Question mark over future of 118-year-old Elbow Beach Hotel
The future of the Elbow Beach resort is in question after reports that the owners have tried to sell the hotel.
The Paget property shut up shop in early 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic and was expected to re-open at the start of this year.
But the hotel has remained closed – and is not taking reservations for the rest of 2021. All staff were made redundant last year.
The Royal Gazette has spoken to three sources close to the facility who confirmed that the owner – Saudi Arabian Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdullaziz Al Saud – put the property on the market in 2019, but failed to get any suitable offers.
The sources also that there are no plans to re-open the property in the future because operational costs would outstrip revenue.
A message on the resort’s website said: “Dear Guest. Due to the pandemic, Elbow Beach Resort is closed. Please check our website for availability and rates as we continue to monitor conditions.
“We will re-open only when it is completely safe for everyone. We will be closing the booking engine through 2021 for now. We look forward to welcoming you back to Bermuda!”
A voicemail message at the hotel’s booking office said: “We are currently closed and no date has been set for reopening.”
An on-island representative of the owner was asked about the state of play at Elbow Beach and was e-mailed questions about the resort.
She was asked if the owner would discuss speculation that he was no longer interested in the hotel and wanted to sell.
The representative was also asked if the hotel was running at a loss before the Covid-19 pandemic and for an update on the condition of the hotel’s main building, said to be in poor condition, and what the long-term plan for the site was.
She said that the owner was “evaluating various options”.
The representative added: “We, as well as other hotel operators on-island, have struggled during these difficult times spurred by the global pandemic.
“At the present time the owner is evaluating various options for the hotel, which will largely depend on the resumption of tourism on-island to pre-Covid levels.”
David Burt, the Premier and tourism minister, was asked if he was aware of plans for the resort and if the owners had approached the Government about the possibility of a public/private partnership.
A Government spokeswoman said: “The Government can confirm that there has been no approach from the owners of the property related to any form of partnership."
She added: "The Elbow Beach Hotel is privately owned and has the potential to form an important part of Bermuda's tourism product.
“Working with important stakeholders like the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Bermuda Hotel Association, the Government of Bermuda is always keen to drive positive tourism outcomes which support growth in the sector.”
The high-end resort has come under fire from would-be guests who have been unable to make a reservation.
Recent reviews on travel website TripAdvisor complained it was impossible to speak to anyone at the hotel.
One reviewer said last month: “We love this hotel, we were going to stay this year but they never opened or answered any of my calls or e-mails.
“We would like to start planning next year and if Elbow isn't open we will go elsewhere.
“This is not good for Bermuda while tourism is down.”
Another potential guest wrote: “Trip was cancelled due to Covid in 2020. I had an $850 deposit to be refunded as it was cancelled well in advance of my September 2020 arrival – cancelled in April 2020.”
A third said: “Like a couple of other reviewers, we ran into this property failing to refund the room deposit or respond to inquiries by e-mail or phone about it while closed for Covid, even after we cancelled months in advance of our planned stay.
“Calling the property, staff said they could only take new reservations, but not address refunds.
“We would love to re-plan the same kind of trip for after Covid, but don't see how we could do business with this property.”
The review added: “I was able to get a refund only after initiating a credit card dispute and waiting quite a long time.”
The reviewer told readers of the influential website: “If you still want to book here, don't do it with any deposit.
“I have tried to contact the hotel numerous times (still trying). They have yet to respond.”
Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdullaziz Al Saud bought the hotel in 1991 from the family of John Moores, who took over the site in 1947.