamilton Princess
A marina that can accommodate superyachts, a waterfront restaurant, revamped swimming pools —- and maybe even a casino one day if the law allows it.
Thats the vision of the new Bermudian owners of the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, who will spend a minimum of $50 million to enhance and upgrade the historic hotel.
Thirty-two-year-old Andrew Green, who along with brother Alexander, 34, and their father Peter, now own the hotel, sat down yesterday with The Royal Gazette to talk about the familys plans for the property and ways to improve tourism.
Allowing casinos in Bermuda may not be the absolute answer to reviving tourism but, Mr Green said: Certainly a casino will create new revenue streams.
And he noted that one study done had found around 30 percent of tourists said allowing gambling is something Bermuda should consider and certainly we cant ignore that.
Mr Green revealed his wealthy family had been looking to invest in a Bermuda hotel property for the past few years, having been previously involved in luxury London hotels Claridges, the Berkeley and the Connaught.
We were looking at a few sites really, but we came to the conclusion that the best opportunity was to take on an existing hotel and upgrade it, he said, adding, We looked very closely at doing a deal at some other properties, but really we couldnt get it to work financially.
They were also attracted to the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, because it had both business and leisure business potential, he said.
He said Bermuda did not necessarily need more hotel rooms, it just needed to upgrade the properties it has.
Asked whether the family had been concerned about the closure of major hotels on the Island and previous troubles of Tuckers Point, Pink Beach Club, and Newstead Belmont Hills, he said: Everybody knows Bermuda is not necessarily the cheapest place to do business, but the Fairmont Hamilton Princesss unique advantage is being in Hamilton.
He added that the hotels occupancy was a lot higher than expected.
The Fairmont Hamilton Princess is just a block from the Greens new $100 million Waterloo House commercial and residential development, which already is 90 percent leased by companies, including a new hedge fund.
The family has declined to disclose terms of the deal to purchase the hotel from Global Hospitality Investments.
Mr Green said the $50 million cost of enhancing the property will come from a combination of debt and cash.
We need a few months to evaluate the options and consider how best to renovate the hotel once weve had a closer look at the engineering but we would aim to commence [work] within a year, he said.
With a hospitality development project of this scale, the most important thing is to avoid disruption to guests as far as possible as we dont want to jeopardise their enjoyment. Any renovations would be done in consultation with Fairmont in order to use their expertise at minimising any disruption. Recommendations are the lifeblood of a hotel. Its early days yet and well communicate our development plans once they have been finalised.
But Mr Green said they will be going forward with a 60- to 90-berth marina that can accommodate superyachts, which he feels is a market Bermuda is missing out on. They want to create a restaurant by the harbourfront and continue the guest room renovations begun by the previous owner. A substantial upgrade of the swimming pools is also planned in the hopes of encouraging more leisure visitors and families with children.
Mr Green said he saw the hotel as having a dual business and leisure clientele: We have business people Mondays to Fridays and could have families on the weekend.
On boosting tourism, he said: I think the biggest issue Bermuda tourism has is awareness of where Bermuda is. Very few people know we are one-and-a-half hours away from the US East Coast.
And we have a much longer tourism season than say, the Mediterranean or a ski resort. But they make it work so we should be able to make it work with our season.
Both the Green brothers were educated at Saltus in Bermuda and then Brown University. Their father still lives in Bermuda on Marshalls Island. Their mother Mary-Jean died at the age of 38 of breast cancer. The Mary-Jean Mitchell Green Foundation was created in her memory.
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