Regional hotel investment summit ‘timely’
Bermuda's potential for more hotel and hospitality development will be to the fore today when the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit gets under way at the Hamilton Princess.
An expected 300 delegates, including CEOs of hotel companies and decision-makers from funds, banks and lenders, will network and hear about investment opportunities and market trends.
For Bermuda, it is an opportunity to showcase its hotels and potential sites for additional ventures.
During the two-day event some delegates will be taken on a tour of potential development sites, including places where existing infrastructure can be converted or repurposed, such as Grand Atlantic on South Road, Warwick, and 9 Beaches in Sandys.
The summit is now in its seventh year, and Parris Jordan, chairman of Chicos, said the forum is a place where deals get done.
He acknowledged it has been a challenging year for the hotel industry in the wider Caribbean region due to the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“It was a one-two punch that affected the entire region. We will be focusing on and explaining the impact of those hurricanes and what we believe is going to happen going forward,” he said.
One of the key messages the summit will send out is that the Caribbean is open for business.
“About 75 per cent of the region was unaffected by these storms. A lot of people were not aware of that, and it has impacted our numbers,” he said.
“We are telling visitors and investors that most of the islands were unaffected and are open for business.”
Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the arrival of the summit in Bermuda was timely, given the new hotel projects currently under way on the island, and back-to-back years of improved data from the hotel sector with hotel occupancy and average daily rates both up.
He said: “Bermuda has a fantastic story to tell to the world and investors. We are now well into a second year of strong recovery for the hotel industry.”
And he said Bermuda was now into investment territory, with the passing of the Tourism Investment Act that clarifies incentives available to investors in Bermuda.
Mr Dallas explained that while incentives were previously done on an ad hoc basis, there are now clear propositions that have benefits for investors and for Bermudians.
Of the three hotel projects under way on the island, the Azura, a boutique property being created at the former Surf Side, in Warwick, is expected to open next year with 40 rooms.
In 2020, it is expected that the Ritz-Carlton Reserve at Caroline Bay, and the St Regis in St George's will also be completed, adding a combined 200 rooms to the island's hotel room inventory.
These fresh developments are part of the reason why it was decided to host Chicos in Bermuda this year. Mr Jordan said: “We like to go to destinations where there are a lot of investment opportunities. We also chose Bermuda for the natural beauty of the island and its accessibility.”
Referring to the island's hotels, he added: “Bermuda is one of the few island destinations that has the ability to go after every luxury brand.”
The summit will feature a hospitality leaders outlook, a conversation with Airbnb and Expedia representatives, a panel titled “The magic formula for getting projects completed on time and on budget in the Caribbean,” and a Bermuda investment spotlight panel.