Local Business

Dockyard sees opportunities in wake of AC35

  • Revitalised: after the America's Cup, what's next for Dockyard?
  • Joanna Cranfield
  • Andrew Dias

The America’s Cup may have ended but Bermuda — and especially Dockyard — has new and exciting things on the horizon.

Among the West End Development Corporation’s plans are new tourist accommodations on site and a new transport museum.

Andrew Dias, the general manager of Wedco, said: “Dockyard has some new opportunities to look forward to. We are going to continue to encourage entrepreneurs to open businesses and provide goods and services within Dockyard.”

Tourist accommodation is seen as one area of opportunity. Mr Dias said: “That is something that we have never gone into previously so that is something that we are looking forward to doing.

“We are planning to take a unit and are looking for an entrepreneur to operate just like a bed-and-breakfast, similar to Airbnb.”

He mentioned that they want to test the market and bring additional revenue and different types of visitors to Dockyard. He believes that if people stay in Dockyard, they will be more inclined to shop at the stores and eat at the restaurants in the area.

While the West End attraction has many cruise ship visitors, they usually eat on the ships because their package deals include meals — limiting the benefit for local restaurants.

Not only does Wedco plan to attract visitors through tourist accommodations but also opening what they believe will be Bermudas first, large exhibit of transportation throughout the ages.

Mr Dias said the museum will open soon and will feature historic island transport, such as horse and carriage, historic motorcycles, trains, marine dinghies, and more.

“You will get a flavour of transportation in Bermuda over the ages,” Mr Dias said. “When it does open it is going to be a must-see for older Bermudians to reminisce and for younger ones to come out and learn a bit of history of what transport used to be like.”

Team Artemis and Oracle also contributed to the museum by donating a boat each before they departed. “That will be a part of Bermudian legacy as the America’s Cup was a historic event,” Mr Dias added.

The international exposure Dockyard enjoyed during the America’s Cup has raised hopes of more events to follow.

“One of the positive things we got from the America’s Cup was the hospitality and entertainment,” Mr Dias said.

“I wouldn’t say there was plenty of people from the actual event, but those that were not quite ready to go home after the event made their way into Dockyard and went to the Frog and Onion pub, the Anchor restaurant, or sat off with some ice cream while enjoying some more entertainment,” said Mr Dias.

“We made sure we had different bands and activities going on for moments like this.”

Although the America’s Cup was in Dockyard, Mr Dias acknowledged it was a separate event which didn’t have a huge affect on sales and revenue for local businesses. “We haven’t lost or gained much more, we stayed on track,” he said.

Some Dockyard storekeepers echoed this point of view.

Burton Jones, owner and manager of The Littlest Drawbridge in Dockyard said: “The end of May sales were good, but that was from the cruise ships. The America’s Cup didn’t bring in as much sales as expected. I believe most people were exhausted after spending all day at the village.”

Another shopkeeper, Muna Vallis, owner of Fair Trade Bermuda said: “ Most of my sales were from the cruise ships not the America’s Cup, but it was a good atmosphere.”

Joanna Cranfield, business development manager at Wedco said: “Since last year May-June revenue has increased overall by 25 per cent. Some shops have seen more benefit than others. Jewellery stores and restaurants in Dockyard saw a higher increase since last year. Overall it was fairly positive.”

Mr Dias and Ms Cranfield both are grateful of the work that was done, not only by the Wedco team, but everyone who pulled together and created a successful event.

“I am very proud of all the staff at Wedco, because we made sure we focused on our core businesses and not just the America’s Cup event,” Ms Cranfield said.

“So when we fixed up the buildings and different attractions it wasn’t just for the event but both the jobs we had to do, by maintaining our business and providing for the America’s Cup.”

Dockyard has been raising its game, said Mr Dias.

“The transportation has improved, taxi, minibuses took a couple years to get sorted, but there is no such thing as a smooth transport system.

“Delays happen. We will always face transport challenges but I believe we have a pretty good relationship with the minibus and taxi drivers who usually are honest and say what we did or did not do right.”

Mr Dias also gave credit to the public ferry operators.

Mrs Cranfield said: “The reason why the Dockyard and the America’s Cup was so successful is because everyone pulled through and worked together — it is amazing what can be achieved with a collaborated effort.

“This could not have been possible without the help of some government departments, Wedco, entrepreneurs and the ACBDA.”

They also believe that having a solid infrastructure and backbone was important whether it be telecommunications, water or sewerage system.

“We are quite diversified in what we do, not only do we have shops and stores, we have our commercial, entertainment and restaurants,” Mr Dias said.

“So it really is a development we continue to improve. A lot of people thought Dockyard could not handle the infrastructure and the vast amount of people but we always said we could do it, and we did it.”

Wedco also strives to maintain and improve its residential area. “Historically I think our residential area needed to be improve and I think we did a good job,” he said.

For more information, go to Wedco’s website at www.dockyardbermuda.com