Douglas hunts for new Ariel Sands developer
Hollywood actor Michael Douglas is on the hunt for a new developer for his Ariel Sands hotel project after New York-based Olympic Property Partners “left abruptly”.
Mr Douglas has been “taking the bull by the horns” in order to find a new partner as quickly as possible in the hope that at least one phase of the hotel will be complete in time for the America's Cup next summer.
Speaking to The Royal Gazette yesterday, Mr Douglas also urged the island to avoid being divisive and “show its best colours” as the eyes of the world focus on the sailing event.
Regarding the Ariel Sands proposal, he said his business partner Seth Weinstein left in early December, though the project will remain largely as it was when he left.
Mr Douglas said: “Seth left abruptly — I imagine he had a number of different ventures going on or had other issues. Since that time we have slightly adjusted the project. We have refined it into something much more like what Ariel Sands used to look like in its original form.
“There are not any major changes, it is just the issue of how much building there was on the site and the size of the main hotel building at the top of the property, which will be scaled down.”
Back in 2014 when ground was being broken, the project was billed to be an $85 million luxury resort consisting of 85 hotel keys located in 33 cottages and six suites.
A scaled-down version was presented to the Department of Planning in April 2015. They were for 26 villas rather than the 33 previously announced, with 20 rooms in the main hotel building. The villas will be a mix of two- and three-bedroom, self-contained apartments with facilities such as washer dryers, bathrooms for each bed, and kitchens.
An article that was published on www.worldguide.eu said: “When the new luxury beach resort officially opens, between next winter and spring, it will consist of 26 two- and three-bedroom cottages and 28 luxury suites...
“Michael Douglas and his wife will sell the cottages and suites to handpicked buyers, who will be able to rent out their properties to the public through the hotel management company.”
Plans also included a new arrival building and clubhouse, a fine dining restaurant, spa, salon and gym.
It is hoped that a new developer will be secured within a month at which stage, Mr Douglas said, “the project will move ahead expeditiously”.
“This is certainly not my day job, though it looks like it has become that way,” he laughs. “The history of building hotels in Bermuda is tough, but we feel very good about this.
“Our dates have obviously changed from what we had originally hoped in terms of it being completed in time for the America's Cup, but certainly a phase should be done by then.
“We are in discussions with a number of different people right now and because so many of our plans are in shape, once we finalise our partnership the project will move ahead expeditiously. We will know our ongoing partner within about a month — it looks imminent and we are excited.”
He said the Bermudian team he brought on board remains intact.
The team pulled together for the redevelopment stage includes Somers Management, responsible for co-ordinating the project, Onsite Engineering Services and Quarterly Architects, creating plans designed to have a low environmental impact.
Asked whether he still had confidence in Bermuda's economy going forward, Mr Douglas, whose mother was Bermudian, added: “I am not a close follower of Bermuda's economy but I love Bermuda — it is an integral part of my life. This project clearly goes beyond any financial investment rewards.
“Hopefully that will happen, but this is much more about my family's legacy and trying to give something back to Bermuda. I have always been very positive about the island.
“People got a taste of the rewards of the America's Cup last October with the Louis Vuitton [America's Cup] World Series. I spoke to a lot of my Bermudian friends and they couldn't remember any time in their lifetime that there was more celebration and joy in Bermuda.
“This is not a time to be divisive, this is a time for the island to unify and show its best colours.”