by Hunter R. Slaton | February 01, 2008

The Westin Le Paradis Beach & Golf Resort, St. Lucia

Opening this year:
The Westin Le Paradis
Beach & Golf Resort, St. Lucia

For three decades, Bermuda had a moratorium on new-build hotel and resort properties. That changed, though, at the end of November 2007, when Bermuda’s premier, Dr. The Honorable Ewart F. Brown Jr., JP, MP, announced that the Nantucket, Mass.- and New York City-based Scout Real Estate Capital will build a brand-new, five-star Southampton Beach Resort.

The resort, for which preliminary designs will be submitted this year, and which is scheduled to open sometime in 2010, will be a 150-room oceanside property featuring a luxury spa and fitness center, among other enticements. The development marks a new direction for Bermuda. According to Harper Sibley, the new resort’s managing director, “This project is a prime example of [Premier Brown’s] commitment to maximizing Bermuda’s potential as a tourist destination.”

Thirteen hundred miles south, the Caribbean is beginning a similar turn toward luxury tourism infrastructure development. Allen Chastenet, minister of tourism for St. Lucia, as well as chairman of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization, said of his island, “We’ve had high-end hotels, but they’ve been more boutique. Now we are seeing a huge injection of new properties.”

A 232-room Westin with 30,000 square feet of meeting space is due in St. Lucia in 2008, while a 275-room Ritz-Carlton (with 7,000 square feet of meeting space) and a 200-room Raffles Resort are scheduled to open in 2009 and 2010, respectively. With these new properties, the island’s hotel inventory will jump from nearly 4,900 rooms to approximately 5,600 rooms.

The 2007 Caribbean Trends in the Hotel Industry survey, conducted by Atlanta-based PKF Hospitality Research and released last November, pointed out that new hotel development in the region has shifted toward upscale and luxury resort properties.

“We see a lot of new luxury development going on,” said Scott Smith, vice president of PKF-HR’s parent company, PKF Consulting. While there were no hard numbers, recent projects include the 450-room Riu Palace (3,600 square feet of meeting space), which opened in Aruba last July, and the 428-room Hyatt Regency (43,000 square feet of meeting space), which opened in Trinidad last month.

Among other luxury resort projects planned are a 125-room Mandarin Oriental in St. Kitts (with a 225-seat ballroom, slated to open in 2010) and a 105-room Four Seasons in Barbados, scheduled to open in December 2009.