Plan for new building, restaurant, pool at Bermudiana Beach Resort approved
A plan to renovate the Bermudiana Beach Resort to ready it for guests has been given the green light by the Development Applications Board.
The plan, submitted this year, includes new beach access, an arrivals building, new restaurant facilities and a pool overlooking the South Shore.
While a single objection to the plan was received from the Bermuda Audubon Society, a planning report said that the concerns had already been addressed in a previously approved application for the site.
The report said: “The works contained in this application are necessary to provide additional amenity for the condo hotel.
“In the context of the change of use for the site, the proposed development is appropriate for the site, in keeping with tourism policies, and will allow for the enjoyment of the land and is therefore supported for approval.”
The application for the resort included the creation of a new two-storey reception building and an events support building with a kitchen and restrooms on the west side of the site.
One of the existing buildings on the northeast side of the site — Block C — would be modified to add a restaurant as well as a loading dock, basement and terrace.
The proposals also featured a moongate and a pool with deck on the south side of the site, along with a poolside bar and grill.
The new plans included a flight of stairs and an elevator on the southeast side of the resort to replace the funicular access to the beach.
The planning report said that while the arrivals and event support buildings were close to the public road, the board would be warranted in using its discretion to approve it given the layout of the property.
The report also supported changes to the hotel amenities on the site from previously approved plans.
“All of the amenities proposed along the southern cliff face and sited in areas where development was proposed and approved in prior applications,” the report writer said.
“The most notable change is the relocation of the pool from the western side of the property to the eastern side with a separate pool bar, grill and bathroom facilities.
“This building has been kept to a practical minimum, and its need is justified since the restaurant is no longer located in proximity, and therefore cannot rely on it for standard hotel poolside services.”
The report also highlighted the removal of a previously planned funicular with a combination of an elevator and stairs to bring visitors down the cliff to the beach area.
“All of the foregoing structures will be block construction, plastered and painted, with Bermuda image embellishments incorporated where appropriate, such as the beach storage building with white roof and shutter,” the report said.
“None of these structures are visible from outside of the property, unless on the water.”
The report said that policies allow discretion for coastal development under certain criteria.
“This criterion involves the stipulation that the proposal cannot be sited within a development area beyond the boundaries of coastal reserve,” the report said.
“The structures facilitating access to the beach and beach storage structure cannot be sited beyond the coastal reserve and continues to warrant the board's discretion in that the purpose is to accommodate a use that is ancillary to the development on the lot, it will enable access to the water and will provide facilities necessary to further the enjoyment of the land.
“Given the extent and characteristics the coastline and proposed new tourism use for the site, the scale of the proposed development is appropriate.”
The Bermudiana Beach resort — originally the Grand Atlantic housing development — was expected to open in 2020 but financing problems caused the opening date to be pushed back until next March.
Plans to renovate the site had been approved before, but David Burt, the Premier, also the tourism minister, announced this year that new plans would be drawn up with the backing of the Hilton hotel franchise.
Contractor BCM started work on the resort after a loan backed by a $10 million government guarantee was approved in June 2021.
But the Bermudiana Development Company dropped its development partners MacLellan & Associates, CBE Holdings and Bermuda Realty in September last year.
Mr Burt said the resort developer had hired engineering firm Brunel Limited, a Bermudian company involved in several major hotel projects, and Miami-based RAD Architecture, a hotel specialist.
The Bermuda Audubon Society voiced concerns about the proposal and filed an objection to the plans.
Their objection letter said that while the site is zoned for tourism use, there is an overlying conservation area of woodland reserve along the northern and southern sides.
Two buildings and part of a third have already been built, but the proposal includes further development in the areas.
The letter also said the location raises concerns about the future of the neighbouring Southlands estate, a national park.
Plans which proposed turning the south-eastern section of Southlands into a parking and event space for the hotel were previously rejected, but the new application includes a path and connection gate to an event lawn on Southlands.
“It is quite worrisome and perhaps inappropriate for the Bermuda Housing Corporation to assume that such an event lawn will be approved in the future,” the society said.
“There is no justification for placement of these facilities in this location at this time.”