There is a touch of serendipity about the decision to host a regional hotel investment conference in Bermuda this year.
It is expected 300 delegates will attend the two-day Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit in November.
Parris Jordan, chairman of Chicos, acknowledged the fortunate timing of holding the event in Bermuda as the island enjoys an uptick in hotel room occupancy, hotel developments and an increase in visitors arriving by air.
Across the island a variety of new hotel projects are either under way, in the final stages of pre-ground breaking planning or, in the case of The Loren at Pink Beach, opened.
Mr Jordan said: “Last year and this year to date we have seen very strong numbers for Bermuda. In fact, it was the leading destination in terms of increases in RePAR, which is revenue per available room performance, for the Caribbean in 2016.
“I don’t know if it’s luck or good timing, but it is very appropriate that we will be in Bermuda this year.”
This will be the seventh Chicos event. The conference is staged by HVS. Mr Jordan is a vice-president of HVS, which he described as the world’s leading hospitality consultancy firm. It meets and consults with hotel investors, developers, hotel brands and governments around the world, and is also involved in a number of conference events.
As the host of this year’s summit, Bermuda will enjoy opportunities to network and showcase opportunities on the island, according to Mr Jordan.
He said the conference attracts decision-makers from companies, banks, governments who are at the very top of their organisation.
“So the great part about having Chicos here in Bermuda, is you have everyone in the same room that can help put a deal together,” he said.
“You will have the opportunity to showcase development sites and opportunities and take investors to those sites.”
Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, welcomed the decision of Chicos to come to the island. He presented a graph that showed past, present and projected future hotel inventory on the island.
The graph showed that in 1990 the island had 83 hotel properties, with a total of 4,248 rooms. Today, those numbers are about half. It is projected the number of hotels will increase to 54 by 2025, with 3,892 rooms.
Mr Dallas said smart growth in hotel development “will be critical to the success and sustainability of the Bermuda tourism economy”.
He added: “A turnaround is taking shape. By 2020, we have forecast having an additional 400 rooms added to the island’s capacity.”
Those rooms would be added by the development of new properties, including Ritz-Carlton Reserve at Caroline Bay, St Regis in St George’s, Azura at the former Surf Side in Warwick, Rosebud on Hawkins Island, and the Bermudiana Beach Resort at Grand Atlantic.
Mr Dallas acknowledged that the projected additional 1,000 hotel rooms coming between 2020 and 2025 was a “more bullish view” as those projects are still at an embryonic planning stage.
The Hotel Incentives Act, which is currently before Parliament, will be a “vital tool to help usher hotel investors through the development process”, he said.
“Come November, we hope to be putting the new Hotel Incentives Act to work with hotel investors travelling here to Bermuda for the Chicos conference.”
Michael Fahy, the tourism minister, also spoke about the hotel incentives legislation and how it aims to streamline many processes for developers.
“We are moving to a more competitive, modern legislative framework that is newly focused on attracting a greater diversity of tourism investment
“Revitalisation of this sector has the greatest potential to spur economic growth and job development in the immediate and near future. It will bring more training programmes for workers, and more jobs. It will create a completive investment environment for hospitality developers.”
Stephen Todd, president of the Bermuda Hotel Association, speaking at the announcement of the Chicos event, in the Hamilton Princess, said the new legislation was a key component of the future success of Bermuda, both for existing operators and future investors.
He highlighted the importance of ongoing commitments from existing hoteliers and operators on the island, adding: “We were extremely pleased to see the Green family making significant investment here at the Hamilton Princess.
“And we are seeing a number of properties undergoing, or having undergone, renovations and improvements to their amenities and services to guests.”
The Chicos conference takes place at the Hamilton Princess on November 9 and 10. Further details are available on the website http://chicos.hvsconferences.com/