Air deal aids island's smaller properties

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HAMILTON, Bermuda -- Tourism initiatives didn't break the back of softer occupancy levels here this summer, but a sampling of the island's smaller hotels showed the deals did attract some leisure business that otherwise might not have come their way.

Lesline Williams, front office manager of the Rosedon in Pembroke, termed the Bermuda Department of Tourism's free companion air ticket offer on five-night minimum stays "a success."

She said the 47-unit Rosedon required guests who took advantage of the offer to occupy luxury category rooms for five nights.

Operators such as Certified Vacations, Gogo Worldwide Vacations, Mark Travel, TNT Vacations and Red Seal Vacations (Canada) sent guests, Williams added.

U.S. travelers fill 80% of the Rosedon's rooms, Williams said, but agents account for only 5% of the business.

Meanwhile, the property is offering a six-night honeymoon package priced at $1,460, double (room portion commissionable at 10%).

The Surf Side Beach Club introduced value-added deals, including free nights and breakfast, for guests staying in September and October. To enhance honeymoon stays, Rosedon added four Royal Rooms priced at $310 per night, double, for the fall. Among the amenities are a four-poster bed and a Jacuzzi. Room-only rates through Nov. 30 start from $214, double.

For more information, call (441) 295-1640.

Among developments at some of the island's other smaller hotels are:

• Business at the 44-unit Surf Side Beach Club in Warwick "snapped back" thanks to late bookings -- some made a day in advance -- according to general manager Bryony Harvey, but the fall outlook for the property is "slow."

As a result, Surf Side introduced value-added deals, including free breakfasts with stays of three nights and longer during September and October, and the eighth night free when seven are paid. A free daily breakfast and one free dinner will be provided during the stay.

This winter, the resort's one-bedroom suites and de-luxe rooms will be upgraded, Harvey said. The refrigerators will remain, but the kitchens will be removed in order to enlarge the bathrooms.

Agents generate 20% of the property's business, unchanged from 2001, with 80% of the guests arriving from the eastern U.S. and California, according to the hotel.

For more information, call (800) 553-9990 or visit www.surfside.bm.

• The 47-unit Ariel Sands is experiencing "a very tough" 2002, said managing director John O'Brien, but he credited the department of tourism's air fare deal with stimulating some leisure business. Late-booking patterns, which began in 2001, continued, he said.

"People are looking for a good air fare first, and then they book the rooms." O'Brien blamed relatively high air fares from North America for the slow summer, which, in turn, caused the hotel's management to discount room rates by up to 25%.

In addition, the property is requiring only four nights compared with the usual five as the minimum stay for the free companion air ticket.

Fall rates remain the same as last year, he said, starting at $469 per night, double, with full breakfast, through Oct. 31. From Nov. 1 through Nov. 30, rates become $351.75 for two, also with breakfast. The rates include tax.

Agents earn 10% pay on sales, with negotiable pay available for volume, he said, noting Gogo and TNT as among the most productive U.S. operators this year.

The hotel will be closed Jan. 3 to Feb. 1 for renovation. For details, call (800) 468-6610 or visit www.arielsands.com.

• At the 86-unit Pink Beach Club in Tucker's Town, occupancy this summer was down about 10% compared with 2001, with the period of July 7 to 15 being most affected.

The downturn was due largely to the economy, said Michael Williams, the property's managing director. "I believe we will be stronger this fall," he said, due to promotional efforts that include a consumer newsletter and contacts with agents. Williams predicted a 10% increase in occupancy this fall compared with last year.

The hotel will be closed for the season Dec. 10 through March 20. Renovations to three cottages will be completed in March. Through Nov. 15, rates are $415 per night, MAP, and from $375 with breakfast only.

For details, call (800) 355-6161 or visit www.pinkbeach.com.

• Lorri Lewis, assistant manager at the 47-unit Rosemont, credited agents with generating 20% of the property's business, with 70% of the guests coming from the U.S.

"We are one-half mile from Hamilton, so we get up to 70% corporate business, and it has held up," she said.

On the leisure side, Gogo, Magic Carpet Vacations and TNT sent agent-booked clients, Lewis said, but many leisure guests reduced their stays this year from five nights to two or three.

The hotel is offering rates of $164 per night for a gardenview room and $270 for a larger room with a harbor view, full kitchen and a Jacuzzi. The hotel lacks a dining room but will stock kitchens with food if requested in advance.

For more information, call (800) 367-0040 or visit www.rosemont.bm.

A second component of the Department of Tourism's initiative, the Compliments of Bermuda discounts, featured a $100 credit toward recreation, food and other services. The program expired Aug. 31, but an extension is tentatively planned, according to the Bermuda Department of Tourism.

The department said the program would apply to bookings made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 for travel between Nov. 15 and March 31.

For information, call (800) BERMUDA.

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