Vacation Deprivation: Chances are you or someone you know is suffering from it right now. According to a 2012 survey by Expedia, Americans earn fewer vacation days than people in most countries, but still leave 2 days unused on average. One of the top reasons cited for skipping vacation is "have to schedule too far out." The most sought-after vacation by category is "beach holiday."
So... We want to enjoy sand and surf but we don't want to make long-range plans. Consequently, many of us wind up forgoing nearly 20 percent of our meager vacation allowance (10 to 12 days on average, as compared to much of Europe's 25 to 30 days). Well, I recently visited the destination that could single-handedly defeat Vacation Deprivation for nearly everyone in the northeastern US—Bermuda.
So Near, Yet So Near
Bermuda is less than a 2-hour flight from most major airports on the East Coast— not the most impressive statistic on its own (I expect to get somewhere nice when I bother to get on a plane). But once I arrived, the quick, easy transport to an international destination instantly became meaningful. Throughout my three-day stay on this subtropical (an important distinction, which I'll get to), low-key British island, I was continually amazed at how close to New York I was. In fact, there was a shared incredulity among all the northeast travel journalists with whom I journeyed. Each rum swizzled, coral-flecked handful of sand sifted, and blue-saturated harbor surveyed became mounting evidence that I had completely overlooked Bermuda as a beautiful, convenient beach getaway. All around me the superior Bermuda experience practically mocked my purported expertise with pink-sand beaches, pastel houses, and historic communities. Who knew!?
You might say "the ultra-rich, that's who." NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a fixture on the island, frequently seen dining in Rustico. Numerous multimillion-dollar mansions, including the home of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, overlook boatyards filled with luxurious yachts. No, Bermuda is not a budget destination. Many resorts are more than $350 per night, simple fare like a burger and fries can cost $25 at the most casual of restaurants, and shopping is high-quality and high-priced. But you don't have break the bank—the second most cited reason for Vacation Deprivation—to enjoy a wonderful weekend here.
You can shave up to 40 percent off your hotel bill by going in the low or shoulder seasons. Bermuda is in a subtropical climate zone in the Atlantic. It's kept warm in winter by the Gulf Stream, and in the summer it's more comfortable than the tropical islands of the Caribbean. Temperatures rarely dip below 60 degrees F in winter, so the low season (Nov. -Mar.) is ideal for tennis, golf, shopping, and strolling on the beach.
Furnished apartment and villa rentals provide substantial savings year-round, as well as a home-base roomy enough for a family. BermudaGetaway lists a selection of high-standard properties.
Transportation costs on Bermuda are very affordable, thanks to an efficient public transportation system that's cheap and easy to use. Car rental is not only unnecessary, it's not possible. There are no rental agencies on the island. From tip to tip the island is covered by three main bus routes. Buses run about every 15 minutes. A more scenic, leisurely way to explore the island is by ferry. The Bermuda Ministry of Transport maintains frequent and on-time ferry service throughout the island.
Then there's the convenience factor. Flights from the East Coast are plentiful and relatively affordable. Year-round airfare averages about $350. You'll often spend double the amount of time and money getting to comparable Caribbean islands. Accommodations fill up in high season (late May-Sep.), but Bermuda is a land of cottage colonies, cliff-top apartments, and beachfront resort hotels. Hidden along small parish roads, you can also find family-run, flower-filled guesthouses and simple, inexpensive efficiencies. There are enough accommodations to ensure that even last-minute planners will find the room of their choice.
Finally, when you consider the healthful value of turning two days of Vacation Deprivation into Vacation Restoration, a weekend in Bermuda is an investment that gives new meaning to the term "peace dividends".
Stay. Enjoy the amenities of two of Bermuda's premier resorts by staying at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess or Fairmont Southampton Resort. A free ferry between the two properties allows guest to explore the extensive amenities of both properties.
Photo credits: Fairmont Hamilton Princess courtesy of Fairmont Hamilton Princess; other photos courtesy of Eric Wechter