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Work on Fairmont Southampton ‘not cosmetic, it’s a complete gut-out’

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An artist's impression of how the Fairmont Southampton Beach Club will look (Photograph supplied)

About $150,000 is to be spent on each of the 593 guest rooms as part of a “gut-out” at Bermuda’s largest hotel, the head of the company behind the development said.

Karim Alibhai, the founder and principal of Gencom, which owns the Fairmont Southampton through its subsidiary, Westend Properties, added that a revamped beach club is expected to attract visitors from the US for long weekends.

He said: “Given the amount of spend, this is not cosmetic, it’s a complete gut-out.

“Given the age of the building, there has been asbestos from the old days … that needs to be completely cleaned out to be a project that’s ready for the new age.”

Where the money goes

Here is the breakdown of how Gencom says about $200 million will be spent on the Fairmont Southampton renovation:

$90m: Rooms

$30m: Public areas, including expanded meeting space

$25m to $28m: Beach club

$50m: Infrastructure

Mr Alibhai explained: “Roughly $90 million is going to go into the rooms, which are new bathrooms, new tile, new carpet or new floors depending on which levels you’re doing, all new furnishings, balconies get re-done and so forth.

“Basically, if you’re looking at about 600 rooms that’s $150,000 a room.”

He added: “The public areas would be close to $30 million … we’re expanding the meeting space, which is very important for a hotel of this size.”

Mr Alibhai said: “The beach area we think is one of the most amazing beaches in the world, it’s been voted that way, but I think … there was a fair bit of disrepair in the condition it was in.”

He explained that the South Shore spot will be used for large group events, including weddings, but it is also expected to attract “huge long-weekend traffic” from the US north-east corridor.

An artist’s impression of the soon-to-be-renovated Jasmine Lounge at the Fairmont Southampton (Photograph supplied)

Almost $25 to $28 million will be spent on the beach club and surrounding amenities, including an additional pool for the resort.

Mr Alibhai said: “A big cost here — is because, again, the age of the building — is what they call back of house and infrastructure — so new kitchens, new equipment; so much of that is so old that, again, you can’t just fix it with patches.”

He added that “close to $50 million” was expected to be spent on the behind-the-scenes works.

An artist’s impression of the soon-to-be-renovated Fairmont Southampton Beach Club (Photograph supplied)

It is hoped that renovations can begin this summer with a view to the property reopening by fall 2023.

Mr Alibhai said: “Ideally we would like to be started by between June and August at the latest.”

He added: “The project will take 14 to 17 months … as you’ve probably heard there has been so much disruption in supply chains around the world, not only with the pandemic that started and then obviously the recent war, so there’s always a little bit of risk of delay in getting your goods and supplies, which is why we have a little bit of a range in that.”

David Burt, the Premier, told the House of Assembly last month that an agreement was reached between the Government and Westend.

He added that the deal was set out in a heads of terms document, which was approved by Cabinet.

MPs heard that “legislative support” for the project would be sought when the House resumes.

Mr Alibhai said that, despite the coronavirus pandemic which hit in 2020, the company “forged ahead” with almost $15 million of pre-development spending, such as for architects, designers and plans.

He explained: “In a nutshell, $200 million is going into what I call the development renovation of the project — spending to improve everything there.

“Approximately, close to $100 million is what I would call the acquisition cost of buying the building, carrying it through the period of time while we get ready to redevelop and so forth.

“The balance is what they call costs of financing, paying the interest on loans, carrying the project after it opens for a few years because it’s going to generate losses for the first few years while it builds up its revenues.

“So all those components end up being close to $400 million in the total spend for the entire project — development, carry, opening and so forth.”

Mr Alibhai said that a population of more than 20 million potential visitors was just a short flight away from the island.

He added: “It was literally Bermuda had fallen out of sight, out of mind to a lot of those people when we did our polls.

“We said, wait a minute you have an amazing place here that’s got the kind of waters that people go to [at] other places in the Caribbean but you have really, what I call, first world existence, and manicured well, and now, with the airlift improving with the new airport, this definitely will attract people.”

Mr Burt told MPs in February that a designated site order for the Fairmont Southampton was the first step in the process to secure a casino licence.

Mr Alibhai said that the company would like to follow through with the application process to provide the amenity “to be competitive with other resorts”.

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Published April 06, 2022 at 7:39 am (Updated April 06, 2022 at 7:39 am)

Work on Fairmont Southampton ‘not cosmetic, it’s a complete gut-out’

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