Tourism Minister Zane DeSilva has come in for criticism by Opposition MP Michael Dunkley, for being unable to “provide answers the most basic answers to questions”, following his Ministerial Statement on the new Bermudian Beach Resort.
Commenting on the Warwick property that was formerly the Grand Atlantic, Mr Dunkley said: “It makes one wonder why there was a ribbon cutting ceremony when the Government cannot readily give summary details on the investment in the new venture.”
He was referring to questions he asked in follow up to the Minister’s Statement in Parliament on the Government’s plans to transform the property into a boutique condominium hotel.
“The more questions you ask the more questions arise! On Friday in Parliament I asked the Minister of Tourism questions on his statement regarding the launch of the Bermudiana Beach Resort,” said Mr Dunkley.
“The Minister said the property is being developed by a wholly owned subsidiary of the BHC with expert input from specialist resort co-developer team of MacLellan & Associates.
“I asked the Minister what is the investment by Government or the BHC and also the investment by MacLellan [a commitment in dollars] in the planned development. The Minister said he would have to get back to me.
“The Minister also mentioned in his statement the refurbishment of 71 condos and that the remaining condos would be converted to amenities like reception, restaurant, bar etc. I asked who is responsible for that part of the development and what is the budget. The Minister replied again he would get the information,” he added.
“Finally, I asked the sale price of the condos to both local and international purchases. Again he said he would get back to me as it is a moving target but he believes it is “in the lower 400’s and up.
“I find the lack of answers extraordinary. It is unacceptable that a Minister would deliver a statement to Parliament and then be unable to provide the most basic answers to questions that one would assume be asked upon delivering a statement.
“In addition, it makes one wonder why there was a ribbon cutting ceremony when the Government cannot readily give summary details on the investment in the new venture.
“Instead we have another Minister go off on a tangent and say the Grand Atlantic project was subject to ‘sabotage’ and ‘black people are not supposed to have beach access on South Shore Road’. What a load of nonsense!”
The One Bermuda Alliance MP concluded with a reminder to the Progressive Labour Party that the “sabotage” was poor planning and a waste of $45 million on what they (PLP) said would be affordable housing for Bermudians.
Said Mr Dunkley: “Sadly for cover in this debacle the Minister resorted to the typical PLP tactic of divide and conquer using the “race card.” This divisive and hateful language is unacceptable and we as Bermudians expect better from the Government.”
In his Ministerial Statement, Mr DeSilva said “Bermuda’s newest hotel development” will be “a new mid-market boutique hotel to be renamed The Bermudiana Beach Resort – Tapestry Collection by Hilton”.
“The property is being redeveloped by a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bermuda Housing Corporation with expert input from the specialist resort co-developer team, who are providing the design, project management, operations, marketing experience and resources.
“Seventy-one of the condominiums are being refurbished with new kitchens and bathrooms, additional windows and new floor coverings.
The remaining seven (7) condominiums are being converted into a reception area, bar, restaurant, meeting room, commercial kitchen, spa and operations support areas.
“Elevators are to be installed in 8 of the 9 condominium blocks, with the construction of two swimming pools and the installation of two trams to provide access to the beach below and add stability to the cliff face,” he added.
“The condominiums, available to both local and international purchasers, will be marketed as deeded vacation homes on an outright sale basis. They will, however, be restricted to a maximum 90 nights per year occupancy, with the balance of nights available for use as hotel inventory under a mandatory rental programme contract, which shares income between individual owners and the resort operating company. Almost 50 percent of the condominiums will be modified to include “lock-off” en-suite bedrooms and thus increase the number of suites and rooms available for hotel accommodations to 111.
“Phase 1 – comprising 70 of the 111 keys will come online in July next year with the remaining 41 units in 2021. The agreement with the Hilton franchise will provide access to their world-wide marketing and reservations systems,” said the Minister.
“We are confident that the development of this exciting new tourism property in partnership with Hilton Hotels International will greatly enhance our tourism offerings.”