The five-star Fairmont Southampton Resort (101 South Shore Rd., tel. 441/238-8000, toll-free reservations 866/540-4497, southampton [at] fairmont [dot] com, www.fairmont.com/southampton, high season $538–2,900 d) has undergone a slew of renovations in the past decade, and remains a major conference center and luxury resort hotel. Built in 1972 and encompassing 100 acres, the Fairmont Southampton remains the island’s largest luxury resort hotel property, perched on a high ridge that overlooks both the South Shore and Great Sound. Saudi sheikhs and their entourages have booked penthouse floors here, and celebrities like Michael Bolton have spent holidays at the property. Private jets special-order menus from the hotel’s kitchens, and even visiting celebrities who don’t happen to stay here hire out its chefs.
And when Bermudians want to “get away” without leaving the island, a weekend at the Fairmont Southampton is considered the superlative escape. The decor—a 1970s confection of chandeliers, powder rooms, soaring staircases, and several hundred miles of carpet—is over-the-top in a 007 sort of way, but an exceptional variety of services are offered, and the staff are professional. If you enjoy large resort hotels and don’t mind being 20 minutes from Hamilton, this is the island’s best choice.
Guest rooms include standard to one- and two-bedroom suites and duplexes, plus a couple of penthouses overlooking the South Shore or Great Sound. All rooms have private balconies, in-room safes, air-conditioning, minibars, private baths, walk-in closets, cable TV, voicemail, dataport with Internet access, and hair dryers. All but the first of six floors are nonsmoking. The resort has six restaurants (including two rated AAA Four and Five Diamond Awards), two bars, and a 31,000-square-foot spa and fitness club. It can accommodate convention groups of up to 1,500, with 16 meeting rooms and a multimedia amphitheater. Recreational amenities include two swimming pools (outdoor heated and indoor, both with hot tubs), an 18-hole par-3 golf course, 11 all-weather tennis courts, and a private beach. Other diversions include a cycle shop, a dive shop, Jet Ski rentals, and a year-round complimentary Kids Explorers Camp for children ages four and up . There’s free ferry service across the Great Sound to Fairmont Hamilton Princess dock.
The Reefs (56 South Shore Rd., tel. 441/238-0222, fax 441/238-8372, toll-free from the U.S. or Canada 800/742-2008, www.thereefs.com, high season $595–1,035 d, cottages $689–1,729) consistently rakes in international awards—like Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2008, which ranked it the No. 1 resort in the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean—for privacy, professionalism, and its well-appointed property. Nestled in the cliffs above its own beautiful beach, the resort is owned by Bermuda’s former tourism minister, David Dodwell. The Reefs surpasses many other Bermuda resorts by reinvesting in its coral-pink property. Three top-end point suites ($854 a night, with private outdoor hot tubs) exude an urbane decor reminiscient of a SoHo loft—a play on neutrals that makes a refreshing change from the wicker-and-floral epidemic afflicting many island accommodations. There are seven cottage suites, the best of which are located on the ocean-facing side of the property.
La Serena spa is among the amenities, along with an infinity pool, its horizon blending with the South Shore’s. Meticulous landscaping makes every planted palm appear freshly scrubbed and every lawn edge appear to have been trimmed with a razor blade. Honeymooners, families, and guests of every age bracket seem to enjoy the place equally. Bermudians flock here for weekend getaways in the off-season, and to the property’s restaurants year-round. There is a five-night minimum stay mid-April–November. All 65 rooms have private balconies. Wedding, honeymoon, and anniversary packages are offered. Three restaurants, a gym, pool, kayaks, croquet, shuffleboard, and tennis courts make this a property you might never want to leave.
Named for the schools of long-finned surf fish, Pompano Beach Club (36 Pompano Beach Rd., tel. 441/234-0222, fax 441/234-1694, toll-free 800/343-4155, pompano [at] ibl [dot] bm, www.pompanobeachclub.com, $520–1,000 d, four-night minimum stay in high season) commands one of the island’s most dramatic seascapes. Ensconced in the cliffs of the southwest shoreline, the 74-room resort overlooks an atoll-like bay where low tide allows you to wade out some 250 yards over a shallow sandbar, called Pompano Flats, to the surrounding reef line. Sea turtles frolic here, and the wide-open azure horizons and rolling breakers give the illusion of looking out from the top deck of an ocean liner at sea. Winner of the 2007 tripadvisor.com Traveler’s Choice Award for Best Luxury (Latin America/Caribbean), Pompano is a family-owned and -run property with a casual atmosphere that attracts kid-toting couples as well as honeymooners. Staff members boast about its high rate of repeat guests and the ultra-personalized service.
Rooms are of the usual Bermuda mold, with tiled floors, potted plants, floral decor, and pastel watercolors, but private balconies with uncommon surf views make up for the lack of interior inspiration. Golf, honeymoon, and anniversary packages are offered. The resort has a spa, fitness center, game room, oceanfront hot tubs, six tennis courts, and a glass-enclosed, 60-seat restaurant. A watersports outlet offers guests kayaks, paddleboats, waterbikes, Hobie Cat sailboats, and windsurfing gear, and—an exceptional golf experience can be had at the adjoining world-championship Port Royal Golf Course.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition