Column: BEST Express Concerns About SDO

April 18, 2023

[Opinion column written by BEST's Kim Smith]

Bermuda is a unique and beautiful island. That’s one of the reasons why we love living here and that’s why people are prepared to pay so much money to come here on holiday.

Six storey concrete blocks on top of hills with other blocks all across the area and surrounding the hotel are not beautiful, nor are they unique.

The proposed development at the Fairmont Southampton site has now expanded to include 261 new condominiums located around the property. 147 of these are residential. This would mean the destruction of 34 acres of green space and a horrendous eyesore on a high ridge of undeveloped land.

We are very concerned about the loss of so much beautiful green space, the habitat that goes with it, and the overall impact this will have on our marine and land environment. What will become of Jews Bay when even more effluent pours into the water there?

Has anyone considered the impact so many tall buildings will have on the wind and radiant heat in the surrounding area? When you look up do you want see vegetation, blue sky and, at night, stars? Or, do you want to see concrete block and electric lights? Think of those area residents who will lose value on their homes when the property buildings loom over theirs, invading their right to privacy.

But this is not our only concern. It is just one of many reasons why we want the Department of Planning and the Government to turn down the Gencom/Westend Properties’ request for a Special Development Order at the Fairmont Southampton site.

Another concern we have is the fact that we don’t actually know what they want to build. Gencom said these drawings “in no way represent how we envisage incorporating the proposed tourism and residential units into the existing Fairmont Southampton property. Surely we don’t want to risk being blind-sided by giving permissions before we have the details?

We are told this development will create jobs for Bermudians. Temporary construction jobs, maybe, but the construction industry in Bermuda is already doing well. Where will the extra workers come from?

It has been well documented that existing hotels and restaurants are struggling to find employees – Bermudian and otherwise. Residential condominium properties also require considerably less staff than a hotel, so we are not convinced this proposed development will actually provide meaningful job opportunities for Bermudians. There is also the fundamental question as to whether anyone will even live in these properties if they are sold. Vacant ownership is a problem in many locations, creating a concrete wasteland.

We’re told the priority is to begin renovation of the existing hotel first, but no engineer’s report has been released for study. What condition is the building in? This is an older property that has been closed for a few years now.

We’re told about the supposed economic benefits, but there is no meaningful cost/benefit analysis based on hard data. Can Gencom share the economic benefits and employment opportunities the units at Tuckers Point have brought to Bermuda? What costs will this development impose on Bermuda? This development will compete against the now publicly owned Morgan’s Point and Bermudiana Beach Resort.

We’re told total construction, including the proposed new units, is expected to take 20 years. Even if the existing hotel is successfully renovated and reopened, who will want to stay there in the years to come with so much construction going on around them? People usually want peace and quiet when they go on holiday.

Will each new unit’s owner be entitled to a car? Can the West End roads really fit that many more vehicles? Speak to anyone who commutes daily from Sandys or Southampton and they will give you a firm ‘no’, especially with 20 years’ worth of construction traffic added to the mix.

What will be the cost of lost tourism appeal from over development? Tourists want to enjoy natural beauty and open spaces when they come to Bermuda, and Bermudians want to enjoy that too. Destruction of our natural beauty will cost Bermuda tourist dollars.

We want to see the Fairmont Southampton hotel fully operational again as the priority. What they have proposed is a publicly subsidised real estate development. Great for the developer, bad for Bermuda. This development will irreparably damage this beautiful place we call home.

If Government wants to encourage development, please can they focus on Elbow Beach which is a brownfield site below the hilltop. If we destroy our island’s natural resources, no one will want to come here and there will be no economic benefit, only economic decline.

We urge whoever is reading this to do what they can to stop this SDO being approved.

Objections must be filed by 3rd May 2023. Please visit for information on how to submit an objection. You can also hand deliver a letter of objection to the Department of Planning on the 5th Floor of the Lois Browne-Evans Building, 58 Court Street, Hamilton. Ask for it to be signed-for to confirm receipt and note the date and time of the delivery. You can also contact your local MP and ask for them to represent your objection. Contact information for all MPs and Senators will be posted on the BEST website []

Thank you.

- Kim Smith, executive director of the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST]

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Comments (2)

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  1. Nick says:

    Well said.

    What’s the ARV situation?. Does each unit get a car? And an assigned unit marked parking spot ? aren’t there like 10 owners per unit? (Fractional)

    Why is none of this outlined? There are consequences.

    Talk about 42 or whatever cars at big old Hilltop!!! Not to mention the staff servicing plumbers hvac trucks deliveries back of house vehicles !

    I see more government revenue for import on a car and annual licensing fees for that car. And revenue for the dealership for that car. And revenue for TCD for a driving license for the parents and 3 kids.

    Great point about radiant heat and electric lights (all night bright? ). , Vs whistling frogs at night.

    Making concrete is one of the highest carbon emitting activities. Not to Mention it absorbs and radiates heat.

  2. Unbelievable says:

    This is a blatant money grab at the expense of Bermuda’s environment. The people behind this development plainly and matter-of-factly dont know anything about Bermuda. Shame on the Bermuda government for playing nice with these grotesque people.