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My Bermuda Visit

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Dec 19th, 2005, 07:59 AM
  #1
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My Bermuda Visit

I have visited Bermuda at least annually since 1972. I love it there. It is very picturesque and clean. Of course, there have been changes and I found quite a few this year. Trimingham's, Smith's, Archie Brown's, CowPolly East, all closed. Frangipani was closed for the season. AS Cooper's is being gutted and rebuilt. Lots of new shops, mainly high end, on Front Street. No bargains, as there were years ago. It is noiser and the streets are more crowded. But it remains my favorite get away place. My DH does not like to travel, so I often go alone. I feel safe and comfortable there and find that with few exceptions I am treated well, not banished to the back as a single woman often can be in some places.
The weather was very nice. Mid to high seventies most days and lows only dropping to the sixties. I never needed a jacket, except while I was on my moped. The night of the Christmas boat parade the winds were calm and the skies very clear. It was warm and perfect for sitting outdoors on the harbor.
I love to ride a moped and hit all the beaches. With the cruise ships finished and few tourists it seems a bit easier to ride than it is during the peak times of summer. I spend most of my days out on the bike or walking on the Bermuda Railway Trail.
Prior to this visit I had not stayed at Waterloo House for about fifteen years. I am certainly glad to have returned. The hotel, which is located in Hamilton on the main road, was a private home. It is right on the harbor. I believe there are thirty two rooms for guests plus a number of marvelous common rooms. The hotel is decorated in the style of an English home. There are absolutely gorgeous gardens on site. Decorated for Christmas, this truly was a beautiful place to be. The decorations are gorgeous, unique and give a very warm feeling to the house. The hotel common rooms are very charming and well appointed. The upholstery and drapery fabrics are very high quality in lovely colors. A small game room (as in chess,not pinball) lounge off the entrance lobby offered free internet access. I had not brought a laptop with me, so I greatly appreciated this service. There is also a very pleasant library with waterviews. I found an excellent selection of books to read during my visit.
My room was an upgrade to a king room, much larger than a standard room in most hotels. It was beautifully decorated with deep rose, olive and light yellow colors. The linens were very high quality. It had a large sitting area with two beautiful chairs and a small table, a lovely desk (with notecards featuring watercolors of the hotel), three sides of windows (including an unobstructed water view) and a huge bathroom. The bathroom had a dressing area, a large whirlpool bath and heated towel racks. There was a full wall mirror, as well. The towels were Frette, thick and lovely. The bath amenities were fantastic, very nice, lightly scented French bath gel, lotion and shampoo.
A continental breakfast, which can be delivered to your room with no charge, is included in the rate. Mine was three freshly baked pastries, including a croissant which rivaled any I have ever had, orange juice, toast, marmalade/jelly, a large pot of coffee, and oatmeal. Very hardy and delicious. The breakfast if requested at eight arrived at eight, not a minute late. Tea is also included in the rate. The tea is fabulous. Scones, clotted cream, a variety of pastries and cakes, tarts, sandwiches (smoked salmon, ham, cheese) and a wide variety of teas. It is served in the downstairs lounges. I usually took mine outside to sit at water's edge.
I noticed rattling windows during high winds, but generally the hotel was very quiet. Since one of my windows faced Front Street I was surprised at how quiet it was.
The reception staff is pleasant; but, not terribly warm or friendly. The housekeepers and gardeners were all very friendly and chatty. The front desk is frequently unmanned but there is a contact number for necessities.
I enjoy having the opportunity to eat fresh Bermuda fish and this trip was no exception.
Restaurants:
Ascots: my favorite place this trip. Excellent service, first class food
Waterloo House: I had two meals here besides the tea and breakfasts. I was a bit disappointed. In the past this has always been a favorite spot. The decor and view from the restaurant is fabulous.
HogPenny Pub: The food was fine. I had a grilled yellow snapper that was very nice. It is a fun sort of place, casual dress is fine.
Frescoes: I had heard a lot about this place. It is owned by the same folks who own Aqua, one my favorites. I thought it was alright, but not wonderful. Terribly slow and uninformed service, overdressed..as in drowning in dressing..salad, gummy shrimp.
I went to La Coquille about 1230 one afternoon after visiting the Underwater Museum (a must do). There was one party seated at a table. I asked for a table and they informed me they were completely full and could not handle me. I went back by over an hour later and it was still empty. Go figure. In the past, though I love their food, I have been given a rather chilly reception.

I am already counting the days till I return. If anyone has any questions, I would be glad to try and answer them. Happy trails.....
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Dec 19th, 2005, 08:31 AM
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Oh yeah, cmcfong!
What a good, little, prompt trip reporter you are indeed, hee.
I know there were many, including myself, that were anxiously awaiting it! (And actually my snowy winter has graciously provided us a sunny morning, and the sun is warming Soph and I as I type this.)

I sat down and popped into the Carib board to see if you had posted yet, and low and behold I see, 'My Bermuda Visit' in the number 1 spot on the board, could it be yours? Yes, it is!

I am so glad you enjoyed your trip there, and wow, what a joy that it has been your loyal escape since '72, my DH & I have often thought of visiting there, but January is our best travel month due to his work, and we have previously feared it may be a bit too chilly there at that time. Did you ever visit during January? I was happy to read that your temps were in the 70's, how lovely!

We usually enjoy a resort with a nice beach. With your accommodations on the harbor, would there be any you would recommend on the beach?

I am quite certain all the regulars will appreciate your detailed information on what the business' you found closed.

I was SO impressed with your bravery (the mo-ped). I don't know that I would be quite brave enough to rent one, however my lack of bravery would be renting one for our upcoming Italy trip, perhaps Bermuda was a bit more relaxed and not quite so scary????

Soph and I send our regards this morning and our thanks for such a lovely trip report!
Tiff
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Dec 19th, 2005, 10:50 AM
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Good morning, Tiff. I am glad you found the report and enjoyed it. Rocket Dog, Catie, Jumpin'Jack Flash, Midnight and Mistaya are all inside warming themselves, too. It is pretty frigid here in the North Carolina mountains and my heart has returned to Bermuda.
January would not be a good time to visit Bermuda. While it is possible to have great days, the odds against it increase. It becomes chillier and rainier. I would recommend a visit between May and October for the best weather. The nice thing about Bermuda (well, one of millions of nice things about Bermuda) is that it is a reasonably short flight from NYC, Washington, or Philadelphia. The golf is fabulous and definitely is the number one draw. I know your DH is a golfing man. The beaches are clean, clean, clean and so pink and perfect. I love to just sit and stare at the beautiful water. For a beachfront hotel I would recommend either The Reefs or Pompano Beach. For someone on a tighter budget wanting a beachfront hotel I recommend Surfside or Marley Beach (it's pretty spartan and a little worn but the views are incredible). For a little taste of Bermuda watch "The Deep" or "Chapter Two" (parts of which were actually filmed at Marley Beach.
You are right about the mopeds, they are very dangerous. I follow a couple of basic rules, never drive one at night, in the rain or after drinking, but still they are very scary. They drive on the opposite side of the roads from the USA and there are no shoulders. Makes for some close calls . However, it does give you a chance to see the whole island chain. The good news is that Bermuda buses are clean, air conditioned, and famously on time. A very good public transportation system. I love the ferries which run through the harbor and out to Dockyards. In summer a ferry even runs to St. George.
The stores which closed will certainly be missed. As I understand all of Bermuda retail is suffering. Although there is no sales tax, many folks in Bermuda fly to the USA to buy even basics, like toothpaste, because the prices are so much lower. In the past there were goods from Europe, particularly the UK, which were great bargains, but no more. China, crystal and perfume remain available for 20-25% less than US prices. The cashmere I saw did not seem to be a bargain. Some of the stock in the shops is getting pretty dated. My favorite shops are Cecile, gorgeous clothers, and Blucks, wonderful crystal, china, etc. Pulp and Circumstance has some fun items and the Island Shop has some very cute original designs. I always buy something at the Irish Linen Shop. Their gorgeous tea towels are only about $9.00 and they make splendid gifts (plus they fit in the suitcase and never ever leak!). They have beautiful children's things and linens, but it is a pricey, pricey shop. Always fun to look!
I hope you and your husband visit there sometime. Bermuda is another world.
Have a happy holiday with your family, Tiff. Thanks for always being such a warming presence. Pat Miss Sophie for me.
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Dec 19th, 2005, 01:59 PM
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Hi cmcfong!

I just gave the lil Soph a pat for you! ((&))

I can't believe you remembered that my DH loves to golf, you have SUCH a good memory! He does indeed. Perhaps we will one day be able to sneak away in October, our anniversary month. Thanks for you tips on which months are better!

I think I have heard of Pompano Beach before in my never ending love to research destinations (ha, ha). I will look up all of your accommodation recs. Then I would have you to thank for Coeur d' Alene, The Angry Trout AND Bermuda!



Thank you for your kind words about being a warming presence, you are so dear and I feel the same way about you. Never a moment goes by when I see a sweet pup that I don't think of my cmcfong and her five babies!

Happiest of holidays for you and your family! Enjoy and relax!
Stay warm up in your mountains! Tiff
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Dec 19th, 2005, 05:20 PM
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Oh Tiff, October in Bermuda to celebrate an anniversary would be heaven. You and DH would love the romantic atmosphere, the wonderful people and the gorgeous country. Do plan to do it. If you go, I know you will love it.
Thank you for your lovely thoughts, it makes my day to read them.
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Dec 19th, 2005, 06:23 PM
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Wonderful trip report! I knew it would be a good one, because Bermuda is so lovely. I am saddened that so many of the old stores are gone. I guess change happens everywhere. I will wear my salmon colored sweater that says Smiths on the label tomorrow in memory. My mom will be sad too about the stores as this is her favorite destination and one of the few she will get on a plane for!
I am glad you had such a great trip and I always enjoy reading about Bermuda.
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Dec 19th, 2005, 06:55 PM
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Hi Girlonthego. Always nice to hear from another fan of the beautiful Bermuda. The new stores are selling Ferragamos, Jimmy Choos and the like. There may be a market for that kind of luxury goods since Bermudians are so wealthy and the economy brings in some very affluent business people. I hope so. I want that beautiful country to thrive and keep its distinct and civilized culture. I still have quite a collection of sweaters and scarves (my favorite was a navy blue silk with a map of Bermuda...always wore it when I was depressed so I could look down and see Bermuda all day long). I will miss the old, but look forward to the new. Best holiday wishes.
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Dec 20th, 2005, 09:01 AM
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Sad to see CowPolly closed as are the others.. it seems that many Bermudians are flying over to the US to do their shopping. I think personally the high end shops will be disappointed, because hotel occupancy is down and until there are lower air fares from the US it will continue to be advantageous to cruise to Bermuda. As one shop manager (they are still opened) has said the cruisers don't spent the money on crystal, antiques and china...hotel people do. the other thing that is bothering me (Read the Bermuda Gazette on-line) is the increasing rate of crime against tourists. as well as locals. Somehow or other I doubt that Bermudians think of themselves as rich. Housing is lacking, food is expensive whether for locals or tourists. I too am a BOP (Bermuda Obsessed Person) and hoping to return by cruise ship early summer
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Dec 22nd, 2005, 06:30 AM
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I want to thank you for a wonderful post.

We first started going to Bermuda in 1973,then went back in the 80's and have been going almost every year. We still love the low key Surfside Beach Club.

I have always enjoyed dining at The Waterloo House. We had an excellent lunch and dinner this past July. I have always loved the decor. I wish I could see it decorated for Chrismas. It is so lovely.

Bermuda has changed, is changing, yet in many ways it is still the same.
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Dec 22nd, 2005, 02:09 PM
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ParrotMom and Penny, like you I am Bermuda Obsessed. I love it and always will, even with the changes. Penny, you absolutely would go nuts over the Waterloo with the Christmas decorations. All very traditional styled, but still with a modern touch, there were trees in all the common rooms and the fireplaces were all blazing. Just gorgeous. Very much the holiday mood maker. I watched the Bermuda Christmas boat parade from the dining room and that was followed with a lovely fireworks display. It was so charming and romantic.
Best wishes to you both for the holidays. May the new year bring you another trip to Bermuda (OK, may it bring me one or two, too!)
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 06:57 AM
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I have been a Bermuda fan for abou 6 years and will never go anywhere else when I have an opportunity to take a vacation. Our favorit place we've stayed is the Ariel Sands. We like to be on the beach. Can you recommend other places for our next visit?
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 09:43 AM
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On the beach, Pink Beach, Cambridge Beaches, The Reefs and Pompano Beach are wonderful choices. I do like Aqua at Ariel Sands.
Bermuda is another world. Happy Travels.
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Jan 1st, 2006, 03:29 PM
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Just curious if any of you know what happened to the Lantana. We stayed there on our honeymoon in 1990 and I never see it listed anywhere. We joked that we would return for our 2oth anniversary.

What a lovely island. We visited so many nice restaurants (spent money like we were young and childless--oh that's right we were!!) and just enjoyed the place.

Five more years will be the 20th. Maybe I should start planning...
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Jan 1st, 2006, 03:53 PM
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The Lantana closed for several years and is being reopened in 2006 as a destination spa resort. http://www.bermudatourism.com/5980.htm
About ninety percent of my friends who married in Boston in the seventies honeymooned at Lantana. It was so perfect. Happy anniversary.
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Jan 1st, 2006, 06:23 PM
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cmcfong, I really enjoyed your report. The weather sounds perfect for December - something to keep in mind for next year as a holiday vacation.

On our visit last year, I had the feeling that some of these stores were getting ready to close. They were running incredible sales. I was able to pick up some pieces of Portmeirion china - glad I did as it is impossible to find my pattern in the states.

We popped into the Waterloo House on our last visit - it looked quiet charming. We had ressies for dinner one evening, but I fell ill. What was disappointing about your meal there?

Thanks for sharing your trip
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 05:18 AM
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Hi Seetheworld. I have been enjoying your Boston/NH report.
Waterloo recently changed chefs and while the food was very good, it wasn't incredible as it had been on my last few visits. I go to Bermuda about once a year and always try to have a meal or two at Waterloo regardless of where I stay. On this trip the meals there just didn't measure up to prior experience. The exception was the outstanding breakfast food. I would say Ascots served the best meal this trip. I also think Fourways is wonderful, but I just didn't get out there this time.
Glad you enjoyed my report. I love to talk about Bermuda. It is another world.
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 05:19 AM
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PS a source of Portemerion (I love it!) is Replacements in Greensboro, NC. A most amazing selection is available there.
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 11:59 AM
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cmcfong: We are considering returning to Bermuda some time next year. In the past, we have stayed at the Princess and more recently the Reefs. We enjoyed both hotels for different reasons. We will be returning with our kids (12 and 13). My brother will bring his three younger ones(4, 6, and 8 years old). We have stayed with all the kids at the Reefs, but are thinking of trying something else with more stuff to do with kids. (ex. a tv in the room is nice with kids along.). We like good food, but a meal plan is not necessary. I understand the Wyndam is not all that great. Since you have been more recently than us, can you recommend a hotel/resort to us? I am checking into: Wyndam, Elbow Beach(they have a great beach), Princess, and Pompano and the Reefs too. Price is a factor, but we all like nice accomodations and good food !! Thanks for any advice.
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 12:01 PM
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One more thing, my parents (late 60's ) will come too. They love the Reefs, but we are thinking more kid friendly is better this time. All the kids are well behaved, but if we have the only kids, we feel like we have to make sure they are extra good..
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 12:39 PM
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Sounds like a great trip, girlonthego. I don't have children so I am not the best resource for your question.

1. I,too, have heard bad things about the Wyndham but they certainly have a kid friendly beach. I did not visit the resort on my last trip.
2. Pompano is a very nice resort which uniformly earns praise on this forum. When I was in Bermuda in Dec.,Pompano was closed for renovations.
3. The Reefs is hard to beat, but you are right, it doesn't seem too child friendly.
4. Have you considered Ariel Sands? It has an oceanfront location, on site spa and an excellent house restaurant.
5. Elbow is a first rate hotel which does seem to draw a large number of families with children.

http://www.bermudagetaway.com and http://bermudarentals.com list houses for rent in BDA. A friend who recently went with a large family group said this proved to be an excellent choice for them.

Enjoy your trip. Sorry I am not able to be more helpful.

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