Tucker’s Point boss hits out at critics
Tucker's Point president Ed Trippe has accused campaigners of having “one-track minds” as they “turn a blind eye” to the benefits of the hotel's expansion plans.
The hotel boss has hit out at protestors, including green group BEST and anti-racism group CURB, by calling them “a small minority making a lot of noise over misinformation”.
Mr Trippe is angry that campaigners have refused to accept the Rosewood Tucker's Point special development order (SDO) as the “only solution” to secure Bermuda's suffering tourism industry.
He believes protestors think he is “trying to squeeze every last profit” from the hotel, when he says he is in fact trying to save the property, jobs and boost tourism.
Senators will tomorrow debate the SDO for 78 homes and 70 hotel rooms, which is expected to stave off insolvency at the hotel which is losing more than $1 million a month.
But campaigners say it would destroy important wildlife habitats and it has also upset descendants of families forcibly removed from Tucker's Town in the 1920s.
Mr Trippe said he had expected some people to voice concerns but had never imagined there to be “so much and so well organised opposition”.
He said: “There's been a very vocal protest that has been organised by some very smart people at a grassroots level.
“They are passionate and upset about it, but they just don't have all the facts right. Their objective is to stop the SDO going forward, but they can only see their own point of view.
“It's also a very small minority. The people who haven't been coming out are the majority.”
Mr Trippe said he had discussed the plans at great length with representatives from BEST, CURB and historical groups and fully understood their concerns.
He said: “But you have a conversation with them and it's as if they are blind to the implications to Bermuda. They are not economists, they are environmentalists and they don't understand.
“It's as if they want us to fail as they are just not listening to the other side; the jobs, the economy and the re-investment of tourism. Once you look at those economic implications most people come around and see it's a good idea.
“These people are basing their arguments on misinformation. It's not in our interests to destroy the environment. I care about the land, but I also care about saving the property, jobs and industry.”
Mr Trippe said he had taken the criticism personally and felt people had “repeatedly misunderstood” him. He described the last month or so as “very stressful” as the controversy surrounding the SDO “just hadn't gone away”.
He said what bothered him most was the “large amount of misinformation out there”. He stressed that they still had “a long way to go” with environmental impact studies and residents could object to the planning application.
Mr Trippe said they would be building on less than an acre of land and would donate over 28 acres to the people of Bermuda, including Mangrove Lake and Harrington Sound Park.
He said: “Saying we are going to fill the caves with cement is blatantly untrue. We are in the very early stages and the wrong information is being put out there. We will be re-foresting more green space than taking it away, we are going to provide a lot more endemic growth. We are also giving a very significant part of our land to government, it's a significant contribution of green space.”
Mr Trippe said he had hoped the SDO would have been passed “weeks ago” as he was now receiving phone calls from concerned owners of the hotel's fractional units who were threatening to “sell up and go elsewhere”.
He said: “We've got to get beyond this rhetoric and uncertainty the SDO has created.
“We have to put this behind us and move forward. The last thing we want is for these concerns to reach the travel market, we cannot allow these SDO concerns to go global.”
Mr Trippe said it would be “business as usual” at the hotel tomorrow and he had no plans to head to the Senate, where campaigners are planning a ‘quiet' protest outside.
He said: “Wednesday can't come quick enough, it will all be over one way or another.”
Mr Trippe plans to take his grandchildren skiing to Vail in Colorado on Thursday, which he says will either be “a celebratory or commiseration trip”.
When asked what would happen to Tucker's Point if the SDO wasn't granted, Mr Trippe simply said: “I don't know, I just don't know.”
Mr Trippe said there was “no question about it” that the expansion plans would be a success as they had been vetted by independent advisors and investment bankers in the UK and America. He said: “This is the solution, we are convinced we are on the right track, we can turn this hotel around. The hotel can be sustained and be profitable.”
Tucker's Point opened in 2009 to “delays and big losses” in the midst of the recession. Mr Trippe said he knew times were hard, but admitted they were blindsided to the depth and severity of the recession.
He said the hotel was now “begging to make good money” and the SDO was the way to make Bermuda a world class tourism destination.
Rosewood Hotels and Resorts are said to be “very anxious” to start marketing Tucker's Point across the world, including prominent adverts in the world's biggest daily papers.
Mr Trippe said: “The only question here is does Bermuda want to be a world-class tourism destination or does it want to continue to slip?”