HAMILTON PARISH, Bermuda -- Underground caves and scenic ocean
views have enticed visitors to Grotto Bay Beach Resort since the
1970s. But the resort wasn't known for being particularly
Bermudian. Its low-rise buildings were beige and generic, the kind
you'd find almost anywhere.
When a group of Bermudian investors bought the resort about a
decade ago, they quickly decided that had to change.
Their vision -- to transform the ho-hum compound into a place
with the look and feel of this English-style tropical island -- is
now a reality.
With the completion last spring of more than $7 million in
renovations, the resort is one with its environment, said J.P.
Martens, general manager.
Guest lodges have gables, shutters and furnishings reflecting
the British colonial era.
The Great House, which has quadrupled in size, has a new
reception area, a casual dining room and two patios offering
expansive views of the ocean. Warm, pastel colors welcome visitors
throughout the resort.
"The results are truly stunning," said Martens. "We now look
more like a traditional Bermuda cottage-colony, but we have all the
amenities -- dive shop, tennis courts, restaurants -- you'd expect
in a larger, full-service vacation retreat."
Martens gives much of the credit for the resort's new appearance
to West Palm Beach, Fla., designer Sam Rosenberg.
"Bermuda has its own style, and Sam brought it to the property
in exteriors and interiors that let guests know that they have
truly arrived on this unique island," said Martens.
Grotto Bay, a 201-room resort on 21 acres about a mile from the
airport, has been a challenging but satisfying project, Rosenberg
Rosenberg's charge from the owners was to make the
contemporary-style resort look more like traditional Bermuda, and
at the same time upgrade the facility in an opulent fashion to
appeal to worldly travelers.
"English traditions can be charming, but they can also be
stuffy," he said. "Our plan was to infuse the colonial style with
an eclectic, international flavor."
Pillars and gables
The redo, which began in 1995, started at the beach and pool,
where a restaurant was added along with exercise rooms, a bar and
Rosenberg tackled the guest lodges and the main buildings next.
To give the three-story, concrete-block structures more character,
gables and shutters were installed.
Pillars and other architectural details common in Bermuda also
were added to the exterior of the resort's buildings, some of which
were painted pink to match the island's beaches.
Inside the guest rooms, pedestal sinks, travertine marble,
tropical prints and floral bedspreads replaced the bland, modern
interiors. Rosenberg also designed colonial-style furniture
specifically for the resort.
A second story was added to the Great House along with a
restaurant and conference area.
Resort for all seasons
In the lobby, a wall of windows showcases ocean views. Outside
dining areas, patios and lounges now beckon guests to relax, read a
book or have a drink or a meal.
To help extend the season, several outdoor and indoor fireplaces
also were added. Bermuda has more competition these days from
warmer islands farther south, Rosenberg said. One of the resort's
goals was to create an atmosphere that will appeal to guests in the
winter as well as summer.
At the same time the renovations were under way, the resort was
upgrading its service, Martens said. An outside firm that
specializes in resort hotels was brought in to train the staff.
"We realized that just making the resort look pretty would not
cut the cake," Martens said.
Last year, the resort received the Buttery Award from the
Bermuda Department of Tourism for consistently high standards in
Bigger and better
Now that the renovations are complete, the resort's next project
is to add 70 rooms to the complex. The rooms will be larger -- more
like apartments and suites than hotel rooms -- so they can
accommodate guests who plan to stay a month or more. The expansion,
expected to cost several million dollars, should begin next year,
Martens said the resort's owners are optimistic about the
future, despite recent economic difficulties around the world.
"We've had some of our best years recently. Repeat bookings and
new business are positive," he said. "The renovation is a big part
of the reason."
Grotto Bay has 198 hotel rooms and three suites in 11 lodges.
Rooms have a balcony or a patio, with an ocean view.
The resort also has two restaurants and bars, a pool, a health
club and tennis courts.
Rates vary, and all-inclusive packages are available. To Oct.
20, rates are $270 to $300 a night, single or double. Inclusive
rates are $255 to $265 per person, per night, double, for a minimum
three-night stay. Nightly low-season rates are $135 to $185, single
or double. The resort pays 10% commission.
For more information, call (800) 582-3190 or visit www.grottobaybeach.com.
Resort escapes Fabian's wrath
HAMILTON PARISH -- The Grotto Bay Beach Resort is open for
business following Hurricane Fabian's Sept. 5 assault on the
Although several hotel properties reported extensive damage,
Grotto Bay had little damage and remained open and operational even
during the height of the storm, with no interruptions in power or
The property is located on Bermuda's north shore; most of the
major damage was sustained on the south coast. The resort had 70
guests in house when the island began battening down the hatches in
advance of Fabian's arrival.
The property is open year-round; guests who were unable to reach
Bermuda because of canceled flights and services are being
accommodated at later dates.