Much-maligned: The Grand Atlantic housing complex on South Shore, here pictured at a PLP press conference in 2011, failed to attract buyers. *File photo by Kageaki Smith
Much-maligned: The Grand Atlantic housing complex on South Shore, here pictured at a PLP press conference in 2011, failed to attract buyers. *File photo by Kageaki Smith

Two boutique hotels firms are currently vying for the job of running the Bermudiana Beach Resort.

The condo-hotel is expected to replace the failed Grand Atlantic housing complex on South Shore after Government reached a Memorandum of Understanding with Caribbean consultancy firm MacLellan & Associates.

The new development will include 100 hotel suites in the existing structures as well as a bar, restaurant, spa and swimming pool.

MacLellan & Associates are also exploring the possibility of building an elevator structure to help guests get from the cliff top complex down to the beach below.

The firm’s CEO, Robert MacLellan, told the Bermuda Sun: “We are currently in talks with two boutique hotel companies.

“They are both US-based and have operations in the islands. They have agreed to provide some of the finance.

“We are also talking to wealthy individuals and finance institutions to finalize the structure of the consortium. 

“We hope to have a decision over which boutique hotel company will run the development within the next 60 to 90 days.” He added: “We also plan to make use of the beach.

“We are looking at an elevator structure for people to get down to the beach from the property.

“This would obviously need to be carefully thought through and properly constructed, but we believe we can build something that is safe.”

The Grand Atlantic site has been the subject of much criticism from local residents as well as the environmental group BEST since 2009 when the decision was made to push ahead with the development.

Opponents of the scheme have raised concerns about the proximity of buildings to the cliff edge and branded the condo project as an ‘eye-sore’ and ‘ill-conceived’. But Mr MacLellan told the Sun: “We have been through the many geological reports and have commissioned our own.

“We don’t believe there is a significant problem with erosion and it will not be an issue moving forward.

“There are other resorts on South Shore with the same geological conditions.”

He said: “The property is certainly not very attractive at present.

“Our intent would be to make it more stylish and provide a bar, restaurant, spa and swimming pool and target a younger market.

“It needs some colour and a massive improvement on the landscaping.

“The entrance will also need to be improved.

“There will need to be significant changes inside the existing 78 apartments.

“We plan to create around 100 hotel suites that have a small living space, a bathroom and bedroom.

“But this will all be done inside the existing structures.

“As far as real estate prices, we would be looking to position the hotel in the mid-range. We are not creating a luxury resort.”

Mr MacLellan, who has been a regular visitors to Bermuda in the last decade and was the last resident manager of the Holiday Inn in St George’s, added: “I have built up a reasonable feel for the island and am clear about what everyone is trying to do to increase the tourism base.

“Bermuda is a unique destination with a high number of return visitors and destination loyalty.

“We believe that the hotel condo model works well in Bermuda because of the island’s unique qualities.”

Mr MacLellan hopes that work on the new Bermudiana Beach Resort can get under way before the end of the year.

His firm is currently also working on two other projects in Anguilla and St Kitts. 

The St Kitts project is under construction and due to open this year, while the Anguilla scheme is due to open next year.

He said: “Right now we need to make sure we can get exact numbers on what this exercise will cost.

“We are doing final checks on the real estate market, having already done our basic calculations, and we think we can make this work.

“We are still at a very sensitive stage of the process and there is an awful lot of work still to do over the next 120 days to pull everything together.”