Hundreds of workers are facing redundancy after the Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda’s largest hotel, on Wednesday announced plans to close until 2022 for renovations.
A memo sent to the staff by the general manager, Kiaran MacDonald, said the 18-month shut down for a facelift would mean 700 layoffs and cause “significant hardship for many”.
“Although not wholly unexpected, it nonetheless marks a very sad day for all our colleagues, Fairmont Hotels, and indeed Bermuda,” he wrote.
The South Shore hotel, hard-hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, is to get a US$100 million refurbishment, with a projected reopening in April 2022.
The ruling Progressive Labour Party, which is campaigning for the October 1 snap general election, has given a commitment to assist in the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton, the island’s largest hotel, a 593-room property, which opened in 1972.
The hotel was sold last December to a Miami-based investment and development company for an undisclosed fee.
Karim Alibhai, the founder of investment firm Gencom, said at the time he planned an ambitious programme of renovations at the hotel which overlooks the south shore.
Gencom said it planned to leave the Fairmont Southampton, which is located on nearly 100 acres with an 18-hole par-3 golf course, under the brand and management of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. It was Gencom’s second investment in Bermuda.
Two years ago it bought Bermuda’s Rosewood Tucker’s Point Hotel and moved it out of receivership.
The Royal Gazette newspaper reported that the staff were given the news on Wednesday that they would remain on layoff until the hotel closes on October 23.