SOMERSET, Bermuda -- When staff members began discussing adding a
"Chef's Table" to the dining options at Cambridge Beaches resort,
some were skeptical.
Would guests really want to give up the beauty and the bay views
of the Tamarisk Room for, well, a seat in the kitchen?
Turns out they would.
But the Chef's Table is no ordinary dining experience.
A four- to seven-course gourmet meal is prepared nightly for up
to eight guests seated around a table dressed with fine linens,
rare china, crystal and silver. The table itself is on a platform,
enabling guests to view cooking demonstrations throughout the
"Our guests have been absolutely delighted," said executive chef
Marc Dobbel. "They've been giving the Chef's Table rave reviews for
having the highest level of cuisine and service."
The Chef's Table, which debuted in April, is one of several
recent additions to Cambridge Beaches, which is located on a
25-acre peninsula at the western tip of the island near
Bermuda's oldest cottage resort has spent $10 million -- $1.5
million in its dining areas alone -- on renovations in the past two
Long Bay Cafe, the beachfront restaurant, also has been expanded to
seat up to 100 people.
Additions to the Ocean Spa include new treatment rooms, an
expanded Relaxation Lounge and a new hydrotherapy bath
The spa is part of a two-level, 10,000-square-foot wellness
facility that has a Roman-style pool, a current pool, a whirlpool,
a fitness center and a gift shop.
As part of the redo, 18 rooms were added, giving the resort 94
cottage rooms and suites. All of the buildings have been
The grounds have been upgraded, with hammocks placed throughout
the property to encourage guests to relax and take in the ocean
views. The resort has five private beaches.
"We've created a place where our guests can get away from the
stress of the world and enjoy beauty, peace, fun and caring
service," said Richard Quinn, the manager of Cambridge Beaches and
a native Bermudian.
Rates in high season, from April 16 to Oct. 31, range from $465
for a gardenview room, double occupancy, up to $1,480 for a
two-bedroom cottage. Breakfast, English tea and dinner are
included. Travel agent commission at the resort is 10%.
Occupancy rates, which fell at resorts across the island after
9/11, are beginning to rebound, according to Quinn.
The resort is expecting occupancy to climb this summer -- close
to the rates it enjoyed before the 2001 tourism slump and economic
Summer rates were about 90%, while occupancy rates in
November-December and early April were 60% and in winter about
Quinn said about 50% of the resort's guests return. One of the
main reasons guests cite for returning to Cambridge Beaches is the
quality of the food.
That's why chef Dobbel wanted to introduce the Chef's Table, the
only one offered on the island.
"We wanted to offer a premium gourmet dining experience for
small groups that would complement the array of other fine dining
opportunities at the resort," Dobbel said.
Guests can sign up at the front desk or may receive an
invitation from the chef himself.
Food preferences and any special requirements are requested
before a special menu is created for that evening.
A recent dinner began with poached mainland lobster and
scallops, followed by an entree of oven-roasted rack of black-faced
lamb loin with a mustard and garden herb crust. Dessert was an
orange and Grand Marnier souffle.
Dinner begins promptly at 7:15 p.m., but diners often linger
until 10 p.m. Guests receive a special printed menu as a keepsake
of the evening.
Resort guests pay an additional $30, plus 15% gratuity, above
the meal plan. Nonguests pay $85 per person, plus 15% gratuity.
The atmosphere is decidedly more casual at the Long Bay Cafe.
It's just steps away from the beach, so cold drinks, snacks, salads
and sandwiches are made to order and can be eaten in the open-air
dining area or on a lounge chair in the sun.
The cuisine may be a key draw at Cambridge Beaches, but the
Ocean Spa is another. The resort was one of the first on the island
to offer spa services in the early 1990s.
Today, its spa facilities are considered among "the most
specialized, the most intimate and the most upscale," said Michael
Ternent, owner of Bersalon, which operates the Ocean Spa.
More than 100 different treatments are offered by staff members,
who were trained in Europe.
A la carte treatments begin at $35, but full-day programs are
available, as well.
"We offer a premier introduction to spas for the beginner and an
absolutely satisfying and impressive program for the experienced
spa-goer, said Ternent.
"It's become so popular that we recommend guests make
appointments prior to arrival."
For reservations or for more information, call (800) 468- 7300
or visit www.cambridgebeaches.com.
• Appeal to your mature, high-income clients who you think could
envision themselves playing cricket in shorts. (The sport is so
popular that the government has declared the two-day Cricket Cup
Match in late July and early August a legal holiday, and many
people skip work to attend.)
• Send direct-mail pieces or e-mail messages to groups you've
sent on golf or tennis outings. Let them know that the first game
of tennis in the Western Hemisphere was played in Bermuda in 1873,
and the sport remains popular at resorts. Advise them of Bermuda's
top golf courses.
• Sell the location. It's fast and easy to get to, particularly
with the new direct flights that make it less than two hours from
the East Coast.
• Qualify your clients. Contact seniors for whom the island's
small size would have great appeal. Bermuda is small enough that
visitors can stay in one place and still visit all of the major