BERMUDA FINALLY HAS A NEW LUXURY HOTEL — and it’s about time since it has been about 40 years since a luxury resort was built on this charming island. Pickings have been slim for a long time in Bermuda but a new resort overlooking Castle Harbour has already made it to Conde Nast Traveler’s hot list and is receiving accolades (check out this month’s Andrew Harper report on Bermuda hotels). I’m referring to Tuckers Point Hotel & Spa, which opened less than a year ago on the site of the old Castle Harbour Hotel. Now a Preferred property on 240 acres, with 88 well-designed (think “classic british style”) rooms, and a scenic golf course ($215 for 18 holes per person, next to the famed Mid-Ocean Club), this welcome newcomer is a great escape for families or couples (check out the current promotion through the end of the year- stay 5 nights and get 2 nights free).
Tuckers won’t be alone in new luxury property category for long as hotel developers are slowly invading, betting on the revival of the island as a born-again hot destination. A 150-room Four Seasons on the site of the old Coral Beach Club is being developed (construction has yet to start). 9 beaches(which I have high hopes for) is undergoing an $80MM re-redevelopment with plans to open mid-2011. And, 98-room Elbow Beach, a Mandarin Oriental property, just completed a sorely needed $5.5MM refurbishment (initial reviews are mixed with thumbs up on ipod stations but thumbs down on service).
Bermuda is an ideal 90-minute flight from many East coast cities and there are some great deals on summer flights as little as $220 round-trip. Tuckers Point is booked up many weekends already this summer (rooms run $500 and up) but there are still rooms to be had. Plus, you may get to hob nob with Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones (long-time residents of Bermuda and chairs of Tucker’s Point).
Friends who recently returned from Tuckers for a quick romantic escape have this to say about the resort:
“Memories of our last visit fell short of what a beautiful island Bermuda is.
Tuckers Point is by far the best hotel/resort in Bermuda. It re-opened a year ago after major reconstruction so the common areas and rooms are fresh, scuff-free, painted soft pastels and artfully designed. We enjoyed gorgeous views of Castle Harbour and the Atlantic ocean from our corner suite with balcony located in the manor house. White-roofed villas, perfect for families, cascade down the hillside to the waters edge. The spectacular sprawling grounds are a nature-lover’s paradise. Golf, tennis (80% white tennis attire, please!) and private pink-sand beach are reachable by convenient shuttle carts for guests.”
SKIP: While The Point restaurant at the hotel boasts so-called “award-winning” Mediterranean cuisine, we found the hand-painted murals along the walls depicting historical ports of call more interesting than the food. And, gentlemen, jackets please! For dinner, we preferred the casual beachfront restaurant, being seduced by moonlight and crashing waves, and want to go back just to have another go at their rum raisin bread pudding.
The spa at the hotel was the perfect place to chill out during the mini hurricane whipping thru when we arrived. We experienced wonderful spa treatments (I recommend the coffee scrub and eye-lift treatment which really worked) and the relaxation lounges and garden sanctuary are beautiful. There’s a fitness center and a yoga and tai chi lawn.
DON’T MISS: At Harbour Beach, there is a water sports center where you can rent motorboats, kayaks, sailboats, scuba and snorkel gear. You can rent mopeds at the cycle center on site – we zipped around the island from town to town, hopped on and off the ferry, explored some points of interest and conquered the fear of crashing. Loved the adrenaline rush and the fact we survived.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LOVE: English style can feel stuffy and formal and service felt a little forced, trying too hard to please. If you weren’t paying attention your fork and plate disappeared before your last mouthful. The concierge had a condescending unfriendly attitude one day and was the most helpful person the next. His unpredictable behavior made him all the more interesting though and he will never be forgotten.
There was a lingering damp smell in some places in the hotel even though everything was new. Most sad were the smashed frogs along the roadways in the mornings, but I’m sure they made a delicious meal for the free-roaming hens, roosters and chicks that live there. And maybe even the hotel guests since frog’s legs were on the menu.
INVIATO NOTE: Tucker’s is not beach-front – the private beach is a mile + from the hotel, reachable by a shuttle that runs every 20 minutes (according to the hotel’s web site).