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Ground broken on Azura hotel project

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Luxury accommodation: an artist's impression of the Azura Boutique Hotel and Residences. The groundbreaking for the project took place today (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ground was officially broken this afternoon on the Azura Boutique Hotel and Residences at the former site of the Surf Side Beach Club.

Addressing the media and invited guests, John Bush, of the Clearwater Development Group, said he believed the project, which will allow local and international buyers to purchase units and rent them out in whole or in part through the Azura hotel management company, will be a sustainable success.

“Our desire is to create something that is exciting to our visitors, but is also a sustainable hotel property, and we believe the business model we have here will make it very successful,” he said.

“I am, and my colleagues are, passionate about Bermuda. We believe in it. We love it.

“Tourism wants to work, tourism will work and I can tell you tourism will work on this site.”

The resort will initially include 18 hotel residences with up to 46 hotel rooms, some of which he said have already been purchased despite only coming onto the market days ago.

The first phase of the project will also include a spa and a poolside restaurant, while planning approval has already been granted for a second phase of development, bringing the number of potential hotel keys to 69.

A statement by Clearwater Development Ltd explained: “One major benefit of purchasing in this development is that the hotel concessions that have been granted allow owners participating in the hotel programme to receive the very attractive purchase pricing, have land tax waived for five years, and enjoy duty free pricing on furniture, fixtures and fittings. And for overseas buyers, the property license fee is waived.

“The first order of business for the development team is under way and includes landscape and common area enhancements, expansion and improvements to the pool and restaurant area, and major restoration and reinforcement of the cliffs and beach area, including renovations to the sea walls and construction of elevated and protected beach areas. This initial scope of work will be completed over the next three to four months.”

Many of the existing buildings on the site are set to be retained and “thoroughly renovated”, but three small buildings are set to be demolished and replaced by a new three-bedroom villa.

An additional two story building, containing five 3-bedroom villas, is also planned, featuring vegetated “green” roofs to increase green space for guests.

Mr Bush added that the development team behind the project was entirely Bermudian, along with the lender and 80 per cent of investors.

“This is a locally done project, and we are excited about it,” he said.

Michael Dunkley, the Premier, said he was gratified in not just the faith the developers have placed in the island, but what the project will mean for Bermudians.

“What really gives me grounds to be confident here is that this is about opportunity for Bermudians,” he said. “Bermudians providing the vision and Bermudians to rally around and create that opportunity to move forward.

“We know we have faced some tough times in the past, but we are making progress. Again today we are rising together, we are growing strong together. You can take it to the bank that this government will support Bermudians who want to rise with us together, and make our paradise home everything we want it to be.”

Michael Fahy, Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, noted the impressive views over the south shore, saying it was easy to understand why Mr Bush would have faith in the potential of the site.

“It goes to show that with a bit of vision and a bit of confidence in the tourism market, that real tangible things can be done in Bermuda in the rebirth of tourism,” he said.

He praised the work of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and its investment team in building confidence in the local tourism industry, along with Mr Bush for his confidence in the project.

Azura Boutique Hotel and Residences, Groundbreaking. Pictured Center- Premier Michael Dunkley, John Bush from Clearwater Development and Minister Michael Fahy (Photograph by Akil Simmons)