Bermuda: Lodging

There have been substantial changes on the Bermuda hotel scene in the past year -- most notably the change in ownership at the two Princess properties. Other hotels continue to upgrade and enhance their products as the island seeks to maintain its place as a premium destination.

With the purchase last year of Princess Hotels by Canadian Pacific Hotels, the two Princess properties -- Hamilton Princess and Southampton Princess -- became part of the Canadian Pacific chain.

There are plans for extensive investment in the properties, including a new spa for the Southampton Princess. Meanwhile, Michael Kaile, who was general manager of the Waterfront Centre Hotel in Vancouver, has moved to the Hamilton Princess, and Norman Mastalir moved from the Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta to the Southampton Princess.

Several Canadian Pacific programs are now available at the Princess properties. For instance, Canadian Pacific's Travel Agent Stay rate program now applies during certain periods in Bermuda. Through March that rate is $69 per night per agent (maximum two nights) at both Hamilton and Southampton.

Also, Canadian Pacific Club is a business travelers' program that features guest preference profile, with information on guests who have stayed at any of the chain's hotels; health club privileges; 24-hour fax service with express pickup and delivery; free access to work stations; streamlined reservations; instant check-in/checkout; late checkout privileges; check cashing and free luggage storage.

Elbow Beach completed its $42 million renovation, which began with the takeover in early 1996 by Monaco-based Rafael Hotels. The 250-room resort on 55 acres has brought what it claims are several firsts to the island: Computerized in-room electronic minibars; butler service; a high-speed Internet connection; a 24-hour live video feed of underwater wrecks is on every room T.V., and the first Clefs d'Or concierge in Bermuda.

The hotel also brought back some old traditions. For instance, the beach fronting the resort is again reserved exclusively for guests and members of the hotel's club; the main restaurant has taken back the name Seahorse Grill, though with a distinctive new menu; and a new entrance reflects the classic Bermudian design of the original.

A dine-around program has replaced the standard hotel meal plan. Guests receive preferential reservations and may charge their room meals at four restaurants in Hamilton. They may also sign at The Surf Club, a waterfront restaurant in Hamilton that is operated by Elbow Beach and offers entertainment.

The dress code of coat and tie after 5 and at afternoon tea, has been eliminated and guests may wear what they like. And as an option instead of tea, guests may listen to a steel drum band on the beach as they watch the sunset and enjoy a cocktail.

The new business center offers a variety of secretarial services, translation into 40 languages, packaging and mailing; there are also a board room and four function rooms with views of the South Shore.

There is now a Fun Department, which organizes races, helmet diving, mountain biking, kayaking and golf. New at the pool and beach are attendants offering towels and lotions, food and beverage, dry towels, umbrellas and cabanas.

A wreck called the Pollack Shields, just offshore, is accessible via Zodiac or shore dive.

The last piece in the renovation project is the Fritholme Mansion, a structure on the property that will be a spa come the spring of 1999. The 6,500-square-foot building, built in 1933 at the edge of the resort grounds, boasts 20-foot ceilings and windows overlooking the sea.

The spa will offer classes, resistance machines, private treatment rooms, steam and sauna, pool and Jacuzzi and a beauty salon.

Cambridge Beaches, a cottage colony, has a new spa that is operating at 100% after extensive construction. The Ocean Spa features a pool and solarium with retractable sunroof, "resistance" pool that allows guests to swim against a current, whirlpool, fitness center, beauty area, spa treatment rooms, cafe and shop.

The property will offer a Millennium Escape package over the New Year's Eve 1999 period. The five-night program begins at $3,400 per couple and includes accommodations, breakfasts, afternoon tea and dinner, use of leisure facilities including the spa, a New Year's gala, ferry service to Hamilton, sightseeing, tennis round robin, croquet and putting tournaments, wine tastings and cooking classes. The package is available to guests arriving on December 27, 28 or 29, during which time a five-night minimum stay will be required.

A 12-night version for those who want to spend Christmas at the resort begins at $6,200 per couple.

On New Year's Eve, guests will experience a "time-space" travel tour of the 20th century that will feature a reception at the spa, with a re-creation of the world of Lawrence of Arabia; a walk through a "time tunnel" where music, lights and moving pictures capture momentous occasions from the century; dinner, with a multimedia showcase on which the century will pass in review, and entertainment by a nine-piece orchestra.

Pink Beach Club & Cottages in Tucker's Town has embarked on a two-year development program that will include the creation of a residential community, with market rental units; new accommodations, and the refurbishment of many existing rooms housed in the Ambassador, Governor, Cliff, Shore and Bay Cottages and the clubhouse.

There will be a total of 19 residences of three- or four bedrooms each. To compensate for accommodations being converted into residences, new accommodations -- four two-bedroom suites and seven junior suites -- are being constructed in time for the 1999 high season.

Many of the residences will be available for use by Pink Beach Club as hotel suites; owners will be able to take advantage of a short-term rental option to be managed by the resort. This arrangement, according to resort executives, is a first for Bermuda.

Following the 1997 expansion of its beach, Pompano Beach had the busiest year in its 43-year history with a summer occupancy of 92%. The resort will add still more sand this March in the second phase of the project.

After adding two new beachfront deluxe rooms last year, one more will be added for the coming season.

Also new for 1999 will be an oceanfront wading pool to be built next to the pool deck area. The pool is for sunbathers wishing to simply cool off in the water while they relax, and for children. The pool bar will have a new look. It is being expanded out onto the pool deck and will have a more "tiki bar" (Polynesian) feeling.

The Sonesta Beach Resort Bermuda will open a new business center on April 1 to serve the large number of business travelers and groups that stay at the property.

Also, the resort's "Just Us Kids" activities program will start operating earlier this year -- during Easter and Spring Break.

The Reefs restaurant, Catalan, is now serving a "chef's tables" menu rather than Spanish cuisine. That means the chef decides on a menu depending on the availability of fresh and seasonal products.

Marriott's Castle Harbour has a new program of free fitness walks that combine exercise with a tour of Bermuda, highlighting the island's history, culture, flora and fauna. The three walks are offered by the resort's fitness instructor. They include:

  • Adventure Walk: This 90-minute, 3.5-mile walk goes along a dirt path through wooded areas and offers guests a chance to learn about natural history while seeing caves, streams and fish ponds; the halfway point is historic Tom Moore Tavern.
  • Vitality Walk: This is a three-mile, one-hour scenic stroll through residential areas and natural arches. Guests learn about history, plant life and beaches.
  • Power Walk: The same length as the Vitality Walk, this goes to the South Shore Beach and back. It is designed for exercise and is for those seeking an intermediate or advanced workout. n
  • Comments
    JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI