By Paula Conway
Bermuda has long been a favorite of East Coasters in need of a quick escape to a tropical paradise, but if there was ever one thing about Bermuda’s turquoise waters, coral reefs and impeccable British hospitality that made it undesirable, it was the price of admission. With airfares around $600 roundtrip and hotel prices starting at $290/night, few could afford the Bermuda vacation. As of recently, however, Bermuda takes on a whole new hue. The little known USA3000Airlines, based in Pennsylvania, offers flights from Newark for as low as $79 each way. New Yorkers can celebrate the perfect weather with the perfect price tag.
Once you’ve arrived on the island, make your way to The Reefs in Southampton Parish. The pink lanais of this small, yet elegant resort, careens out from the Cliffside over Christian Bay and offers some of Bermuda’s most spectacular ocean views. The hotel provides a feeling of elegance while maintaining decade-old traditions set down by a very regular clientele of repeat guests who, for example, prefer a more upscale dress during dining hours and are eager to introduce themselves and share tales of years returning to The Reefs. With the pace slowing in Bermuda considerably during off season, and since the climate sees very little in extreme temperatures, you can get some wonderful off-season rates to compliment the USA3000 Airlines airfare.
If you have just a few days, take the bus into Hamilton and explore the city’s cultural offerings: watch Parliament in session or visit the grand City Hall, which is also home to two major art galleries. The soaring Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, seat of the Anglican Church of Bermuda, is in Hamilton, as is Fort Hamilton and a colorful Front Street for shopping and dining. Walk over to the Fairmont Hamilton Princess where the saying “One lump or two…?” is a civilized question, and one heard frequently in the lobby of The Fairmont Hamilton Princess in Bermuda, during Afternoon Tea. Everything featured is homemade in the Hamilton Princess pastry shop by Pastry Chef, Serge Leibowitzh. The tea selection for Afternoon Tea was made by John Harney, Master Tea Blender and also varies according to the season. The fun thing about this tea is that, like wine, a different tea can be selected for each course.
Make your way to the Royal Naval Dockyard on the West End to walk off those pastries and absorb some of the island’s history and culture. While in the Dockyard, tour the Commissioner’s House to learn about Bermuda’s naval history and visit the dolphins in the keep of the Maratime Museum.
Another great way to see Bermuda is to rent a bicycle or scooter. There are many rental companies within reach, so selection is never a problem. But beware, while scooters provide fun and easy access to Bermuda, they can be dangerous, particularly if you are not familiar with driving on the wrong side of the street.
History buffs may want to spend more time at Verdmont House, the Museum of the Bermuda Historical Society, the Bermuda National Trust Museum at the Globe Hotel and the Bermudian Heritage Museum. Sun seekers will enjoy the hundreds of beaches to choose from, but the best way to enjoy the beach is to choose one and stay put. Horseshoe Bay beach has everything you might expect from a Bermudian beach: clear water, a crescent of pink sand, a vibrant social scene and the uncluttered backdrop of the South Shore Park. It is one of the island’s most popular, which can make it quite crowded, but it’s a great scene and offers many opportunities for entertaining children.
Whatever your taste (and now budget), Bermuda is waiting just a short plane ride away, and is for all intents and purposes synonymous with gorgeous scenery, excellent golf and an intriguing colonial history. So, what’s stopping you?