Tried and tested: Bermuda with kids…
Bermuda is a fantastic 21 mile long by 7 mile island and is mostly known for its pink sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and 9 golf courses. Having travelled a couple of times to Bermuda with Prestige Holidays for work – would I enjoy the same experience travelling with my family (including my two daughters aged 6 & 3)?
Having travelled extensively on a number of long-haul trips around the world before children – we have always been short-haul with the girls. Could they cope with 7-hour flight and how would they feel staying in deluxe hotels? With my itchy feet and my many years of moving around – I opted for 3 hotels dotted around the island – so we experienced all aspects of the island.
Firstly British Airways – they were marvellous. I pre-booked our seats and selected our meals. On the flight itself from 3pm – it was full – the stewardesses provided colouring books and quiz books, children’s’ meals, coloured plastic cutlery and snacks and there was a family film and CBEEBIES (by which point they had fallen asleep) – 3.5 hours into the flight. Perfect relaxation time.
First check-in point was Fairmont Southampton which is located on the west of the island. Although I am usually not one for large hotels – this was a fantastic 5* hotel. We had a fantastic spacious (Deluxe Harbour) room.
What was it that I personally like about this hotel? The staff made a fuss of the girls – even having glasses of milk and cookies ready on our late arrival…Dark & Stormy ingredients for us. (The local cocktail).
The breakfast was a phenomenal choice ranging from smoothies on order, cooked breakfasts – eggs benedict to die for – egg chef – cold cuts, all cereals, local cooked breakfasts, a huge selection of fruit, fresh bagels, muffins & pastries and the list goes on!
The girls loved being able to choose items (starting from cereals, progressing to fruit and smoothies and ending with muffins) and their motivation to eat was to be able to eat through their courses.
The swimming pool had a children’s pool attached with a small water slide – it gave them hours of pleasure…especially meeting with the other children. There is a great kids club – unfortunately my children were not interested and we were happy to have them. However babies right through to teenagers can be catered for…
We were provided with a daily schedule list – so we could organise our plans – yes, I skipped the water aerobics, yes I missed out on yoga classes – however I did manage the toddler singing class and games on the beach and ‘Happy Hour’ (actually happy 2 hours) between 4pm-6pm.
Although you need to take a tram down to the beach – it was easy enough since they run so regularly.
The beach has its own restaurant, pool bar and water-sports area. Good restaurants – our favourite being the Italian restaurant, Bacci with a separate children’s menu. However you must remember that their portions are HUGE. Worth ordering children’s portions for lunch – since adults sizes are very large. However a great offer was kids under 5 ate for FREE!
Children’s menus are available at Harley’s at The Fairmont Hamilton Princess and at The Fairmont Southampton in Wickets, The Ocean Club, Bacci and Waterlot Inn, in addition to in-room dining.
Other facilities to consider are the 18-hole golf course and the Willow Spa. Also a complimentary ferry into Hamilton (capital) if you need to venture away from the hotel.
Whilst staying here, I went for a few hours to Cambridge Beaches which is located on a private peninsula on the West. This is a hotel catered to mainly adults – it has had a revamp since my last visit. It has a modern new look with beautiful dark wood furniture and a modern contemporary feel. Pool suites offer a chic intimacy and offer privacy. The spa has been uplifted with new décor and beach area has been improved – has an immaculate look about it. It truly is ideal for the romantic couple of whatever age – again there were couples on their honeymoon and I met a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary!! This really is a property made of cottage colonies and is a world away from the high-rise hotel.
Now I wanted to be in the capital – Hamilton – in the hub of it all. Staying at Newstead Belmont (all suites and self-catering apartments), I wanted the freedom of being independent. We had a separate bedroom and kitchenette.
There are two fantastic restaurants – Blu & Beau Rivage. (I tried Beau Rivage on my last visit and to this day – is a memory that I will always treasure since it was a culinary delight at The Chefs Table). There is a beautiful affinity pool overlooking the ocean. Watching the sunset, cocktail in hand and all the sailing boats & yachts passing by…
There is a complimentary water shuttle service to run from the harbour to main town Hamilton which takes all of 5 minutes.
A reason why I opted for self-catering during the middle of the stay was that it might be cheaper to dine in rather than eat at restaurants – this is not the case. The local supermarket contains all your requirements under one roof – however, most of the brands are ‘Waitrose’.
2 pint of milk = US $6
Half a loaf of bread = US $5
Jam = US $3
And the final destination – Elbow Beach (part of the Mandarin Oriental). This is a deluxe, super-chic hotel – suitable for couples, friends and families. We completely relaxed here. It has the best beach on the island. The service is incredible – to the point where staff greet each client by name, including the children. Our pattern for each day was to spend the morning until 2pm around the pool and then while away the afternoon at the beach. There is a manned kids club around the pool whereby my children would go to do some art, play games and chill out from the sun. The beach staff provided buckets and spades for building sandcastles. They went searching for fishes and we hired a kayak as well.
This was an ideal opportunity to sample a spa treatment – I am a huge spa enthusiast and I have always loved the experience at Mandarin Orientals – could Elbow Beach live to my expectations? It was amazing from start to finish! My therapist really took exceptional care and noted my requirements.
Dining was a fabulous experience and we ensured that we took advantage of all the restaurants on property. Lido (adults only) is truly amazing having won a number of awards. It is elegant with an interesting twist on dining and has an impressive wine list.
However, if purchasing a ‘Dine Around’ Package – as well as the 3 restaurants on Elbow Beach, customers have full use of 4 other restaurants on the island – 2 in the area of Paget and 2 in the area of Hamilton. They will enjoy a starter, main course, dessert and coffee or tea. This is a great added bonus! Plus book by 26 July and travel before 31 July 2011 for 4 nights and over – get US $200 resort credit exclusively with Prestige Holidays!
Having already experienced Dolphin Quest – I was very keen for my girls to enjoy the same experience. Dolphin Quest is located in Royal Naval Dockyard…a public ferry ride away – approx. 25 minutes transfer from Hamilton.
This can be booked directly. We opted for ‘Discover Dolphins’ for one adult and 2 children.
It allowed us to come face-to-face in shallow waters with the dolphins. We would touch and feed them, discover their great intelligence and playfulness, and make fine flippered friends for life!!
On a separate day, we visited the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo. We took a direct public bus from Hamilton to the East Coast of the island.
A 2-day adult pass that allows travel on all public ferries and public buses cost US $20.
(No time restrictions).
Buses are easy to use since there are 2 routes – the blue & pink route – one that travels from left to right and another from right to left.
The buses are air-conditioned, clean and spacious.
We celebrated a fantastic local evening on Front Street – the main street in Hamilton – every Wednesday night between May to October. There is a funfair and wonderful carnival atmosphere. There is local food and shopping stalls. There is live music, Gombey dancers, and local arts and crafts as well.
Overall Bermuda is a beautiful, safe, relaxed island which is ideal for families (and couples) looking for a fantastic summer break especially wanting to wander further afield than Europe with fabulous sunny weather. It truly is ideal for watersports enthusiasts, golf players (9 courses on the island), spa enthusiasts, couples looking for romance and families looking for relaxation but entertainment for the children!
With thanks to Shubhra Halliday at Prestige Holidays.