Morgans Point resort first phase could open in 2016
The first phase of a $2 billion hotel, golf course and marina resort at Morgans Point could be open for business by the beginning of 2016, according to developers.
And Craig Christensen is confident that the new hotel — and Bermuda as a whole — has the pulling power to bring about an upswing in the fortunes of the tourism industry.
Speaking exclusively to The Royal Gazette, Mr Christensen explained that a Government clean-up of the 250-acre site — a former US naval annex — had been going well, and should enable his company to break ground by the end of this year.
A boutique hotel of up to 140 rooms along with some residential units could be built within two years of construction work starting, with Mr Christensen hopeful that it will be open before the summer of 2016. And the developer believes work on more ambitious phases of the development — including a marina to surpass the famed Atlantis facility in the Bahamas, and a second hotel of around 500 rooms — could also get underway within two years.
The clean-up started last fall and has really continued in earnest, Mr Christensen said.
The remediation was taken over by Governments procurement office who jumped on it to get it going because they were way behind time to get it moving. I think the new Government has kept that commitment because they recognise that Morgans Point is absolutely critical as a development to go forward to really spur the economic engine.
Mr Christensen, who owns the site with business partners Brian Duperreault and Nelson Hunt, said his company was now in discussions with numerous hotel operators to run the boutique hotel.
The first phase represents about ten percent of the development and we want to accelerate future phases so that we can proceed with other phases of the development as we complete phase one.
The development will feature a third hotel to accommodate crews from visiting yachts — including mega-yachts — berthed at a new marina.
The marina component is going to be critical for a new type of tourist, Mr Christensen said.
We have done extensive studies of marine traffic flow of the mega-yachts that emanate out of the Caribbean during the spring and summer and move by Bermuda — but Bermuda is not recognised as a destination. We can make it become a recognised destination.
The plans we have for the new marina are absolutely stunning — far better than Atlantis in Nassau. We will release these plans in due course but thats where were heading. Atlantis is really good but this is going to be far better, both in terms of scale and as a safe harbour. We have had preliminary discussions and we would like to have that in place within five years.
Mr Christensen said that he was confident Bermuda could have a thriving tourism industry in the future, because its problems were easily fixable.
He argued that Bermudas natural resources, such as its coastline, rivalled jurisdictions in the Caribbean, while the Island was also much cleaner and safer than many competitors.
He added that those resources were not always fully utilised, and tourism chiefs needed to do more to sell the Islands outstanding attributes and make both developers and visitors feel more welcome.
But he praised the new Government for turning red tape into red carpet.
We were really pleased to see [Tourism Minister] Shawn Crockwell attend a conference in Miami last month where he got to see first-hand what weve been seeing for five years or so. He gets it now — he gets that were not on the radar, Mr Christensen said, adding that there was a difference in the air since December.
What Bermuda has lacked is a vision. What are we? Bermuda hasnt said what it wants to be and thats where we need to start. I think it should be the playground for the northeast US, for a younger crowd, which means we need to be more vibrant and more family-orientated.
What needs to happen is we need to start using Bermudas assets appropriately. Furthermore, we just dont promote ourselves well, but all of these fixes are really quite small in comparison to other destinations where you have to change the whole social fabric.
For example, we forget that Bermuda is actually very safe. Its an easy place to live, and you can walk down Front Street at night or go to Dockyard or St Georges. Its not a compound or a gated community. But we need to get that message out there.
With Morgans Point, we now have the product mix and a Government that is a lot more committed to the development and tourism, so were confident that this is not just another a false dawn or another platinum period. For the first time we have a product that is realistic. It can actually happen because it addresses everything that hasnt been addressed before.
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