About 200 meeting planners and guests attended the New Spirit of Bermuda gala, November 7-10, which marked the completion of $100 million dollars in renovations and expansions at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts’ 593-room Southampton Princess and 410-room Hamilton Princess.

A luxury spa and a spacious indoor pool at the Southampton hotel, and new Fairmont Gold Rooms (top-level guest rooms, very popular with the corporate groups) at the Hamilton property top the list of improvements at these top-level resorts, which are the largest on the island.

CP Hotels, which owns the Fairmont brand, spared no expense in hosting this crowd, with an opening night beach banquet that one planner estimated cost $200 a head. Planners were able to experience many of the island’s recreational activities, as well as spa treatments at the elegant Willow Stream Spa.

The Fairmont gala was also a reflection of Bermuda Tourism’s initiatives to re-introduce Bermuda as a sophisticated, safe, nearby, foreign-but-familiar island destination with impeccable service. Several planners at the gala said they are uncomfortable bringing groups to destinations were there is highly visible poverty. That isn't the case in Bermuda, which looks like a postcard no matter where you go.

Bermuda citizens elected their first Labor Party government four years ago. The Fairmont effort was the most visible result of that party's incentives/expenditures to improve the island experience.