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OBA demands answers on hotel stuck in limbo

Questions: Craig Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance spokesman on tourism (File photograph)

An Opposition MP demanded answers from the Government yesterday on the future of a major hotel.

Craig Cannonier, the shadow tourism minister, said the Government had a duty to reveal if the shuttered Elbow Beach hotel was on the market – and what action it had taken to make sure it reopened.

Mr Cannonier added: “It’s sad to see that Elbow Beach is still struggling to finds its way in the hospitality businesses.

“I would have thought this government would have some answers as to where things stand currently and of course what is the plan going forward.

“If they don’t know then that is equally disappointing.

“If it’s to be sold, then government must ensure we have done all possible to encourage such.

“If investment into the property by the current owners is not the plan, then again, let’s ensure we do all we can to resolve this.

“This is an important part of Bermuda’s history – our government now needs to let us know where things stand.“

Mr Cannonier was speaking after a report in The Royal Gazette last Friday highlighted that the future of the resort was in doubt after revelations that the owners had tried to sell the property.

The hotel, owned by Saudi Arabian Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdullaziz Al Saud, closed in March last year in the wake of the first reported cases of Covid-19 on the island.

It had planned to reopen last September, but the hotel is still shuttered and staff are laid off.

The hotel’s website said Elbow Beach would not take bookings until at least the start of next year.

A representative said the prince was “evaluating various options for the hotel”.

Mr Cannonier praised restaurant chain MEF for keeping several restaurants in the hotel’s grounds open during the hotel’s extended closure.

He said: “We need to thank the MEF group for their continued support to Bermuda and Bermudians.

“Additionally we need to thank them for stepping up and involving themselves in the future of one of Bermuda’s iconic hotels.

Charles Jeffers II, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said he sympathised with the hotel’s decision to remain closed.

He added: “Elbow Beach is an iconic property whose inventory will be needed as we prepare for Bermuda’s tourism recovery.

“In this moment, however, as we grapple with the pandemic-induced decline in travellers, visitor demand has not yet outpaced room supply.

“A key part of my role at the BTA includes maintaining relationships with all our hoteliers including the team at Elbow Beach."

Visitor numbers plummeted because of the pandemic but some hotels that have reopened have had full occupancy rates.

The Bermuda Hotel Association said some resorts had thrived in the past year – in part because competitors had remained closed.

David Burt, the Premier and tourism minister, was asked last week if the Government was concerned about Elbow’s Beach’s future.

Mr Burt did not respond, but a government spokeswoman said: “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.”

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Published October 25, 2021 at 12:08 pm (Updated October 25, 2021 at 12:08 pm)

OBA demands answers on hotel stuck in limbo

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