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Neighbours raise concerns over White Sands hotel plans

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An artist’s rendering of the renovated White Sands Hotel as proposed. (Image from planning documents)

Paget residents have raised concerns about plans to resurrect the former White Sands Hotel as an all-suite boutique hotel property.

Grape Bay Holdings Ltd had proposed renovating the property to turn the 40-room hotel into 14 hotel suites, improve the hotel’s pool area and create additional guest parking.

However, an application for representation, submitted by Andrew Crisson on behalf of a group of area property owners, landlords and property managers, said the project would have a “significant impact” on neighbouring properties.

“We have no objection to improving the area and welcome expanded tourism capacity for Bermuda,” the letter stated. “However, we are hoping that this project respects the integrity of the current White Sands/Tankfield community.”

The letter stated that the area is marketed as “peaceful” and safe for pedestrians with easy access to Grape Bay Beach, so any increase in noise or traffic could threaten that.

“With respect to renters, it would be necessary for us to provide notice and to disclose any construction as a part of our agreements and advertising,” the group said.

“This notice would need to be provided to potential renters at least one year in advance. Please note that many of us base our income on these rentals.

“During Covid, several of us faced income disruption due to cancelled bookings, therefore further disruption is a serious financial concern — at the very least, noise and environmental displacement would impact our bookings and rates during the period of construction.

“Lastly, we would like to ensure that beach access points are never blocked and that construction during early mornings or evenings is minimised.”

Another neighbour filed an objection arguing that the property was no longer suitable for a hotel development, noting that the property had already been rezoned from tourism to residential.

“The property has not been a hotel for almost 20 years because it no longer meets the demands of visiting tourists. This is why the property has been rezoned,” the objector said.

“It is in an entirely residential area, access to the beach is poor and other than the pool, the facility will offer no amenity for guests. Unfortunately, at this scale, it has been proven that the hotel model will not work for like properties in Bermuda.”

The objector — who was not named in the document — also raised concerns that the proposal seemed to include a bar.

They argued that 14 hotel suites would not host enough visitors to sustain it, which would mean the hotel would need to attract others to the property.

“A new bar or even just catered events with alcohol sale/ service and consumption in a dense residential area is problematic,” the objector added.

“There has been a history of similar ventures in the location being a nuisance to the neighbourhood by virtue of public disturbance, traffic, noise, drunk drivers and other inappropriate behaviour.”

The former White Sands Hotel. (Photograph from planning documents)

The White Sands hotel first welcomed guests in 1953, but closed just shy of its 50th anniversary in 2002.

The property was reopened the following year as the Grape Bay Beach Hotel, but it was later leased to the Bermuda Hospitals Board to be used to accommodate nursing staff.

The BHB confirmed that it had moved out of the property in 2012.

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Published February 03, 2023 at 7:46 am (Updated February 03, 2023 at 9:02 am)

Neighbours raise concerns over White Sands hotel plans

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