In the year 1505, Spanish sea captain Juan de Bermudez stumbled upon these uninhabited islands a thousand miles north of Cuba in the Atlantic Ocean. He apparently didn’t know what a paradise he had found. The surrounding reefs discouraged settlement and Bermuda, in fact, remained uninhabited until 1609 when the island was reclaimed for England after a vessel landed on its shores to keep from sinking during a hurricane. While most of the crew and passengers returned to Virginia, some of the crew were so enthralled they decided to stay.
Bermuda retains a British flavor, seasoned with multicultural influences brought to the island from Africa, the Caribbean and Portugal. The global recession affected the island’s economy but not to the point of deterring the swarms of annual tourists from invading its warm tropical climate, gorgeous beaches, and crystal clear waters.
The residents of Bermuda are as warm as the weather. They welcome cruise ships passengers and those frequenting the resorts and hotels with smiles and hospitality, making each and every guest feel right at home. They are genuinely glad for the continuing business.
There are plenty of smaller hotels for the budget minded, but if being waited on hand and foot in the lap of luxury is more in line with a vacationer’s desires, there are no shortages of pristine accommodations just waiting to swipe their platinum credit card. Here are some of the best.
In 2010, Elbow Beach received a $5.5-million renovation making it one of the most luxurious resorts in Bermuda. The resort is named after the half-mile private beach on which it sits. The pink sand beach is raked every morning, beach chairs are wiped down, water floats and rafts are set out, and a snap of the fingers will have a cold umbrella drink delivered in only minutes.
Elbow Beach comprises 50-acres of intricately manicured grounds and it is only 5 minutes away from Bermuda’s charming capital city of Hamilton. There are 98 immaculate suites, all facing the ocean, and four diverse restaurants on site, each with its own world-class head chef. Amenities include golf, tennis with five courts, three of which are lighted, snorkeling, kayaking, and other outdoor activities such as corn hole and beach volleyball. A fully equipped fitness room allows visitors to stay in shape as they are vacationing.
If hunger pangs strike at 2 A.M., in-room dining is available 24-hours a day. For the ultimate in relaxation, beachside massages with natural herbs and fragrant spices will rejuvenate the mind, spirit, and body. The resort even gives complimentary shoe shines. Celebrities and royalty visiting Bermuda appreciate the resorts privacy and that everything they could possibly need is either available on site, or the concierge will get it for them.
Fairmont Hamilton Princess
Overlooking Hamilton Harbor, Fairmont Hamilton Princess recently received a $100-million renovation. Also referred to as the “Pink Palace”, the resort is attached to a 64-berth marina and offers a private beach club, multiple swimming pools, a world-class spa, a fitness center, and gourmet dining with a taste of the islands fresh fare. The resort’s signature restaurant, Marcus, is the baby of chef Marcus Samuelsson and is known far and wide as having some of the best food on the island. Original Andy Warhol paintings decorate the walls. Another option is the Crown Anchor Bar & Restaurant which is more contemporary and offers fine dining and entertainment. The 1609 Bar and Restaurant offers international cuisine and overlooks the harbor for a wonderful, serene view.
The resort is rather large with 400 guest rooms. Accommodations range from conventional room to larger suites with a separate living room/bedroom. It should go without saying, they are all top-notch and reek of luxury. The bathrooms are made of marble and the amenities are all upscale.
The spa is 5,400 feet with eight treatment rooms, four manicure stations, two pedicure thrones, saunas, steam rooms, and a Zen room for getting in touch with one’s inner-self. The Mind-Body Gym and Studio offers Pilate, Core Fusion, Barre, and Yoga, while a fitness room is located in the poolside Yoga pavilion with cardio machines and eight workout stations.
Pontoon boats, jet skis, kayaks, paddleboards, Hobie Cats, and even Boston Whaler boats are available for rent, and parasailing gives thrill-seekers an amazing bird’s eye view of Bermuda.
Located on a 100-acre estate, Fairmont Southampton was built on Bermuda’s highest point and sits smack dab on the island’s southern shore. There are 593 immaculate rooms, all with private balconies. Views are either of the ocean, the harbor, or the golf course, but no matter which one someone ends up staring at, they are all spectacular.
The resort has indoor and outdoor swimming pools but the biggest draw is its elegantly maintained private pink sand beach. If golf is a “must do” the resort has its own 18-hole par three executive course. In addition there are 11 all-weather tennis courts and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
The resort is home to two of the very best restaurants on the island, the mahogany-walled Newport Room where guests dine on Wedgewood bone china, and the Waterlot Inn which is decorated in old-world Bermudan charm and entertains diners with live music.
Every room faces west towards the ocean so Bermudas world-renowned sunsets can be viewed from the privacy of a balcony. Though the panoramic view of the resorts private beach is to die for, so is the food being served in its four restaurants, three of which are open-air. Local dishes are prepared with creative flairs in gourmet fashion.
Entertainment in the form of live music and special happy hour events give guests a chance to mingle, and every water sport imaginable is available. La Serena Spa has eight treatment rooms with some of them being set up for dual massages. There is a sublime relaxation room for lounging indoors while watching the ocean’s blue waves from behind a wall of glass.
The Reefs is a popular location for weddings and group events because of the privacy of its location and its reputation for exceeding all expectations.
Whether Bermuda is visited in luxury, as a cruise ship passenger, or as the bulk of visitors who locate more affordable accommodations, the island should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s a world unto itself, and all who have been there are glad it is.