A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on the eve of the Progressive Labour Party’s second General Election anniversary, marking the end of what Public Works Minister Lieutenant Colonel David Burch said was “a long journey”.

Nearly two years since the first meeting was held on August 14, 2017, “to convert the Grand Atlantic site into a new mid-market boutique hotel to be renamed The Bermudiana Beach Resort”, the Minister said it was “certainly well worth it”.

Now that “the world renowned Hilton brand has borne fruit”, he said: “The condominium hotel development will provide the best value for money and is most closely aligned with this Government’s goals of increasing tourist accommodations.”

The partnership between the Bermuda Housing Corporation, Robert MacLellan of MacLellan & Associates, OBMI Bermuda and Bermuda Realty Company Limited , saw the conversion of the former Grand Atlantic property with 78 units into “a full-service condo hotel with resort leisure amenities”.

“The property is being redeveloped by a wholly owned subsidiary of the Corporation with expert input from the specialist resort co-developer team, who are providing the design, project management, operations, marketing experience and resources.

“The majority of the condominiums 71 in number – 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,” said Colonel Burch.

“Elevators are to be installed in eight (8) of the nine (9) condominium blocks, with the construction of two swimming pools and the installation of two Hill Hiker trams to provide access to the beach below and add stability to the cliff face.”

Moving forward, he added: “The condominiums will be marketed as deeded vacation homes on an outright sale basis to individual owners (available to both local and international purchasers).

“However, owner usage by condominium buyers is restricted to a maximum 90 nights per year, 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% of the condominiums will be modified to include “lockoff” en-suite bedrooms and thus increase the number of suites and rooms available for hotel accommodations to 111.”

The Minister noted that “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.”

Proceeds to BHC from this agreement “will allow the Corporation to clear the debt on this site and provide funds and resources to better focus on its core mandate of providing housing for the people of Bermuda,” said Col Burch.

“We are delighted to reach this milestone and I am pleased to report that over 20 local contractors and suppliers have already contributed to the renovation of the show units you will shortly see.

“As we move forward employment opportunities will increase apace as we accelerate the renovations of the remainder of the property,” he added.

Col Burch also commended “both the teams at the Housing Corporation ably led by General Manager – Major Barrett Dill and Finance Manager Mr Mark Melo, the Bermuda representatives of Bermudiana Beach Resorts Mr Colin Campbell of OBMI, Mr.Brian Madeiros of Bermuda Reality and of course industry veteran Mr. Robert MacLellan all of whom have worked tirelessly to bring this deal to fruition”.

The Minister concluded: “We are confident that the development of this exciting new tourism property in partnership with Hilton will greatly enhance our tourism offerings.”