A return to Bermuda.

Jan 3rd, 2010, 07:46 AM
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A return to Bermuda.

Who we are: My brother and I visited Bermuda the second week in December. It was his first trip, for me probably the fiftieth or so.
Our mother died this past summer. She and I had often visited Bermuda together . She encouraged my brother, an avid birder and walker, to go. We got a small refund of a prepaid policy which I suggested he use for airfare. My husband and I gave him the rest of the trip as his Christmas present. He told me several times how special the trip was because it was a gift from Mom and us. We had many conversations about our parents on the trip and it eased the ache of this first Christmas without either of them.

Where we stayed: We stayed at Fourways Inn on Middle Road. I am very partial to this property and have stayed here about ten times. It is small, quiet and has a very charming ambiance. The public rooms are gorgeous, very old Bermuda. We were upgraded to a two room suite with private patio overlooking the pool and gardens. Breakfast, included in the rate delivered to the room, is a generous pot of coffee or tea, fresh fruit (melons, grapes, pineapple) and six pastries (croissants, muffins, and sweet rolls). The on site restaurant is one of the best on Bermuda. I posted a full review on T/A.

Fourways is an easy walk from the grocery store (handy as rooms have microwaves and fridge), the bus stop, the ferry stop (Darryl's Wharf) and the Bermuda Railway Trail. The beach is about a twenty minute walk from the hotel. Beach privileges are at Coco Reef Hotel.

Holiday bargain: Fourways was $125 per night plus tax and service, sixth night free except for service charge. This made it a better buy than the sale at the Fairmont with service, resort fee, and tax added to the $99 base rate.

Transportation: I rented my bike from Mrs. Thomas at Elbow Beach Cycles. Although I have been riding for well over forty years, I find her refresher safety course helpful and very thorough. Riding the bikes today is not what it was years ago. Traffic is much more congested and faster. Many people, particularly visitors are injured or killed on Bermuda roads. There is no shoulder on most roads and those walls are quite unforgiving.
Mrs.Thomas is very professional. She or one of her staff will pick you up at your hotel. The bikes are in very good condition and she test drives the individual bike she rents to you. Her prices are competitive with the larger operations like Oleander.

My brother preferred not to ride a bike. He and I bought transportation passes (these can be purchased at the main terminals in Hamilton or any post office and are a bargain) . We took the ferries primarily but did use the bus a couple of times when it was raining (I do not like to ride my bike at night or in the rain, so I rely on the super public transportation system Bermuda offers for those times). We also enjoyed many long walks along the Bermuda Railway Trail.

Where we ate:

I think the best meals I had were at Fourways, Splendido at Horizons and the Tamarisk Room at Cambridge Beaches. All three were really exceptional. Ascots is an old favorite of mine as well. The meal there was very good and the service was excellent; but, it seemed to be a bit more expensive than some of the other options. Blu is also quite good. I missed it my last visit, so was glad to be able to be accommodated this trip. The HogPenny which I have enjoyed for years was not really up to snuff. Service was fine but the food was pretty bland. We tried Mad Hatters, which I had heard a good deal about. It is fine but the menu is overly ambitious. There must have been fifteen specials on for the night. Service was slow and not very polished. I thought the food was fairly ordinary. I posted reviews on T/A.

Spa: I went to Cambridge Beaches Ocean Spa. I have tried a number of spas in Bermuda and I like this one best. It is quiet and the service staff are very professional. The setting is lovely. I highly recommend calling to inquire if there are specials being offered.

Bermuda Passport: This is a complimentary discount coupon booklet offered by a number of hotels off season. It is comprehensive and worth checking into if your hotel offers it. It had spa, shop, restaurant and cycle discounts.

Highlight of the week: The Bermuda Holiday Boat Parade. I think almost eighty boats were entered. It was great fun and the fireworks were fabulous. I plan my December visits particularly so I can attend the boat parade. It was a big disappointment to have it canceled last year.

Why I go off season: Although it is off season, the weather is generally quite pleasant, perfect for long walks on the beaches (which are virtually empty!). The Goodwill golf tournament was held the week we were there (seeing one of the teams in identical kakhi pants and black polos with the words "Be Original" emblazoned on their hats gave my brother and me a good laugh). The night of the boat parade temps were in the high sixties. I had on a light jacket and was comfortable. I will note that most Bermudians were in parkas and Uggs, but to me the weather was fine. The rates are dramatically lower than in high season. Bermuda has had a serious dip in tourism. If you are considering going, call the property in which you are interested. Many are offering deep discounts. Bermudians take holidays seriously. There are parties, decorations and holiday spirit overflows. If you get stressed by the holidays go to Bermuda where no demands are made on you except to have fun. It was great!

Bermuda is changing and like most old fogies I hate some of the change. There were a number of reports about the increase in violent crime. Three gang related homicides in December alone! I was repeatedly warned against walking alone in the evening. Litter which used to be very uncommon, is noticeable. The drivers on bikes seem to be trying to intimidate or scare other drivers. I think I was the only driver doing the speed limit, the bikes are very fast. One thing which really struck me was the noise from car radios. I guess the saddest thing was seeing the Waterloo House as it is being torn down. I stayed there many times and I hate to see it go.

But change is inevitable and I hope that some of the new construction and businesses will help Bermuda thrive as tourism declines. I for one will be back, time just gets away from me in Bermuda. I go with the best of intentions to do all sorts of things but it always seems the morning I leave I still have most of them to do! It is another world.

Best wishes for the new year.
cmcfong is offline  
Jan 4th, 2010, 08:54 AM
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thanks cmcfong for a wonderful report. Am surprised by the litter comment - when we visited back in 2007, I thought it was one of the cleanest and most manicured island we have visited so far. I guess things have changed since then.
mnag is offline  
Jan 4th, 2010, 09:57 AM
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It is a huge disappointment to me as well, mnag, to see so much litter in Bermuda. One thing which always distinguished the island was how very clean it was. It is still vastly better on that score than many of the islands.
Thank you for taking time to read my report. It is still my favorite island in the sun.
cmcfong is offline  
Jan 4th, 2010, 12:37 PM
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Hi cm, we've "chatted" in the past about one of my favorite places on earth, Bermuda, and I too was a little disappointed when I returned with my oldest daughter for a quick getaway in August. Couldn't figure out if it was my experience at the Fairmount Southampton...not terrific this time around, or the extra security we experienced in the evening as we ventured out and about, which sadly is becoming very common on all caribbean islands. Bermuda will always hold a place in my heart and the people were very polite, friendly and welcoming...for me the island is still by far one of the most beautiful places on earth! It sounds as if you had a wonderful time...boy would I love to go away in December...need it now after the holiday's!

Happy New Year,
albee622 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2010, 01:10 PM
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Hi albee. It is wonderful there and I am already planning my next visit...but the warnings were a bit chilling. I appreciate that innkeepers are worried about guests being harmed or suffering a property loss and certainly understand their need to provide the warnings. As one of my Bermudian friends told me "we may be six hundred miles out in the ocean, but we are susceptible to the same problems and worries of the rest of the world."

Thank you for taking the time to read my report. I highly recommend a December visit!!
cmcfong is offline  
Jan 4th, 2010, 04:07 PM
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Bravo !!!! ( can you hear me clapping?) .. wonderful report. It's so so wonderful that you were able to have this trip with your brother. I'm sure the conversations about your parents were very special. I'm glad you shared this time .

It all sounds magical!! It really does make me want to return. I, too, have special memories there.

I know you are not an old fogie!! but it is sad to see things change and not for the good. It's sad taht it is not as clean as it once was.

But still, a place to return to!!
Thanks for the great report.
kodi is offline  
Jan 4th, 2010, 06:02 PM
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Why thank you so much, Kodi. How nice of you! You make me feel a bit less invisible today.

Go back, it is wonderful.
cmcfong is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 05:29 AM
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Thanks for the report cmcfong.
I hope to get to Bermuda one day as it's such a short flight from Boston. Although the off season appeals I think that warmer weather might be better for a first visit. Would you agree? I love swimming and would find the ocean hard to resist!
sassy_cat is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 05:58 AM
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sassy_cat, I think you are right, summer is probably best for you. If you go after August there is some risk of hurricanes, but the water remains very warm well into October and the crowds are much fewer. There are so many great fares from BOS and it is such a short flight, it is the ideal destination for you. My first trip there was on a spring break from school in BOS...love at first sight!
cmcfong is offline  
Mar 12th, 2010, 03:52 AM
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topping for bellapink
cmcfong is offline  
Apr 1st, 2010, 02:27 PM
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cmcfong-not sure you're still following up, but if you are I would love some advice. My husband and I have been to Bermuda five times and obviously love it. The last time we were there was over 9/11. Can you imagine? It was very bazarre. Anyway, we are returning for the first time since then with my sister and her husband and another couple for a 50th birthday celebration. We are wanting to eat one extra nice meal out for her birthday night. Based on previous experience I would suggest the Fourways. Do you think this is still one of the best. We will dine at Cambridge (our honeymoone spot) and can't even remember the place we are staying but they have a wonderful rest. also. Just needing some current advice. If you were to pick one night splurge, where would it be? (Saw something about Mad Hatter but it sounds a little more casual, but the menu looked interesting??) Thanks. Lisa
LHarbar is offline  
Apr 1st, 2010, 05:16 PM
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Hi Lisa, Happy birthday..what a great way to celebrate. I love Fourways and have never had anything short of an outstanding meal there. I am not a fan of Mad Hatters, but txgirlinbda loves it. She goes frequently and gives it very high marks. I have only been once so I don't think I am a reliable reviewer. There is a lot of variety in their menu and they feature a number of specials daily.
I like Ascots at the Royal Palms, Beau Rivage at Newstead, Blu at Belmont Hills and the dining rooms at Pompano and the Reefs. I usually go to Cambridge Beaches at least once every visit and I have always found the food excellent. I love their spa (very small and personalized) if you are considering any spa treatments.
I have been in Bermuda twice during hurricanes. Their spirit and attitude really is wonderful to witness. I am sure they were kind and supportive 9/11. It must have been a very unique perspective.
Welcome back, it is another world.
cmcfong is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 06:01 PM
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Thank you so much for your input. I believe we will stay the course and make Fourways our big night out, sounds like it must still be great. Yes, it was a very strange experience being there during 9/11. I will never forget the feeling, we were at Horizons and the whole community became instant friends as we were all stranded trying to get home. We cannot wait to get back, it's been too long.
LHarbar is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 07:02 PM
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Be sure to try Splendido at Horizons while you are there. The lobster club was the sandwich God designed.

Have a wonderful time and enjoy the visit.
cmcfong is offline  
Apr 25th, 2010, 07:18 AM
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Hi! It seems that you REALLY know Bermuda and love it! We are taking the Norwegian Dawn to Kings Wharf soon and would love to know if it will be easy for us to walk or take public transportation to Historic St. George and Hamilton, Front Street. Any tips on how to purchase coupon booklets that are NOT available on the ship? Thank YOU!!! S G
mrsgo is offline  
Apr 25th, 2010, 08:22 AM
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I love Bermuda, but there are several folks who can help you with planning your trip, especially our resident expert, txgrlinbda.

You won't be able to walk to either Hamilton or St. George from the dock; but, public transportation will be a piece of cake. You will be docked at the Royal Naval Dockyard on the far west end of Bermuda where there is a booth to handle transportation passes. The pass entitles you to use either the ferry (my personal favorite way to travel in BDA) or the buses, which run frequently. Stops for each are very convenient to your dock.

A short walk will get you to the Clock Tower shops. There are a number of fliers in a case just in front of Beethoven's restaurant. Many of the fliers contain coupons for discounts at area attractions, restaurants and shops. Sorry, I don't know anything about buying coupon books.

Have a wonderful time. Bermuda is another world.
cmcfong is offline  
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