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“We’re going to employ a lot of Bermudians in the construction of
the property as well as in the operation and management of the prop-
erty, and so we think that the project will be a good economic engine in
and of itself for Bermuda, and hopefully jump-start a whole process of
people taking another look at the island to invest their money in.”
The two appear to be tailor-made for each other, as well as the task
“I think before you look on the outside as a match, you gotta make
sure on the inside that it works as a partnership, and I think we complement each other,” says Douglas.
Between his inside relationships with Bermuda and “Seth’s worldwide expertise in real estate,” Douglas is almost bristling with excitement at making forward progress on a project that has become
somewhat of a bugbear for him over the years.
“It’s difficult to do just from the outside,” says Douglas, “because you
don’t know where all the bodies are buried—so that part helps.”
“I think the premier and the government know how active Catherine
and I have been in supporting Bermuda whenever we can. So I think
that’s an added plus when you’re promoting or trying to sell a villa with
people that, you know, probably get a little more attention [than others].”
This isn’t lost on premier Michael Dunkley, nor on the Tourism Au-
thority. The luxury resort is aiming to cater to exactly the kind of crowd
the BTA under CEO Bill Hanbury has identified as a target audience
for future marketing efforts. Douglas’s promotion of Ariel Sands on
social media sparks news articles across the world. That kind of free
publicity is extremely hard to come by.
“It freshens up our product. It gives us a chance to sell a new dimen-
sion of Bermuda,” Hanbury tells me after the ceremony. “Everybody
knows and loves the Bermuda that exists today, but we’ve got to find
additional markets, and these are the kinds of products that will bring
new markets to us, whether it’s on the luxury end, the millennials, [or]
families; these are the kinds of products that the global tourism indus-
try wants—that the global marketplace demands.”
“You can’t cater to the hamburger and hotdog crowd alone,” says
the premier, recalling a phrase used by former tourism minister Jim
Woolridge. “Bermuda is not inexpensive.” To get a project like this go-
ing, he says, government will “do everything we can to break through
the red tape.”
At the same time the project could also be a catalyst for other
developments around the island. “It’s a confidence builder for us,” says
Hanbury. “As you know, there’re five or six projects that are in the cue
that potentially could go in the next year.”
And that’s the key. “Potentially.” While it hasn’t been short on
groundbreaking ceremonies to attend, the One Bermuda Alliance
might be left understandably frustrated with a lack of action thereafter.
Of the projects Hanbury speaks of, only the Green family’s develop-
ment of the Hamilton Princess is moving forward with any purpose.
The belief is that Ariel Sands, in attracting the likes of a high-end
clientele and in creating a business that can sustain itself throughout the
shoulder months, will help re-establish Bermuda’s reputation among the
East Coast’s landed gentry and draw the envious eyes of any developers
in need of encouragement to invest in Bermuda.
“It also helps to have the lure of Michael Douglas and Catherine
Zeta-Jones,” adds the premier.