*SEE PHOTOS BELOW*
I've just returned from what might have been the easiest travel experience to a clear blue water paradise I've yet to find: Bermuda. Yup, that colonial island known for its constant breeze, pastel shorts, Goslings dark rum and the inevitable scooter mishap has quickly jumped to the top of my list on where to head when the temperatures threaten nasty and the memory of summer's flip-flops and sand between your toes has dimmed beyond recognition.
Of course, with Bermuda, the timing is everything and it's definitively not the destination for the dead of winter (January, February, even March) however, its popularity in early fall and early spring make it ideal for shoulder-season (late October, November and pre-holidays December and then April and early May) travelers who will delight to find hotel deals, uncrowded beaches and eager restaurants.
While this past weekend wasn't my first time to Bermuda, it was my first time as a mom. Having already logged a few trips with my newborn son (the plight of a travel writing mum -- his passport is already four stamps full in just four months) I was delighted to realize the flight to Bermuda was a mere two hours from JFK and with a departure time of 11am, deliciously convenient to nap times and void of the early morning rush.
Upon landing we sailed through customs and hopped a taxi direct to our destination; the estimable Tucker's Point Hotel & Spa. I had heard from pretty much everyone who had already been that Tucker's Point was a triumph; it's rooms luxurious, its spa soothing, the gift shop well-sourced and the Point restaurant incomparably elegant with original murals from the old Sky Club. I can now personally attest that all of those adages are indeed true. I was smitten at first glance (particularly with the restaurant, which would make an enviable location for a rehearsal dinner and the locker rooms at the spa, whose english pale blue and cream color scheme was equally tranquil and fresh!)
What I hadn't yet heard though, was how Tucker's Point is for kids. Mind you, my child is young and thus kids club doesn't quite yet pertain, however, that doesn't mean I wasn't scoping it out. I was very pleased to see multiple children squealing and scampering in the pink sand of the attractive and well-appointed Beach Club. There was even an impressive sand castle constructed with the help of the club's buckets and tools. I was also thrilled to learn that the hotel offers sailing lessons for kids out of their impressive water sports area which also includes kayaks and small motor boats available for rent making private water excursions with the family a feasible treat. In fact, there were so many families during this november weekend, happily enjoying the beach club and use of the four separate pools, especially the one specified children's pool at the Beach, that I quickly inquired after the hotel's twenty four villas and fractional condo availabilities for next year, thinking it might just be the perfect spot for my husband and a few friends with kids to sneak away before the holidays.
When I went to look into rates I found out that there's a fantastic shoulder season promotion offering every third night free for guests visiting between November 26, 2010 and January 5th, 2011. It's called the Bermudaful Holiday Escape package and rates start at $375 per night and include a commemorative, hand painted Tucker's Point Christmas ornament as a holiday keepsake and a festive eggnog and Christmas cookie amenity upon arrival. If its one of the 64 Manor House hotel rooms that appeal, I highly recommend those in the corner tower, #17 on each floor.
Curious about such deals, I checked in with the Bermuda tourism board and learned that other hotels on the island also offer enticing shoulder-season specials including this Bermuda-wide offer from the Bermuda Department of Tourism that guarantees every third night free when booking a minimum three-night stay between November 15, 2010 and March 15, 2001 at 16 participating hotel properties. The accommodations range from luxury resorts and boutique hotels to beach clubs and historic beach-front properties, so you can't go wrong, while rates range from approximately $125 -- $460 per night. Check out Bermuda Tourism site for more info.
So, while the over-water villas of the Maldives will always beckon with exoticism, the crystalline waters of Bermuda are similarly brilliant and the plane ride is far more approachable, especially with impatient little ones.