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Days of the cottage colony are not over

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The Ledgelets in Sandys has been hosting visitors since 1948 (Photograph supplied)

Micro resorts have a vital role to play in the island’s tourism, which is why they need more support, says one Sandys hotelier.

“Bermuda has mostly only two options for travellers — high-end hotels for $1,200 a night and cruise ships for $1,200 a week,” said Alison Young who runs the Ledgelets, a colony of seven holiday cottages in Sandys. “There is so much room to explore in between, and the demand is definitely there. That is the gap we are trying to fill.”

However, she said, there are concessions extended to larger hotels that smaller properties do not receive.

The Youngs say Ledgelets Cottage Colony is a hybrid, not a traditional Airbnb, but technically a vacation rental that lists on many platforms (File photograph)

“Vacation rentals are not given any duty relief. All costs are on the owner,” she said. “That can present challenges for a small business to manage cashflow, especially in the off season, and especially with fluctuations in fuel and airfare.”

It might sound counter-intuitive to wish for more competition, but Ms Young said we have to work together to “get more heads into beds”.

“There is a thriving industry of properties like ours in other parts of the world that have helped to stabilise the middle section of their economy,” she said.

After spending a little less on accommodation, visitors can spend more time shopping and dining in local establishments

For the past eight years, she and her husband have been rebuilding the Ledgelets, a family operation that stretches back to the 1940s.

The business was started by John Young’s grandparents, John and Nelga Young, in November 1948. They opened the day King Charles was born.

After John and Nelga Young died, the family changed the cottages to residential units.

In 2016, Alison and the younger John Young took over and began extensively renovating them back into vacation units, adding two cottages.

Ms Young described the Ledgelets as a hybrid.

“We are technically a vacation rental that lists on many platforms,” she said. “We really are not the traditional Airbnb, in the sense where the platform’s listings were mostly rooms in people’s houses.”

She said some people have argued that the days of the cottage colony are over, but she and her husband are proving them wrong.

Between January and August, the Ledgelets website received about 60,000 hits a month, according to Google Analytics.

She was stunned when she first saw those numbers. They seemed high.

“I didn’t think they could possibly be accurate, until a consultant in the industry confirmed them,” she said.

To keep things buzzing, she has had to be particularly creative. During the pandemic she started making and selling Old Garden Rose healing oil, using the roses that were still on the property, planted by Mr Young’s grandmother Nelga.

“I read about the health benefits of the roses,” Ms Young said. “They are super hydrating. I use olive oil as a base, and I emulsify the rose petals in that.”

Her healing oil now sells at the Ledgelets gift shop, Cassine, on Reid Street in Hamilton and at Alexandra Mosher Jewellery Studio on Par-la-Ville Road in Hamilton.

“The retail side is a slow build-out for us,” Ms Young said. “When people visit, they want a Bermudian product.”

The Ledgelets was recently awarded the Best of Bermuda award for the first time.

“We were totally chuffed,” Ms Young said. “We were also surprised because we are small. We are not usually included with the big guys.”

Dancing under the stars at Ledgelets Cottage Colony (File photograph)

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Published October 10, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated October 11, 2023 at 8:08 am)

Days of the cottage colony are not over

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