The Marriott Playa Grande, a Desarollos hotel. *Photo supplied
The Marriott Playa Grande, a Desarollos hotel. *Photo supplied

Senior St George’s figures have urged caution over the announcement of a potential hotel and casino development in the Old Town.

After years of ‘false dawns’, residents in the East End have got used to planning proposals for the old Club Med site falling through.

Former Mayor of St George’s, Henry Hayward, told the Bermuda Sun that many would not believe it until they saw it.

And former UBP leader Kim Swan urged caution in light of the fact the gaming vote had not even gone before the House of Assembly yet.

On Friday, Tourism Development Minister Shawn Crockwell announced that Government had entered into an “exclusive negotiation period” with the Desarrollos Hotelco Group to build a 238-room hotel, resort and casino at the former Club Med property.

No hotel brand was linked to the announcement but Minister Crockwell said it would be a “high-end luxury” brand.

Mr Hayward welcomed the news, but said that people in the East End had endured many years of pain as a result of deals that had fallen through on the site.

He told the Sun: “Because we have been through so much with this site many will only believe it when they see it.

“So many developers have tried to do something with the Club Med site over the years and we have seen a lot of failures.

“We have seen the closing of the golf course and the fallout from that for the St George’s Club and that came with the double whammy of losing the cruise ships.

Mr Hayward added: “I trust this Government will handle it in a businesslike manner especially since all the history with Club Med, which has reflected on St George’s terribly.

“Looking at the developer and seeing the hotels they have built over the last 10 years is encouraging, given the brands that operate those hotels.

“It could be a beautiful idea for St George’s and I’m optimistic they can deliver.”

The proposed development includes 16 hotel residences, 24 golf villas, 16 estate residences and a spa and fitness centre.

There is also provision for meeting rooms, a ballroom located in Fort Victoria, a casino, swimming pools, pool bar and grill, and specialty restaurant located in Fort Albert.

Former UBP leader Kim Swan urged caution over the latest development to be sounded for the Club Med site.

“The St. George community is starving for a development but it is incumbent on the government to get the process right first. 

“The JetGate Fiasco, which has already rocked MP Craig Cannonier’s political career, centres around casino gambling and the redevelopment of this very site.

“The new Premier Dunkley would be well served to pause and have a rethink about returning the process to the beginning by giving the people of Bermuda the opportunity to vote on the referendum on casino gaming that the OBA promised

Mr Swan added: “This announcement also seems premature to me given that the issue of gaming in Bermuda has not even gone to the House yet.”

Desarrollos was founded in 1996 and has developed many real estate properties in Latin America and the Caribbean.

It was one of several groups that expressed interest in the St George’s property and one of five that submitted bids by the March 31 deadline. n