Escaping Winter In Balmy Bermuda
A portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth II gazes over all who pass via security at Bermuda’s LF Wade International airport, a royal welcome for visitors to Britain’s oldest overseas territory in a room that wouldn’t look out of place in an English stately manor.
The airport’s runway sits seemingly inches above the waves on reclaimed land at the north-east point of the volcanic archipelago, providing a spectacular ocean landing that puts you in mind of how earlier nautical travellers once reached these pristine shores.
Arriving on the Bermuda Islands or ‘Somers Isles’ is an experience all of its own: passing by a time-warped gateway echoing colonial days past, built with cutting-edge engineering, into a giant clubhouse where some of the wealthiest people on the planet dwell and play…
It’s an easy alternative, if you may afford it. The common cost of a house on any of the eight foremost islands is around a million dollars, and patches of coastline with out an adjoining jetty cram-filled with luxury yachts are few, although unspoilt beaches are still to be discovered.
While closer to Canada than the Caribbean (and just a 90-minute hop from New York’s JFK), Bermuda’s winter-busting climate is kept warm by the Gulf Stream. So, while the US east coast was being lashed by Superstorm Sandy, New Yorkers with money to burn had been golfing or paddling about in a pool right here, taking care to keep away from sunstroke.
Jobson’s Cove is perfect for swimmers in search of secluded paradise
Perched on limestone cliffs overlooking its own secluded beach, the family-run Reefs spa hotel provides a relaxed island welcome at the alternative finish of the ‘mainland’ from the airport (Bermuda really contains greater than 300 islands), though the switch is temporary: all the landmass being just 21 square miles.
The Reefs offers privacy and outstanding views over the pink-sand coastline beneath, formed of pulverised corals and mollusc shells. Bermudians take great delight of their distinctive rose-tinted beaches, even defying royal protocol to pay tribute to the sands in the type of a pink welcome carpet laid out for the Queen on her last go to.
My arrival on the Reefs, while minus the pink carpet, was capped off with a deftly prepared Dark ‘n’ Stormy highball, the national drink of choice mixed with ginger beer, rum and lime, accompanied by a warm sea breeze and ocean views, and dwelling feeling an eternity away.
Serving the native catch and imported steaks, the resort’s Royston’s restaurant (one of three) is a European-type grill house with an open kitchen, allowing diners to watch the chefs do their thing from the comfort of tables by Mid … the fireplace.
For a sub-tropical island, these are a common quirk in eating places and resort lobbies, only for the look. However it’s hard to imagine Bermudians huddling around one, rubbing their hands together for warmth on any day of the year…
Pampering features highly on the Reefs, and when you are not letting your afternoons drift by in the cliff-edge Infinity pool (a sweet spot at sundown), or swimming within the sea, you’ll be in and out of the hotel’s spa centre taking advantage of some seriously relaxing holistic therapies.
Take in the south shore, with a gallop on horseback!
I opted first for a lime and ginger salt glow rubdown from a smorgasbord of head-to-toe elixirs. A men’s facial at the Mandarin-operated Elbow Beach hotel down the road in Paget parish, also proved invigorating and expertly-administered in five-star surroundings.
The island is a cinch to explore on two wheels by hiring a scooter from a shop by the hotel. Soon you might be careering along coastal roads, bathed in a golden glow with the blue expanse of sea and sky at your side: a actually life-affirming experience… even if everyone else seems to have the same idea.
There appear to be more mopeds on the island than bicycles in Amsterdam. But driving on the left, along narrow roads originally built for horse carts, is probably not suited to all visitors, especially if travelling from the US and used to plentiful space.
Thankfully though, strict island rules on engine sizes mean you’ll never see a Humvee barrelling towards you, guzzling the island’s treasured gas supplies and hogging both lanes of the highway.
Though the island nation remains British, proximity to the US means there are strong connections to both sides of the pond, and a substantial number of Bermuda’s visitors are stateside residents and guests coming to enjoy the sub-tropical climate.
Local foreign money is pegged to the US dollar, which can be used interchangeably, and many Bermudians even giacca stone island prezzi speak with American accents, perhaps gained during periods of study there, as Bermuda has no universities.
Famous US residents you might see strolling along The Entrance in Hamilton may embody the billionaire New York Metropolis mayor Michael Bloomberg or actor Michael Douglas along with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones.
But many of the island’s wealthiest people are largely anonymous, profiting from its status as a leading global business centre for insurance and offshore monetary companies – which helps Bermuda’s soaring per capita earnings, among the best on the earth.
A tight network of exclusive private members’ clubs exists across the islands allowing the high rollers of this sector to interact out of sight and earshot of the frequent tourist.
One such venue, undoubtedly essentially the most lovely… and sprawling, is the Bermuda Run Country Club with its 36-hole international championship golf course. The club represents to the island what the Wentworth estate is to Virginia Water in Surrey; a non-public oasis inside one other, supposedly public, island of energy-wielding masters of the universe.
The capital of Bermuda since 1815, Hamilton is house to lots of the island’s retailers, restaurants and almost all of its night time-life (besides on Sunday nights, the place it is the Cellar on the Fairmont hotel), with its seafront promenade offering views across the new harbour, and the perfect way to stroll off a heavy lunch. Across the centre, the 350-year previous Waterlot Inn steak house is a jewel, with its steak tasting trio of Prime RibEye, Niman Ranch Filet Mignon and Wagyu Striploin coming highly advisable.
Once you’ve had your fill of scooter excursions, there are many other ways to discover the island’s scenic inside. For a extra secluded stroll, the island’s disused ‘railway tracks’ supply silent, shady trails the place the rails have long been pulled up to leave lush bridleways and footpaths.
A mile-long path in Paget resembles a veritable herbal garden, by which you can be guided by a former Miss Bermuda, Dr Kuni Frith-Black, who will explain how the huge array of flora that surrounds you is used to cook all method of dishes, in addition to to cure widespread ailments.
For horse-lovers in search of al fresco action, Spicelands Riding Centre in Warwick gives a scenic hack across the tranquil south shore, including the image-postcard Jobson’s Cove and Chaplin Bay, the place sparkling waters crash against circles of rocks to type sandy secret gardens.
Skilled riders should make sure to book a private experience if they want to gallop along the sandbanks though, or else threat an hour-lengthy plod with newbies.
Swapping the floor of Bermuda for the world beneath, the stunning Crystal Cave — found by likelihood a hundred years ago by boys looking bushes for a cricket ball — is a must.
Descending into the depths, a floating pontoon pathway carries you over deep azure swimming pools to inspect its 30-million-yr-previous chandelier clusters of pristine white stalactites and delicate crystallized soda straws, hanging majestically at every turn.
Back in the built atmosphere, at the northern tip of the tongue-twisting Ireland Island, the Royal Naval Dockyard within the 500-year-previous Keep citadel is worth a visit, although seeing massive parts of this former flagship port’s magnificent stone yards and warehouses in a state of disrepair was a bit sad.
The redevelopment of this former colonial trading outpost is a priority for the island authorities nevertheless, and a number of businesses are already setting up shop, there including craft shops and an arts centre. Lovers of the life aquatic will also enjoy the arms-on Dolphin Quest, offering dolphin swimming and training.
But the nearby Commissioner’s House in Casemate Barracks is the true success story of this neglected area’s painstaking renovation. Fully-restored to its former splendour, the building now houses an elaborate museum allowing visitors to take in the island’s rich history.
A must-see inside is Bermudian artist Graham Foster’s grand mural of the nation, Hall of History, which covers 1,000 square ft of the basement walls. Having taken the artist three years to complete, the mural truly puts you in the picture of what these unique islands are about, which once led Mark Twain to quip, somewhat more concisely: “You go to heaven… I might moderately stay here.”
Prestige Holidays provide seven nights on the Reefs for £1817 pp based mostly on 2 adults staying in a poolside room on mattress and breakfast departing on 9 April 2013 including: return flights with British Airways from Gatwick to Bermuda and personal transfers. For reservations go to Prestige Holidays.
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