Log In

Reset Password

BIU backs hotel plan, takes aim at ‘ill-informed opinions’

Job creator: the Fairmont Southampton resort will create hundreds of jobs once renovations are complete, according to the BIU (File photograph)

The Bermuda Industrial Union has backed the controversial development of the Fairmont Southampton resort, claiming that it will create hundreds of jobs.

In a statement, a spokesman for the union said that the island’s economic recovery will stall if the hotel remains shut, and that critics of the plans were “a privileged few” who had no concern for the welfare of working Bermudians.

The plans were heavily criticised when they were made public by developer Westend Properties last week. The development includes building 261 new residential and tourism units — some in six-storey blocks — which will take up 25 per cent of the resort’s golf course.

But former premier Sir John Swan endorsed the project as a potential asset with far-reaching benefits.

The BIU has also highlighted the long-term benefits that the redevelopment, which is slated to take place over 20 years.

The spokesman said: “There is a simple truth that resonates within those of us in the trenches fighting for workers’ rights — Bermuda’s economic recovery will be stalled should the naysayers succeed and the Fairmont Southampton remains closed.”

The spokesman pointed out that the hotel had employed 700 staff before its closure in 2020. The shutdown reduced the island’s visitor bed count by 30 per cent and one knock-on effect was that airlift to Bermuda was cut.

The spokesman added: “Bermuda’s economy suffered a loss of approximately 100 million per year.

“Even if you did not work for Fairmont Southampton directly, you have undoubtedly been impacted by its closure.

“Anyone who has booked a direct flight to the East Coast recently can appreciate how much more difficult and expensive travel has become. Whether you are driving a taxi or working in a local restaurant, you have felt the impact of the reduced number of tourists coming to our shores.

“Additionally, the residential units will, over time, provide sustainable economic benefit to a broad spectrum of trades and services required to maintain the properties. We would be remiss if we overlooked the jobs these projects would generate in the fields of maintenance, housekeeping and landscaping.”

The spokesman said that criticism of artist impressions of development were premature.

They said: “Notwithstanding the fact the developers made it clear in their submission that these do not even remotely resemble what the new development will look like, those who hold this view have expressed no interest or compassion for those whose capacity to provide for their families is put on hold or stalled.”

The union added that there was time for the development to be scaled back after a consultation process.

The spokesman said: “There will be opportunities for the scope and scale of this project to be adjusted through the consultative process, but those desperately waiting for the jobs and opportunities the finished product will provide should not be held back because of naysayers.

“We encourage our members, and all Bermudians, to engage in the consultative process to ensure their voices are not drowned out by the ill-informed opinions of the project’s detractors.”

Taking aim at environmental groups that have condemned the project, the spokesman said: “There are some who have complained about the impact this project would have on the green space, oblivious of the fact that the new development proposal preserves 62 acres for recreational use and green space.”

It is estimated that the projected build will take up an additional 34 acres of the entire 100-acre property

The spokesman added: “We should be wary of environmental groups that object to hypothetical problems that the consultative process can resolve. It is our view that Bermudians would be better served if these groups focused on real-world environmental impacts, such as the effects of Belco’s operations on the surrounding homeowners’ water quality and potential health effects.

“There is, again, insufficient weight to this concern to justify delaying a project that would impact the economic wellbeing of hundreds of Bermudian families.”

The One Bermuda Alliance, which has described the scale of the development as “criminal”, also came under fire.

The spokesman said: “The most bewildering objections to this project have undoubtedly come from representatives of the Opposition party.

“It reflects an unprecedented level of oblivious irony for the party responsible for the controversial Morgan’s Point, St Regis and airport projects to speak to the efficacy of the current government’s approach.

“While the Opposition may hope to paint a negative picture of the Government’s actions, their objections are counterproductive.

“The Bermuda Industrial Union’s stance is simple — the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton property is of vital importance to Bermuda’s economic recovery, and we cannot afford to allow the perspective of a privileged few to derail an opportunity of this magnitude.”

The refurbishment of the hotel is expected to be completed by the end of next year, while the construction of 114 tourism units and 147 residential units will be staggered over several phases.

• For the BIU statement, see “Related Media”

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published April 21, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated April 21, 2023 at 9:17 am)

BIU backs hotel plan, takes aim at ‘ill-informed opinions’

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon