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St Regis seeks retroactive approval for building changes

Work continues on the 120-room St. Regis Hotel, as the hotel is set to open on May 22, 2021. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The developers behind the St Regis hotel project have asked for retroactive approval for several changes to the hotel's design weeks before it is set to open.

An application, submitted to the Development Applications Board this week on behalf of developer Hotelco, noted a range of changes from previously approved designs.

A cover letter from design firm OBMI Ltd, said: “From the outset this hotel project was programmed to be a very fast project with tight timelines.

“Several hurricanes and the year of Covid-19 stops and starts have not helped advance the schedule, however Hotelco is committed to open the Regis on May 22 as promised to their many supporters, guests, clients and funders.

“The importance of opening this hotel on time cannot be underestimated for impact of the many employees, outside vendors, St George’s and Bermuda tourism industry as a whole.”

The letter said that in the “deliberate speed” to reach the deadline, actions were taken to improve the project from what had been approved by the Department of Planning.

It added: “Regrettably the paperwork and approvals required for the modifications presented below did not keep up with the fieldwork. Hence our presentations today.”

The application conceded that one of the changes – a repositioning of the “back of house” driveway linking the property to Barry Road – cannot be approved by the DAB at this time and would be refused.

The letter said: “Hotelco’s following action would be to appeal to the Minister for his adjudication and assent.

"If this is the course at hand, we respectfully request the DAB waive the requirement to advertise this Retroactive Works and Proposed New Car Parking Area.

“The advertising period will use up two weeks of valuable time waiting for a public response for an action the board is unable to execute.”

The application noted that the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Services and the Department of Health had both toured the site and were satisfied that it was ready for operation, but without approvals the developer would not be able to secure its Hotel Operating Licence, Elevator Licence or Liquor Licence.

The application added: “As we are within 26 days of opening, every day is precious.”

The planning document said the movement of the back of house access road was intended to allow a separate casino entrance and mitigate the slope between Barry Road and the service yard.

The separate casino entrance will also improve pedestrian access to the casino and prevent the movements of workers and guests from interfering with one another.

One of the other design changes is the moving of some of the approved parking spaces to an overflow parking area at the top of Retreat Hill.

The application said the change was made because of the need for golf cart parking near the entrance of the hotel and the golf course’s 18th hole.

The application said: “The golf cart parking area was relocated from area adjacent to the kid’s club area, the activity of which would create a negative guest experience at ground level, and for the rooms above.

“The new location allows for the golf users to terminate their play by the parking area and removes requirement to enter the main hotel building.”

The application said the overflow area, adjacent to Fort Albert, was already flat and would provide 28 car spaces and 74 bike spaces.

The overflow parking area will all be publicly available and be completed late this summer or early fall.

The application said there would “likely” be a shuttle link between the hotel entrance and the overflow parking area, and if there is a large event at the hotel the golf carts can be moved to expand visitor parking.

The application also includes a variety of smaller tweaks and changes to the approved plans.

A planned pool bar has been consolidated with the restaurant and bar area of the hotel, with the area earmarked for the pool bar converted into a retail store and hotel suite.

The entrance from one of the buildings has had its “Bermuda style” roof replaced by a flat roof to prevent it obscuring the view from guest rooms.

Several windows have been removed to provide consistency with the hotel suites, and a water pump and reflection pool has been added to the hotel’s spa area.

A retaining wall on the property has also been extended to increase hurricane protection for the beach and protect against storm surge “after seeing potential effect from previous hurricanes on the island”.

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Published April 29, 2021 at 8:12 am (Updated April 29, 2021 at 8:12 am)

St Regis seeks retroactive approval for building changes

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