The new owners of the only watersports centre in Dockyard are bracing themselves for a bumper summer.
Simon Weare, general manager one of three partners who took over the decades-old Fantasea just over a year ago, said the new management had invested in extra equipment and enlarged and improved its charter boat fleet in the run up to the America’s Cup, which will be held in the waters around the former Royal Navy base in May and June, in addition to the normal tourist high season.
Mr Weare, a former partner in Air Care, decided to take to the water after the firm was bought by utilities company Ascendant.
He said: “It was shortly after the America’s Cup was announced, so it seemed a good time.
“It’s a complete new venture for me — but I’m Bermudian and I’ve been on boats all my life and I was in marine moorings before.”
Mr Weare added: “We had a successful season last year and we have 22 Bermudian staff during the summer and two or three work permit holders.”
Fantasea, which has been operating for two decades, is based in the heart of Dockyard, with its diving centre in Snorkel Park and a kayaking centre at the former Willowbank hotel in Sandys.
Mr Weare said: “The America’s Cup is huge for us. We’ve brought in another boat so we can facilitate our cruise ship tours and still have specific boats to watch the America’s Cup.”
He added: “We’d like to thank the Bermuda Government and the America’s Cup for creating such a great opportunity for us.”
Mr Weare said that cup fever had already driven an increase in visitors to the West End.
“There are a lot of people just coming to check things out. It’s created a buzz in Dockyard and around Dockyard services.”
And he added that Fantasea’s charter yachts were filling up so fast, the company was preparing to put more hulls in the water to satisfy demand. Since taking over the business at the end of 2015, the new team, which also includes Steven Davis and Spencer Wood, has introduced turtle tours to capitalise on the increasing turtle population in the island’s waters.
In addition, Fantasea has added to its boat rental fleet, doubled the number of scuba diving tanks, and brought in more kayaks and pushbikes for the firm’s land tours.
“When we took over, there were some upgrades that needed to be made and we got some new blood in.”
The company’s flagship charter boat Sun Deck II, which has already undergone an internal refit with a new and bigger bar, is currently out of the water for routine maintenance and “sprucing up” in preparation for the America’s Cup.
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