Star power promotes a renovated Ariel Sands


DEVONSHIRE, Bermuda -- The sea sprite in Shakespeare's classic play "The Tempest" was actually the namesake of the Ariel Sands Beach Club.

But these days this island resort is better known as "the Michael Douglas Hotel."

That's because the movie star and his glamorous wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, make a habit of promoting the resort whenever they get a chance.

General manager John O'Brien isn't complaining.

"They have certainly brought a great deal of awareness of Ariel Sands," he said.

"Travel agents tell us they get calls from people who want to stay in the Michael Douglas Hotel."

Douglas, Zeta-Jones and their two young children maintain a primary residence on the island.

In part, that's because Douglas' family has owned the Ariel Sands property for five generations.

His mother, Diana Dill, is part of the Dill family that owns the resort.

One of the first Bermuda cottage colonies, Ariel Sands opened on the island's South Shore in 1954.

Michael Douglas became a stockholder six years ago to help finance a major renovation of the property, according to O'Brien.

While O'Brien is proud of the resort's connection to the stars, he also pointed out that the hillside resort overlooking the Atlantic Ocean has plenty of amenities that will appeal to guests for whom star sightings aren't a vacation prerequisite.

The cottage colony, which is situated on 15 neatly trimmed acres near Devonshire Bay in the middle of the island, has spent more than $2.5 million over the past two years on renovations that O'Brien said have given it "an infusion of Bermuda's rich heritage."

The improvements include the following:

• The club house was given new hardwood floors, furnishings and wall coverings.

• A new restaurant, Aqua, has been receiving good reviews.

• A covered dining area with seating for 60 was built in place of an old sun deck.

• All of the resort's 47 guest rooms and cottages have been (or soon will be) renovated and redecorated.

Plans include the addition of new, quiet air-conditioning/heating units, plantation-style furnishings and updated baths with granite countertops and ceramic tile.

• The resort's three pools (two are fed by the ocean) and the grounds are being refurbished. (Look for the statue of Ariel near the beach.)

In addition, all of the photographs of the Dill family and Michael Douglas have been reframed.

A new photograph was added recently: a shot of O'Brien, Douglas and Zeta-Jones. The actress is holding the Academy Award she won this year for her performance in the film "Chicago."

Other improvements are planned for the resort, including a new spa with an indoor pool and a gym, and the addition of 20 junior suites and 14 condominiums.

O'Brien, who was hired two years ago to oversee the renovations, said they are all part of the Dill family's plan to "make Ariel Sands the premier beachside resort in Bermuda."

In the high season, from April 1 to Oct. 31, rates at the resort start at $300 a night, double, for an oceanview room and range up to $900 a night for a two-bedroom cottage.

A full breakfast and afternoon tea are included.

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