Warwick Long Bay, Bemuda

A Rather Splendid Version Of Home

3rd January 2014

Got the January blues?

Rowena Carr-Allinson prescribes Bermuda as the cure…

You may not have thought to put Bermuda (also called the Bermudas, or the Somers Isles) at the top of your list for a romantic break, but these islands – known as a tax free haven for the likes of Ross Perot and Michael Douglas, and notorious for their mysterious local triangle – certainly fit all my requirements for a long haul romantic break: a direct (7 hour) flight from London, plenty of palm trees and abundant sun…

On arrival we’re greeted with that lovely balmy warmth, which Europe can never provide – or at least not in Spring – swaying palm trees, pristine manicured gardens, exotic flora aplenty and oodles of sunshine. We’re also greeted by our designated driver, Larry. It turns out that in Bermuda visitors aren’t permitted to hire cars, so you’re taxi-reliant – which actually is a great way to find out more about the island, and get the inside scoop. Settling into the back of the van, we find ourselves on an impromptu island tour, including some local gossip. “Did you know Berlusconi was a local?” asks Larry. I giggle, partly because I’m exhausted from the flight, but mostly because I think they really ought to keep that one quiet.

As we whizz through the incredibly pretty towns with their pink, yellow and blue houses and perfectly manicured gardens, I get the idea that we’re in a parallel universe. It’s unbelievably quaint, but also very smart. It’s so tidy, and neat, and organised, unlike other Caribbean islands: much more structured. Then again, this is not technically a Caribbean island; it’s just easy to be fooled by the azure waters, the picture perfect sandy beaches and the rainbow of pastel coloured low-slung houses, with their limestone wash white roofs and tropical gardens.

See www.gotobermuda.co.uk for information and inspiration

Having said that, though, it comes as no surprise that Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory. Aside from the Queen’s head adorning the local bank notes, there’s a distinctly Brit feel here: the omnipresent flag, with its Union Jack corner on a dashing red backdrop; Her Majesty’s portrait to greet you at the airport and the iconic red postboxes and phone boxes. We should feel right at home.

And we do. A rather splendid version of home… Our cottage at The Elbow Beach hotel, just outside Hamilton, is set just yards away from the beach. Its cool classic creams and pale blue colour scheme is just to my taste, and the overall feel is very preppy. Some might say it has a ‘Ralph Lauren’ look about it. The room comes with the usual beautiful marble bathroom, a huge tub, walk-in shower and mysteriously empty minibar – which is a shame as I could kill for a cup of tea.

We settle for a quick shower and head to Mickey’s, the resort’s brasserie on the beach. It’s just what we’d dreamed about. The only ‘on the beach’ restaurant on the island, it’s abuzz. I love its location, the views over the perfect white sand and the sound of the waves. The menu is an ode to seafood. I opt for a fresh Tuna Carpaccio and a Seafood Grill, which seems fitting. Mickey’s is packed with chic New Yorkers, families, friends on a girls’ getaway, businessmen wearing the infamous shorts, or yachting types. The Brit feel is suddenly lost, and I realise that we’re actually spending a few days amongst New York’s elite, in one of their ‘go to’ spots – and who can blame them? It’s only an hour and a half’s flight for them to reach these balmy shores.

We feast on gorgeous grilled oversized prawns, scallops and tuna carpaccio washed down with some fresh Zinfandel. It might be the ‘blush’, the warm breeze, or the fact that we’ve been on the go for almost 20 hours, but my eyelids are very heavy, and I’m ridiculously grateful that my bed is just a few steps away…

We spend two of the four days on a minimum action plan. Once we’ve sampled the chocolate chip pancakes, and explored the resort, from the imposing reception hall to the grandiose games room, we opt to do not much at the beach, a very rare treat for young parents. The sand is so white and light, like fine flour, and the warm turquoise sea is so soft, it’s heaven. We take ownership of a pair of navy sunloungers, complete with hotel logo in gold embroidery, a hippocampus wearing a top hat named Summers. Of course.

Having promised ourselves that we’ll have at least one action-packed adventure while on the island, though, we decide to go it alone and rent a scooter for the day. Luckily my husband is an old pro, and after we narrowly escape amputation by another guest who’s not so handy on a two-wheeler, we set off into Hamilton town. For lunch we stop at the very chic Harbour-front Restaurant, a cosy terrace under white marquee-like drapes where we sample some fantastic sushi including a Godzilla (California roll wrapped with smoked eel) and a Bermuda Triangle (Spicy yellowtail and scallions wrapped with salmon, tuna and wahoo) – both fantastic.

The city is tiny by any standards, and we’ve soon ticked off everything there is to see, from the imposing parliament houses to the handful of duty free shops and tourist-friendly souvenir stores situated in the colourful buildings along Front street and Reid street. I can’t resist a tacky souvenir mug and a ‘Bermuda’ T shirt for the small person we left at home. It’s nice to see the locals going about their business, most of it financial, and even more pleasing to realise that local ‘suits’ take the wearing of Bermuda shorts very seriously. Teamed with a jacket, they are the apparel de rigueur on the island, worn with pulled-up socks (seriously) and, bizarrely, it really works. I’m quite taken with the look, and full of unlikely admiration for these ‘summer season’ businessmen.

Whizzing back along the pretty green lanes, we decide that scooter is probably the best mode of transport to see the place. We toy with the idea of heading to Georgetown where awesome cruiseships come in to dock – but are put off by the idea of the crowds they invariably bring with them, so head back to our cosy room and dine at the resort’s Seabreeze restaurant. Kicking back on the sofa, listening to the live music and the waves, while munching on a weird international supply of tapas from super crispy Shrimp Tempura to Spanish meatballs and Chicken Satay Sticks, the romance factor is definitely in the air…

On our final day, after yet more pancakes, I check into the spa for a morning of indulgence. The intoxicating lemongrass fragrance and beautiful Asian-inspired silk fabrics, dark woods and signature Orchids have an instant relaxing effect on me. My ‘Time Ritual’ means my therapist will work on what my body and mind need right now ie a back massage and an express facial for rehydration. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was pure bliss and it really does work. I leave re-energised (no mean feat) and with a much healthier-looking face (ditto).

For our last night on the island we go wild and book at another resort: Tucker’s Point. It’s very posh and preppy. Once inside the restaurant, The Point, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was Marthas’ Vineyard. The décor is grand, from the upholstered oversized armchairs to the murals on the walls, but we opt to dine al fresco overlooking the pool and gardens. The food is gourmet: a Rib Eye and Roll Angus steak is amazing, as is the Bermuda Yellow Fin Tuna with a wasabi mash!

Sadly after four days, we still haven’t gotten into the swing of the time difference and by 10pm we’re fighting to keep awake. On the bright side, that makes the return home a bit less painful…

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