For a while, it looked as if the much-loved Ariel Sands resort was going to reopen after a major redevelopment project was completed in 2017. Now, no one's so sure. While it was reported that owners Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were going to be instrumental in reviving the property, the couple put it up for sale in 2018 with a price tag of $12.5 million for the 14.5-acre hotel and cottage colony.
Originally reconceived as an $85 million luxury resort, there was no guarantee that guests would have found Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones sunbathing next to them on the beach at the glamorous yet low-key Bermuda resort. Yet their taste and influence were expected to be ubiquitous. Now the future of Ariel Sands is undecided.
Bermuda is All in the Family at Ariel Sands
Michael Douglas' roots are deep here: His mother Diana Dill was born in Bermuda, where her family has lived for more than 400 years. The property has been held in Douglas’ mother’s family since the 1840s and as a child he spent summers on the balmy island.
In the 1990s, Michael Douglas joined with several Dill family partners to purchase it and poured $5 million into renovating Ariel Sands. The hotel remained in operation until 2007.
Ariel Sands: The Way It Was
In addition to his Academy Award, Douglas collected impressive accolades for Ariel Sands back then. The resort made Travel & Leisure magazine's top ten list of resorts that provided the best service in the Caribbean and Bermuda.
And just to remind visitors who was boss, the lobby lounge of Bermuda's trendy and glamorous getaway was decorated with personal black-and-white photographs of Douglas and friends (Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Jane Fonda, Kathleen Turner, and Oliver Stone among them).
The resort's 47 pale-salmon-painted cottages covered its 15 hillside acres dotted with flowers and mature landscaping. Interiors harmoniously blended traditional colonial Bermuda style with Connecticut country-club décor.
Swimmers delighted in old resort's heated freshwater swimming pool and two natural, ocean-fed lap pools (stocked with fish to delight novice snorkelers). Another perk: Ariel Sands supplied free snorkel equipment.
Tennis players had two courts, both surrounded by indigenous foliage and lit for play at night. There were also volleyball and badminton courts. And sybarites could be pampered with any number of skin and body treatments at The Spa at Ariel Sands.
Romantics were drawn to the outdoor hot tub, strategically placed for a blissful ocean view.
The Redevelopment of Ariel Sands
The reborn resort planned to offer 28 luxury suites and 26 two- and three-bedroom cottages with ocean views and easy access to the beach. According to its website (currently suspended), "The new resort will honor the spirit of the original Ariel Sands Hotel on the site while creating a private magical retreat in one of the most beautiful and relaxing places on earth."
What's New at Ariel Sands
The architects and designers were charged with preserving the unique character of the property and lush landscape that made Ariel Sands a special place for generations of visitors. Here's what guests might encounter:
- A new arrival building and clubhouse with a lounge, fine restaurant, spa, beauty salon and gym
- Restored beach and salt-water tidal pools
- Beach club with a casual, oceanfront bar/restaurant and freshwater pool overlooking the beach
- Innovative approaches to energy production and sustainability
What Will Never Change
Ariel Sands is one of a few privileged Bermuda properties that can offer guests direct access to a private, pink-tinged beach lapped by gentle waves on the island's South Shore.
And it's easy to reach Bermuda: Six hundred miles off the coast of North Carolina, the island is only an hour and a half flight from New York airports and easily reachable from other major cities.
34 South Shore Road