Resort opening in May leads the luxe without a tux trend

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SANDYS, Bermuda -- The philosophy behind 9 Beaches, a resort opening here in May, is to replace Bermudas buttoned-down reputation with something considerably more casual but in a luxury setting.

Ours is an active resort targeting a younger market than what has been typical of Bermuda, said Russ Urban, co-owner of 9 Beaches and managing director of its parent company, Island Resort Collection. Urbans partner in 9 Beaches is David Dodwell.

Island Resort also owns and manages Nisbet Plantation, on Nevis, along with a Marthas Vineyard property.

Theres no jacket required here. In fact, our guests will experience a vacation not typical of any other resort. Our goal is to break down the normal barriers of a hotel stay, said Urban.

The property is situated on 18 waterfront acres, and accommodations are in 84 cabanas, all built on stilts and some perched over the water with see-through floor panels revealing the world below. All cabanas have oceanview verandas.

Travel agents will be an important component to 9 Beaches, Urban said.

We have a sales representative entirely devoted to the trade who will focus on agents in the Washington to Boston corridor, which includes Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York. Its less than two hours to Bermuda from those East Coast gateways, and we will concentrate on them, he said.

Commission will be 10%.

The resorts accommodations promise to be an important selling point, Urban added.

There are 10 Top Banana cabanas, which the resort said are the premier locations, standing over the water on stilts or anchored on seaside rocks.

Other cabanas include 15 Aqua Vistas, which have the clear floor panels; 40 Sea Forever Cabanas, which offer direct access to the beach plus views of bluffs or the open ocean; and 19 Coco Coral Cabanas dotting the bluffs and the nine coves.

Cabanas are stocked with Bermuda black rum and ginger beer; all have CD players, and DVD players are available. What they dont have are TVs, radios or phones.

Seclusion is a priority at 9 Beaches, Urban said.

If you need something, simply raise the service flag at your cabana, and staff will be there in short order to see to it. We have a can-do attitude here. Whatever the guests want, they get.

For example, we have two restaurants on site, but if guests would prefer a lobster dinner on the beach at 2 a.m., it wont be a problem at all, he said, referring to a service called the Barefoot Gourmet.

Restaurants include the Hi Tide, which serves a full- and tapas-style menu, with cuisine from the Caribbean, Italy, the Mediterranean and, of course, Bermuda, as well as Dark n Stormys, a bar that overlooks the sea and dishes up light cuisine such as soups, salads, sandwiches and grilled items.

Other amenities include a cell phone for each cabana. According to Urban, phones will be programmed with local numbers, and guests can buy a phone card if they need to make long-distance calls.

We know that using your personal cell phone to make local calls is expensive. For Americans, the call switches first to the States, than back to the local number in Bermuda, so theyre being charged twice.

For instance, if you were calling a restaurant nearby, youd be double-charged. So we are providing [cell phones] free, and all local calls are free, he said.

Other amenities include a complimentary continental breakfast. Activities on site feature spa services, yoga and other instruction.

Aquatic options abound, Urban said. Guests can use a sunfish, sailboard or sea kayak, or paddle the waves in a raft, paddleboat, catamaran, banana boat or glass-bottomed cruiser. Snorkeling and scuba also are offered.

Although 9 Beaches may sound like the perfect place for a romantic getaway or a honeymoon, families are welcome, too, Urban said.

The resort offers a half- and full-day Kids Kamp as well as private baby-sitting, with advance notice.

To contact reporter Donna Tunney, send e-mail to [email protected].

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