Hotel owner’s dream comes true in Bermuda
Until six years ago, Bermuda wasn’t on Phil Hospod’s radar as a place to visit, or invest in.
But in 2015 his journalist wife was assigned to cover the Bermuda Triangle Challenge running races for a US publication, and the Montreal native was willing to “come along for the ride”.
That week-long visit ignited a dream in the hotelier’s mind – to own and operate a resort on the island.
Last month that dream became a reality. Mr Hospod’s New York-based company, Dovetail, is the new owner of the prestigious Cambridge Beaches resort in Sandys.
“I’d never been to Bermuda and never really considered it a destination,” Mr Hospod, who grew up in Argentina, Malaysia and the Middle East, said.
“But we flew in from New York city, and as you come in you see the blue water, and that was incredible.
“It was perfect weather – low 70s, no humidity, plenty of sun – so on that first ride we right away saw the water and the beaches, and just fell in love with the natural beauty of Bermuda.
“But I think what was more remarkable was, in that week, we got to experience a Bermudian event. We ran up and down Front Street, around the Bird Cage, people were cheering us on. There was really this sense of joy and excitement around the event, and we just left the week falling in love with Bermuda.
“And that was really the start of the dream and the ambition – wouldn’t it be fun and interesting to run a resort in Bermuda? It really seemed like an opportunity – to create something different from what all the other hotels are offering.”
Dovetail owns several properties on the US East Coast. But it was always Mr Hospod’s ambition to run a resort overseas.
After that first visit to Bermuda, the 39-year-old began exploring the possibility of running a resort on the island.
And three years later, he learnt that Cambridge Beaches was on the market – and realised that it was “the perfect fit”.
He said: “Cambridge came on the radar in the summer of 2019.
“At that point there was just an idea that the owners may be ready to move on – it had been in the same family for three generations.
“It’s a special property, but it needed some new capital and some new energy – and that’s what started the conversation.
“And so we saw what the opportunity was and toured it, we knew that this was a perfect fit for what excites us about resort destinations and opportunities that we could create a lot of impact in.”
Mr Hospod’s colleagues were initially sceptical, but were soon won over after a visit to the island.
“The vast majority of them – it's the first time that they coming to Bermuda, and the impressions are all the same. They’re like ʽthis is incredible, this is only 90 minutes from New York. Why is no one talking about this?’”
The coronavirus pandemic put negotiations on hold in the short-term, but Mr Hospod never lost his faith in the long-term future of the island as a high-end destination.
And he applauded Government’s efforts to keep the island safe while at the same time ensuring that it was open for business.
He said: “ The Government has clearly been doing an incredible job guiding us through this process and it has not been an easy task at all.
“I have a great deal of respect for Bermuda and its leadership and this pandemic has increased my opinion of everyone involved.
“It took us a little bit of time to work through what the ramifications of Covid would be for Bermuda as a destination and for Cambridge Beaches as a resort.
“But we were pretty focused on wanting to own here and so felt that, long-term, tourism will come back.
“Bermuda was already on a really positive trajectory, there was a lot of really strong momentum in a lot of the initiatives that the Bermuda Tourism Authority had put forward.
“So there was a lot of positive momentum leading up to 2019. A lot of wind was taken out of the sails this past year but I think, long term, those things will come back and we want to contribute to that momentum.
“I think Bermuda is incredibly special and I think Cambridge Beaches is a remarkable representation of what is special about Bermuda.
“It’s genuine, it’s raw, it’s rugged – it’s those moments connected to nature when you can step outside your cottage and walk into the bay. You can see sunrise and sunset from the same house. It’s a remarkable experience that you can’t do anywhere else.
Dovetail will plough millions of dollars into the resort in the next few years, upgrading dated guest rooms and making the venue more family-friendly. Mr Hospod, who has a young daughter, is keen to open up the resort to families and their children.
“That’s what I want to share with the guests who have been coming back here 100-plus times but also new travellers so they can discover Bermuda for the first time.
“I truly believe that Bermuda is a remarkable destination with a dynamic culture and we are excited to contribute to this special place through our stewardship of Cambridge Beaches.”