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Talks continue to get Fairmont Southampton revamp back on track

The Fairmont Southampton (File photograph)

The owners of the island’s biggest hotel were this week locked in talks with the Government in a bid to get the Fairmont Southampton up and running again.

David Burt, the Premier, told news site TNN that getting financing in place for a major renovation of the hotel and a reopened resort were “vital” to the interests of the island.

He said the Fairmont Southampton’s importance in jump-starting tourism and getting airlift back “cannot be overstated”.

Mr Burt added: “It’s vitally, vitally important – it’s the largest hotel property in the country, and airlift is driven by hotel capacity and hotel demand”.

Mr Burt said he had spent “a significant amount of time” over the Christmas holidays in California working with Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, on plans to rescue the hotel redevelopment.

The Fairmont Southampton shut down in 2020 after the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered tourism to Bermuda.

The closure, which Mr Burt said was the “biggest challenge” for Bermuda also involved the loss of more than 700 jobs.

The property’s owners, US based firm Gencom, had ambitious plans for an 18-month renovation of the hotel.

Mr Dickinson revealed at the beginning of November that “prospective capital providers” had met Gencom as well as the Government and had drawn up a proposal for investment in the project.

Mr Burt said yesterday that “numerous meetings” had been held since then.

He added that securing the revamp and reopening of the Fairmont Southampton would mark “the largest injection of tourism capital in the country’s history”.

Mr Burt said that the island had lost airlift, with JetBlue moving the island from year-round service to a summer-only destination.

He added the loss of flights was “a direct result of the lack of availability of beds at the Fairmont Southampton”.

Mr Burt said that the island would see an improvement in hotel capacity this year with the opening of the Bermudiana Beach Resort in Warwick at what was the Grand Atlantic housing development.

He added the Government was still optimistic that the Fairmont Southampton would reopen next year.

Projections for the Government’s Budget next month and the revival of tourism to pre-pandemic levels are pinned on a 2023 reopening.

Mr Burt had no comment on the Elbow Beach Hotel in Paget after reports surfaced last October that its owners planned to sell the resort.

He said: “Our focus is on the Fairmont Southampton.

“Once we get the Fairmont Southampton done, then we can move on to other properties.”

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Published January 22, 2022 at 8:06 am (Updated January 22, 2022 at 8:06 am)

Talks continue to get Fairmont Southampton revamp back on track

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