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Long before Bermuda's tourism heyday, when only British aristocrats, Hollywood stars, and blue bloods from America's East Coast could afford to come to the island and disappear for a while, Bermuda's would-be hoteliers were sowing the seeds of one of the island's most important future economy bases. The beautiful people, with their well-lined pockets, were transforming Bermuda into a chic getaway destination, and this exclusive clientele would want seclusion, colonial sophistication, and traditional Bermudian hospitality. And so the cottage colony was born: a purpose-built resort that left no comfort unexplored, no luxury ignored—a plush home-away-from-home for those who could afford it.
The Bermuda Department of Tourism recognizes nine properties as cottage colonies: 9 Beaches, Ariel Sands (which is currently closed as it converts to a Hilton), Cambridge Beaches, Fourways Inn, Horizons & Cottages, Mid Ocean Golf Club, Pink Beach Club, the St. George's Club, and Willowbank. Despite the tourism department's demarcation, you might well be baffled by the island's numerous lodgings that have the word cottage in their names or descriptions, and that's before realizing that there are even more cottages (often private homes) that have been converted into lodgings, and which might not have the word cottage in their title.
Confused? The definitive line over what does and does not qualify to earn the title continues to blur, but generally speaking it describes a purpose-built beachfront collection of Bermudian cottages, separated from a main building that often houses the front desk, restaurants, bars, and lounge areas. Often, twisting walkways connect the cottages to the main building and lead down to the beach, over to the tennis courts, and elsewhere on the property. Many of the cottages are pink (Bermuda's trademark color) or other pastel shades, and most have either stunning water views or lush, tropical garden settings. Traditionally, the cottages have Bermudian white stair-step roofs, terraces or balconies, cedar-beamed ceilings and furniture, and British country-style fabrics and ornaments. Newer complexes, however, may have much larger cottages of more modern design, divided into suites, or they may have attached apartments. Some may not even have kitchens—a staple of the traditional cottages.
Whatever a cottage colony is, it certainly isn't basic or budget. Bermuda's homegrown accommodations are some of the island's most exceptional—and expensive—and while many offer a unique holiday experience, they won't suit everyone. The emphasis is on peace and quiet, and they provide this admirably. Entertainment, children's programs, and other activities are not emphasized in many complexes, so they may not be ideal for those seeking a lively, fun-packed vacation.
Although the concept and reality of cottage colonies continues to evolve, the unabashed romance of these magical oases is alive and well. The pursuit of authentic Bermudian living, with a distinct British colonial tradition, still remains to transport guests into gracious lifestyle rather than simply a hotel room.
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