LIFE&STYLE

Bermuda’s gentle beauty, easygoing lifestyle makes being shipwrecked enticing

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jul 29, 2016 - 13:06
  • Updated : Jul 29, 2016 - 13:06
HAMILTON, Bermuda — This small island — only 55 square kilometers in size and 1,000 kilometers off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina — gave the world its eponymous shorts (still used as part of the island uniform), onions (still used in island cuisine), and grass (still used on the island’s ubiquitous golf courses).

Bermuda has earned literary cred as well. An early chronicler of its infamous Triangle, William Shakespeare used it as the shipwreck setting for his play “The Tempest,” making it the only New World location the Bard ever cited by name.

While Prospero, Miranda, Caliban and Ariel had their share of difficulties, today, Bermuda’s gentle beauty and easygoing lifestyle lure those who wouldn’t mind being shipwrecked on its shores.

It’s no wonder. Luminous turquoise waters lap shell-pink sand beaches; frangipani perfumes the air, and pastel colored houses snuggle behind winding hedgerow-bordered roads with names such as Happy Talk Lane and Pie Crust Place.

It boasts the world’s smallest drawbridge — opening a mere 50 centimeters, and a signature drink — the Dark and Stormy, a heady concoction of ginger beer and rum. It has no rental cars (mopeds being the preferred method of transportation), no skyscrapers and no sense that life should be lived at other than a leisurely and enjoyable pace.

How could you fail to love a place like this?

The answer is — you can’t, as demonstrated by the fact that of all the world’s resort islands, Bermuda allegedly enjoys the highest rate of return visitors.

Little Britain on this side of the pond

For those who suffer from Anglophilia, it’s comforting to know that you don’t have to travel across the Atlantic to get your Britain fix. Bermuda is arguably the most British of all the Commonwealth nations.

An aerial view of Bermuda, where luminous turquoise waters lap shell-pink sand beaches, frangipani perfumes the air, and pastel colored houses snuggle behind winding hedgerow-bordered roads. (Bermuda Tourism Authority/TNS)

When Adm. George Somers first arrived here in 1609, it was by mistake; he was actually headed for the Virginia Colony when he was shipwrecked. Not being one to miss a good opportunity, he did what the Brits always did upon discovering a new place — he claimed it for the Crown.

St. Peter’s Church in St. George Parish, the oldest Anglican Church in continuous use outside the British Isles, possesses a set of communion silver that was a gift from King William III.

A top island attraction is the Dockyards, former headquarters of the British Navy, now a collection of fashionable restaurants, pubs and shops, the latter stocked with British imports, meaning you can get cashmere, tweeds and Wedgewood china, although don’t expect bargain prices.

Another visitor favorite is Fort Hamilton, overlooking its namesake harbor. Built by the British to protect the harbor from a possible American invasion, it has the usual features — guns on the ramparts and underground passages, plus a couple of unusual (and veddy British) features — lovely gardens and concerts by the Bermuda Isles Pipe Band.

If you think you have to go to Scotland for the world’s best golf, consider this: Bermuda has more golf courses per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world, and not a single one has anything to do with Donald Trump.

Your hotel can probably make an introduction to these state-of-the-art courses, including Riddle’s Bay, the oldest and most picturesque, and the ultra-chic Ocean Club, considered the finest, especially the legendary fifth hole.

Finally, don’t even think about skipping high tea, observed as fanatically here as anywhere in the British Isles. Two of the most unusual tea spots are Homer’s Cafe in the 15-hectare Botanical Gardens (Sundays) and Sweet P’s at the Bermuda Perfumery (Wednesdays and Saturdays).

Bermuda's Horseshoe Bay, where gorgeous stretches of sand really do shimmer pinkly under the sun. (Bermuda Tourism Authority/TNS)

Bermuda’s pink beaches are as noteworthy as Kentucky’s blue grass, Utah’s red rocks or Vermont’s green mountains. Gorgeous stretches of sand such as Horseshoe Bay really do shimmer pinkly under the sun. They may inspire poetry, but science offers an explanation for all the pinkness.

Just off the island’s south shore are an abundance of coral reefs that are home to a tiny red marine organism. Upon its death, the organism discards its pink shell, which then mixes with the white sand to create the distinctive color.

Rebirth of a regal lady

Also seashell pink, the Hamilton Princess Hotel and Beach Club anchors a prominent spot near Front Street, while its back side overlooks the yacht-crammed town harbor. Officially dubbed the “Pink Palace,” the Princess re-opened this summer after a two-year, $100 million refurbishment, and will serve as the official host hotel for the 35th annual America’s Cup Yacht Races to be held on the island in June of 2017.

Among the new additions to the property are the island’s first celebrity chef restaurant and a public art program that rivals that of a major museum.

Marcus’s Restaurant showcases the culinary artistry of Marcus Samuelsson, a native Ethiopian and adopted Swede, who hit the big time in Manhattan with his Red Rooster Harlem.

Guests can also experience his cuisine at the restaurant and bar at the Princess Beach Club, a private club for hotel guests on one of the south coast’s loveliest sheltered coves.

The quality of the hotel art is best appreciated on a twice daily (11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) curated art walk throughout the public areas of the hotel and grounds. Yes, that is Her Majesty, the Queen, staring down from behind the registration desk (courtesy of Andy Warhol’s silk screening) and Damien Hurst’s signature polka dots just off the main lobby. If you have a trained eye, you can also spot pieces by Roy Lichtenstein and British BoHo artist Banksy.

Pink sand and blue water, Bermuda shorts and the British flag, sailboats and sunsets — visitors to this beautiful island are spoiled for choice. (TNS)

By Patricia Nickell

Lexington Herald-Leader