Planners recommend go-ahead for Ariel Sands project
Plans to build a new Ariel Sands resort were expected to go before the Development Applications Board this week with a recommendation that the project be allowed to go ahead.
A report by a technical officer said the topography of the property would reduce the visual impact from South Road for most neighbours, while allowing guests of the resort views of South Shore.
The report added: “The change in the visual field from Dill Lane will admittedly be dramatic. However, some level of change is predictable given the zoning of the adjoining land as tourism, from which this housing development was carved.”
The technical officer noted that while the 84-unit project does include a condominium building, none of the units on the property are proposed for residential use.
Due to the government computer system shutdown yesterday, it was not known if the DAB had accepted the technical officers’ recommendation.
The report said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the application proposes a tourism resort and all speculation regarding its residential use is factually incorrect.”
The officer also said that a tennis court originally intended to be erected on agriculturally zoned land on the property had been removed after concerns were raised by environmental groups.
“The two acres of agricultural reserve abutting South Road will be used for farm-to-table food production,” the report said.
“The smaller agricultural reserve parcel will be maintained as a lawn area, and may also be used for farm-to-table food production in the future.”
The original Ariel Sands Resort – co-owned by film star Michael Douglas – shut its doors in 2008 and all but a single cottage was demolished in 2015.
Plans to build a new hotel development on the site were approved that same year but work on the project did not move forward.
New plans for the site were submitted last year after Mr Douglas announced that he had joined forces with JTRE, a Slovakian real estate developer, to redevelop the 13.8-acre site as a five-star resort.
The technical officer said the new proposal was similar in concept to the previously approved 2015 plans with a combination of cottages and hotels on site.
A four-storey, 33-room hotel building is planned for the south-eastern side of the property with amenities including a 100-seat restaurant, bar area, lounge and gym, all overlooking South Shore.
The site would also have 21 villas, including 18 two-bedroom units and three four-bedroom units.
The project also includes a five storey, 30-condominium building containing eight one-bedroom units, 14 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units.
The technical officer said: “All of the units have balconies orientated towards the south, except those units at grade, which will be provided with courtyards.
“This building will also be home to back-of-house activities, including a service area, laundry facility and staff headquarters.”
The technical officer said that only the tallest buildings would be visible from outside the property and the buildings had been spread out similar to previously approved plans.
The report added that while the larger buildings did not adopt a traditionally Bermudian roof design, that was not uncommon in large structures such as hotels.
“In this case, while the Bermuda architectural elements are limited to a roof section on the villas, and Bermuda inspired art, the one element which has been underrated and overlooked is the attention to landscaping, fulfilling the Bermuda image design element requiring plentiful, lush and colourful subtropical vegetation.
“This will not only enhance the clientele’s experience, but any individual who visits or passes by the resort. Coupled with the retention of the Woodland Reserve along South Road, which will be the subject of a voluntary conservation management plan and the intended cultivation of the agricultural reserve, this is deemed a positive gain/exchange for more modern aesthetics.”
The technical officer said that while the number of units proposed for the property was greater than the 2015 plans, the new plans actually had lower site coverage.
“The resultant site plan, while accommodating more beds and units, manages to result in less hardscaping and more landscaping, a definite planning gain relative to the prior application,” the report said.
“The proposed resort business model has to be successful and cannot be solely based on whether it is perceived to be a more intense development than the prior approval.
“In this regard, the department supports this application, particularly in light of the fact the Environmental Impact Statement has demonstrated that notwithstanding the increased bed and unit count, the impacts are of limited duration and minor, with one exception in respect of moderate impacts on the Dill Lane residents.”
The developers previously said the project was expected to create between 60 and 80 construction jobs, with about 40 people employed at the resort once it is up and running.
Construction at the site is expected to take about two years, with an anticipated completion date of late 2024 or early 2025.