In a statement embargoed until today (Feb 1), Westend Properties Limited, the owners of Fairmont Southampton confirmed “that it has fully reimbursed the Bermuda Government approximately $11 million, which was advanced for employee redundancy”.
The company said: “The repayment, made directly to the Government, will also be accompanied by additional funds toreimburse Government’s legal, consultant and other fees.”
A spokesperson from Westend Properties added: “We have been working overtime to ensure that the Government was reimbursed as quickly as possible.
“The last 10 months havebeen an incredibly trying time for the hotel industry, and we are truly sympathetic to the effect it has had on the Bermudian tourism industry, the employees, and other stakeholders. Our commitment toour staff and their best interests, has, and will always be a top priority.
“We continue to manage this redevelopment of the resort with the best intentions for Bermuda’s future. There are many exciting things to look forward to, inclusive of the several hundred jobs that will be created during the construction phase, and the reopening of the newly positioned hotel following the renovations.”
It was also noted that “as a result of the COVID pandemic, ownership has been working diligently to manage a very difficult and unprecedented economic situation, which accelerated the closure of the hotel and, in turn, the significant payout to staff. It is due to relentless effortsmade by all partiesthat the funds have been secured and reimbursed during this difficult time”.
In his update late last year, Finance Minister Curtis Dickinson stated: “The Fairmont Southampton is an iconic property and an essential component of the available beds and conference facilities that support Bermuda Tourism and the airlift that we as a country currently enjoy.”
On that note, the company said: “As the largest hotel and private employer in Bermuda, its contribution to the island’s
economy cannot be overstated. Pre-COVID, it accounted for approximately one quarter of Bermuda’s hotel room inventory and approximately 35 percent of its air visitors.
“Globally, the tourism sector has suffered a tremendous loss over the course of 2020 and the Fairmont Southampton was no exception, with ownership having to fund significant losses due to the hotel’s earlier than expected closure. Despite these tough economic times and very challenging financial markets, a significant amount of planning and pre-development work for the extensive $150-200million property renovation has already been completed.”
Karim Alibhai, Founder and Principal of Gencom, the company that owns a subsidiary which serves as developer and managing partner of Westend Properties Limited said: “Gencom is committed to Bermuda’s long-term success as a desired luxury tourist destination, as already evidenced by the repositioning and reopening of Rosewood Tucker’s Point. We continue to press on with our business plan, which includes executing on the substantial renovation of the Fairmont Southampton.
“We’re all looking forward to returning this significant and iconic property to its former glory as Bermuda’s premiere resort for both locals and visitors.
“While it has been an unconventional path thus far, Gencom has a wealth of experience in this arena and a successful track record worldwide. We are very confident in our ability to effectively manage the Fairmont Southampton’s redevelopment while navigating these highly unusual circumstances. As we make headway, we will continue to build a close and constructive relationship with the Bermuda Government to work toward a successful outcome for all.”
About Westend Properties Limited: Gencom, a development and asset management company, purchased Westend Properties Limited in December 2019 through an affiliate, which owns the Fairmont Southampton. Gencom’s global portfolio consists of luxury hotels and resorts worldwide, inclusive of Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton brands.