Hotelco upbeat over St George’s future
A new-look St George’s Club will reopen after renovations by early next year, the new owners pledged yesterday.
Hotelco Bermuda SGC, the firm behind the St Regis hotel development in the Olde Towne, confirmed today that it plans to buy the St George’s Club, which announced its closure last Friday.
Laura Purroy, the general manager of Hotelco, said that the company “has the intention to acquire the property known as St George’s Club, once the leases have been assigned”.
She added: “Current obligations towards timeshare members, creditors and vendors will be honoured.”
Ms Purroy added this morning that in order to honour contracts from the previous management of the property a section of the club will be used to host timeshare members during the renovation period.
She said: “Our plans are to renovate and redevelop this much beloved property in the same spirit as we are developing the neighbouring St Regis Bermuda Resort — one that celebrates the town of St George and its culture and history.
“The progress made at the St Regis Bermuda Resort development has been significant and the continued support of the East End community and Government has proved to be equally significant.
“We are excited about the opening and reopening of both hotels in April 2021.”
Ms Purroy added that she was optimistic about the future of St George’s and the East End.
She said: “The intended acquisition of the St George’s Club — and our plans to redevelop it — signifies our confidence and our conviction that St George’s has begun to re-emerge as a tourist destination and a favourite for Bermudians alike.
“We’ve already seen the interest of local businesses, restaurants and residents in investing in their products and property.
“Like them, we aim to invest in the future of St George’s and in doing so create more opportunities for Bermudians and more attractions for our visitors who choose Bermuda as their destination of choice.”
Belcario Thomas, a businessman and co-chairman of the East End division of the Chamber of Commerce, said the announcement that Hotelco would “double down” on the East End was good news.
Mr Thomas said: “We continue to welcome and feel encouraged by the inward investment in the area.
“This can only create greater investment confidence in St George’s — why wouldn’t there be investor confidence in the area that has hundreds of millions of investments within a five-mile radius with the airport redevelopment, the St Regis Hotel project and now the St George’s Club?”
Mr Thomas added that renovations at the club would also create work for tradespeople.
Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said: “With Hotelco well on their way to completing construction of the St Regis Bermuda Resort in April 2021, this new investment is a testament to the organisation’s commitment to, and the value of investing in, Bermuda.
“I look forward to the opening and reopening of both hotels and the continued renaissance of our tourism industry.”
George Dowling, the Mayor of St George, said the closure of the club was unfortunate and that he hoped the affected staff would be “treated with the highest regard and pray their employment needs are met on an urgent basis”.
He added: “I am, however, delighted that the opportunity has presented itself for Hotelco to take over the property and breathe new life and new vision into the St George’s Club buildings and grounds once the leases have been completed.”
Up to 25 staff members were made redundant last week when the club announced it would hand back its lease to the Bermuda Government.
Sally-Anne Kyle, the president and CEO of the St George’s Club, blamed the closure on the closure of the St George’s golf course, increased costs, the recession and people who had defaulted on their timeshare contracts.
She added that the club had moved from a timeshare model to a traditional hotel model, with more than half of its business coming from hotel guests.
One member wrote online after the closure was announced that she had already booked a stay for this year.
She said: “This may come out to be untrue, but I just called the club and our reservations are still good for 2020.
“I haven’t heard from the hotel group yet and I don’t know what conditions we may arrive to on our week.”
The woman added that she had only heard about the closure after the public announcement.
Former members who quit the club questioned how the closure could affect them.
Bill Coyle said he walked away from the club with ten years still on his contract.
He added: “The Kyles sold our and many others’ debt to Monterrey Collection Agency.
“We refused to pay what many of us felt was an illegal ‘special assessment’ and obscenely high maintenance fee — an increase of 32 per cent.
“The question is whether the debt will go away.”
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