Don’t believe all of the hype
Amidst the barrage of rhetoric and sensationalism, I hope to shed a refreshing perspective on the Tucker's Point SDO. I understand an SDO should only be granted where national interests require it. It is my firm belief that Bermuda needs this SDO.
This Island has only its services to depend on. We have zero production. We have to attract external investment in order to survive. The investors are there and they're watching us. By showing them that we welcome their investment, we will save Bermudian jobs. If we hesitate, we won't hurt or punish HSBC. We will most certainly hurt or punish hundreds of Bermudians immediately and the generations to come will see the gradual downfall of Bermuda's tourism industry.
Many commentators in opposition to the SDO question why we should save Tucker's Point, HSBC or Ed Trippe and let Tucker's Point go into receivership. The receivership scenario is not sustainable and jobs will be lost. Receivers are accountants without expertise in operating the companies they manage. They are experts in slashing expenses. Rosewood offers global brand recognition and operations talent of which no receiver could ever dream.
As I walk around Tucker's Point and look at the land to be developed in the SDO, I see many more Chinese Palms and Casuarinas than I do endemics. Any Bermudian worth their weight in gold would tell you that Chinese Palms, Fiddlewoods and Casuarinas are not worth fighting for. They certainly aren't worth more than 200 Bermudians' jobs. The development of Tucker's Point until now has been extremely conscious of protecting the environment. I would venture to say that we will see much more endemics than exist now as a result of the SDO.
It is almost un-Bermudian when some of the opposition to the SDO has the audacity to suggest that we follow the Bahamas and lower our prices to fill more hotel rooms. Bermuda is tiny and alone in the middle of the Atlantic, does it really make much sense to lower our room rates when the air fares will still be high? The cost of living in Bermuda is too high anyway. Who would you find to work in this hotel? The quality of the service will drop, when we should be raising the quality.
There are people out there who have the money to pay our prices. They are coming to Tucker's Point Hotel right now. We will be sold out for three days in April and in June and July we will be demanding room rates starting in the $700s with average occupancies well over 90 percent. With the support of a luxury hotel company such as Rosewood, we have access to thousands of people in our target market who are willing to pay for the luxury experience. With the facilities at Tucker's Point and the assistance of Rosewood, we could easily become a truly successful five-star hotel in two to three years. Without the SDO there will be no Rosewood and we can forget any of the other significant players such as Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton or Starwood Hotels coming to Bermuda.
Please don't believe all of the hype and hear the voice of true Bermudians who are depending on your vote for our future. Like those before us we have the opportunity to define our tourism product for decades to come and lead the pack. Let's not be followers. We have always been leaders. Let's make Bermuda a truly five-star product and something that our neighbours wish they could be.”
Paul Telford studied International Hotel Management at the University of Buckingham in England, worked at the Four Seasons in Washington, D.C. and Punta Mita, Mexico from 2000 to 2006 and is currently the Rooms and Spa Director at Tucker's Point Hotel & Spa.