Fairmont Hamilton Princess leaves storm in past

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HAMILTON, Bermuda -- The grande dame of Bermuda hotels, the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, has seen just about everything since opening in 1885: wars; economic booms and recessions; and more than a few tropical storms.

That probably explains why Paul Tormey, the hotel's general manager, prefers to talk about the present and not Hurricane Fabian, which swept across the island last month.

"It's past. We're open for business, and Bermuda is as beautiful as ever," Tormey said. "Our guests can do everything they did before -- play golf and tennis, rent a Jet Ski, swim in the pools, go to the beaches."

Located on the northern side of the island, the venerable Princess escaped the worst of Fabian's wrath, which Tormey attributed to the hotel's in-town location.

A few rooms in each of the hotel's four wings experienced water damage, but Tormey said 90% of the hotel's 410 guest rooms are or will be operational by Nov. 1.

The Fairmont Hamilton Princess escaped the worst of Hurricane Fabian's wrath. Ninety percent of the hotel's rooms are or will be operational by Nov. 1. High winds also tousled the hotel's manicured landscape. Still, the impact was minimal, particularly when compared with that suffered by its sister hotel on the south shore, the Fairmont Southampton. The Southampton has been closed since the storm; it's expected to reopen in spring 2004.

The ferry that shuttles guests to the Southampton is not operating; guests are being referred to other beaches and golf courses.

Tormey said guests will notice few differences at the Princess and in Hamilton.

"Everyone has done an excellent job cleaning up and making repairs," he said. "The hurricane put a little dent in the island, that's all. There's no reason for anyone to stay away."

Tormey said he doesn't expect the hurricane to impact occupancy at the Princess. "Guests have been booking on a very short-term basis," he said. "I don't see that changing."

Now the oldest member of the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts family, the Princess recently underwent extensive renovations, which cost more than $25 million and were completed last year.

The lobby was redesigned in the style of a traditional Georgian estate in England, with high ceilings, arched doorways, marble floors and a stone fireplace.

Fairmont also redecorated meetings rooms and upgraded guest rooms.

"We're very proud of our renovations and pleased there was little impact from the storm," Tormey said.

Dining venues include Harley's restaurant, which offers alfresco dining with harbor views. The Heritage Court is popular with guests and locals.

The Fairmont Princess also has an outdoor heated pool and a saltwater pool as well as a fitness center.

Meetings space at the hotel totals 16,000 square feet in five rooms for groups of up to 300. The hotel's new ballroom has an adjacent outdoor terrace overlooking the harbor.

Also new is a 750-square-foot executive boardroom. A business center with audiovisual equipment, staging and meetings support services are available, as well.

Through Dec. 15., rates are $199 to $449 per night, double, and $499 to $549 in Gold Wing rooms.

From Dec. 16 to Dec. 31, rates are $229 to $389 per night, double, and $439 to $489 in Gold Wing rooms.

The hotel also offers a three-night Romance package, starting at $515 per person, double, that includes daily breakfast and spa treatments. The package is subject to availability, and commission is 10%.

For more information, call (800) 441-1414 or visit www.fairmont.com.

To contact the reporter who wrote this story, send e-mail to [email protected] .

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