Tourism leaders welcome Ariel Sands plans
Tourism industry leaders yesterday welcomed the increase in visitor beds that are expected to come with the revival of a disused resort.
David Burt, the Premier, added that the planned redevelopment of Ariel Sands in Devonshire was “excellent news”.
He said: “In the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to meet the developers who shared their plans and I was pleased to signal to them the support of the Government of Bermuda.
“This is a strong vote of confidence in our tourism marketability and this level of investor confidence demonstrates that Bermuda remains a viable tourism product.
“The island’s economic recovery will be strengthened by the renewal of our tourism economy.
“Our efforts are now trained on working with the developers to realise their plans for the site and ensuring that Bermudians are provided with firm opportunities for employment and career development in the various phases of this development.”
Mr Burt, who has ministerial responsibility for tourism, was speaking after The Royal Gazette revealed that Michael Douglas, a Hollywood star and owner of Ariel Sands, has teamed up with Slovakian real estate developer JTRE to redevelop the 13.8 acre south shore site into a five-star resort.
A spokesman said that the property would be managed by an “internationally recognised operator, offering branded condominiums and luxury villas” as well as “a multitude of desirable amenities”.
Stephen Todd, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said: “It’s especially heartening to eventually welcome a new property to the island and also an increase in our overall hotel room inventory, which is much needed at this juncture.”
He added: “It’s really great news to know that we’ve got a developer that’s looking at that site and hopefully we will see it come to fruition in the next couple of years.”
Mr Todd welcomed the input from overseas.
He said: “It clearly states, in our mind, that Bermuda is seen as a very desirable destination.
“To see an international brand developer looking at Bermuda in this way speaks to our reputation and our ability to be a destination of choice going forward, so we are extremely pleased that this announcement has been made at this time.”
Charles Jeffers II, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, added: “I’m excited by the news.
“The development plans for Ariel Sands will add much needed beds to Bermuda’s hotel inventory.
“This helps to build the island’s capacity which is a key driver for increased airlift.
“What’s more, the plans indicate the property room count will increase fourfold to 139 with a projected opening in 2024.
“These incremental gains are encouraging as we build out our multiyear recovery strategy."
Craig Cannonier, the Shadow Minister of Tourism, said the update about Ariel Sands was “great news”.
He added: “It’s good to know that Mr Douglas and wife Catherine have stood by Bermuda for over a decade now to finally see Ariel Sands receive the recognition it deserves through much needed investment.”
The One Bermuda Alliance MP added: “For years I’ve been stressing the need for direct investment and this news should be encouraging to Bermudians and those who are considering us as an investment opportunity.
“We thank JTRE for choosing Bermuda and thank you to all those not named for making this possible.”
Ariel Sands hotel and cottage colony closed in January 2008 and the site was later cleared in anticipation of redevelopment.
Despite several plans for the location over the past ten years, including interest from the Hilton hotel group, none got off the ground.
Mr Douglas, 77, is the son of the late Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas and Bermudian actress Diana Dill, who died in 2015.
The Dill family's history in Bermuda dates back to 1630.
The family owned the Ariel Sands property in the 1840s and it opened as a resort in 1954.