You know the old saying about a situation getting worse before it gets better?The travel…
Mark Twain said it best: “You die and go to Heaven. I’m staying in Bermuda.” This British Overseas Territory (also known as The Island or The Rock) is only a two-hour plane flight from New York City and one of the main reasons I chose it. You must buy a $75.00 Travel Authorization purchased 1-3 days before travel and submit a Covid-19 PRC test. (WARNING: make sure your date of birth is included on the Covid test or they will reject you).
It used to be that everyone in Bermuda wore Bermuda shorts, still considered formal attire and worn with a jacket and tie. But these days, the only person on the island who wears Bermudas (pink, in honor of the pink sand beaches) is Sam Matthews, owner of Piece of the Rock Limo and Taxi. Matthews is a native-born Bermudian, private driver and guide. He greeted me at the airport clad in his pink Bermudas, white knee socks, starched white shirt and pink tie. He was in his early seventies but looked closer to 50 and had a huge smile. “So why doesn’t anyone wear Bermudas anymore?” I asked. He grinned and said, “Because the younger generation doesn’t have legs like the older generation.”
As he drove me towards my resort, he offered up fascinating facts about Bermuda such as:
•Boxing day, the day after Christmas, is when you box up Christmas left-overs and give them to the hospitals – a far cry from boxing with thich leather gloves.
•75 percent of those who live on the island are Bermudians and the rest, foreigners working for 7,000 companies.
•Bermuda is an archipelago about 24 miles long and averages less than a mile wide.
When we passed a church, he said “There are 100 churches, but not one faith, so people worship money; but they have a building for that,” he laughed. He explained that, out of respect, none of the buildings are high because rules dictates that no building can be over five stories tall —- the height of the Anglican Cathedral. I remember when I visited Charleston, no building could be higher than St. Matthew’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church, a law which has since changed.
Wherever one drives in Bermuda (on the left, of course because it’s British) you pass beautiful manicured, velvety green lawns where the occasional wild chicken wanders. One drives by row after row of limestone pastel cottages, all topped with white stepped roofs. As Bermuda has no fresh water, the stepped roofs slow down the rainfall, helping to collect the fresh water which is stored it in tanks under the houses.
But when it comes to water, one is never far from the Atlantic Ocean which rings the island, and where there are endless public beaches to explore.
Bermuda offers accommodations for every budget including Airbnb’s, but those seeking the ultimate in luxury choose The Loren at Pink Beach and where I was treating myself to three nights. My comfy contemporary king-sized bedroom had floor-to-ceiling windows and a large terrace directly overlooking panoramic ocean views. If I sat on the terrace, I could hear the ocean, less than 50 feet away. My room had an easy-to-use Nespresso machine with unlimited coffee pods. The oversized marble bathroom boasted both a soaking tub and separate shower. In one closet was a plush robe, slippers and custom flip flops which said The Loren (mine to take home), The resort also offers one, two and three-bedroom suites as well as a private residence complete with pool, private chef and butler.
One of the many advantages to this boutique gem is that unlike large resorts in which I’ve stayed, at The Loren I didn’t have to walk down endless corridors and pathways to get to the restaurant, pool or beach. From my room, it’s was 25 steps to the lobby, 35 steps to the restaurant, 45 steps to the infinity pool and 20 more steps to the pink sand beach. Yes, the sand is actually pink, made of tiny, red-shelled organisms which mix with coral and crushed shell and then washes onto the beach, turning the sand pink. And happily, unlike Dudley Moore in the movie, 10, who had to run across the burning sand in his bare feet, the sand in Bermuda never gets hot because it’s so fine.
There are visitors who come to The Loren and never leave the resort. They might get up to watch the sunrise from their terraces, then go to breakfast at the resort’s Pink Beach Club, set right over the water (one hears the waves lapping below). The restaurant offers an extensive menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast, I was torn between lobster with fried egg, Brioche French Toast, Loren Eggs Benedict with short ribs and kale, and at least six different fresh squeezed fruit juices.
After breakfast, many visitors head to a lounger in the sun or shade by the infinity pool or they amble directly to the beach (just a few steps away). For me, it was a shaded private cabana by the pool. The moment I arrived, an attendant raced over, asked if I wanted my umbrella set up, gave me extra towels, and brought me ice-cold water with a candy-striped straw. The resort delivers drinks and food to the lounger, though I returned to the Pink Beach Club (25 steps away) for lunch. One day I had delicious poached local snapper with farm fresh greens, sweet zucchini and herb-sprinkled yogurt and the next day I tried the Tuna Poke with lentils, edamame and spicy mayo. Everything was fresh and very tasty.
The Loren has a plushy spa and spacious fitness center, both temporarily closed because of Covid. For adventurous guests, the staff arranges an array of off-site experiences such as fishing for mahi or wahoo, diving to some of the island’s 400 shipwrecks, golf (including night golf), whale watching, bird watching, swimming with dolphins, yachting, sunset sails, trips to the Bermuda Transport Museum to view antique cars and vintage motorcycles, 70 National Parks to explore, a Railway Trail to ride walk or run, and charming towns to visit such as St. George’s.
I am active and work out daily back home, but this was a vacation and I just wanted to see Bermuda without having to exert myself. Getting around the island is easy. You can rent a scooter, bicycle or electric car (watch out: the passenger sits directly behind the driver and while cute, these mini-vehicles are extremely uncomfortable for two). There are four scenic ferry routes to explore and the public pink buses come frequently. But for those who don’t want to have to drive on the left or depend on public transport (like me), the most practical and carefree way to explore the island is to have someone drive you, who knows the island and its history. The hotel hired Sam Matthews once more as my driver/guide. He showed up in his BMW limo, of course wearing his pink Bermudas.
Bermuda is such a fertile island with flowering plants and bushes everywhere. I barely know a marigold from a daisy, but Sam pointed out Oleanders, purple ice plants, Chinese plum, colorful hibiscus and many types of palm trees.
One of Bermuda’s top attractions is the beautiful Horseshoe Beach, a horseshoe-shaped beach bordered by natural limestone cliffs and large reefs for snorkelers to explore. Sam and I walked down to the beach and I took off my sandals and dipped my feet into a small cove where children were splashing around. The water past the beach was turquoise where the bottom is sandy and a darker blue where it dropped off and is deeper. There have been hundreds of shipwrecks here and in the area of the Bermuda Triangle. Sam explained this was because the water is so shallow, but the shipwrecks have also been attributed to rogue waves,
Our next stop was to the 354-foot tall Gibbs Hill Lighthouse on the South Shore, one of the few lighthouses in the world to be made of cast iron. There are 185 steps to the top, and because I’m a type A, of course I’d have to climb them (because that’s what I do). Fortunately, the stairwell was closed because of Covid. Ahhh, happiness.
We looked at the huge sea turtles outdoors at the Aquarium (also closed for now) and drove up to Fort St. Catherine which defended the eastern channel of Bermuda from the 1600s through World War II. We walked through Hamilton, Bermuda’s main port where the cruise ships land but, because of Covid, there weren’t any. We ran into Sam’s cousin and then his brother. Everyone we passed said hello. “Do you know all these people?” I asked.
“You say hello to everybody,” Sam said. “And why not? They’re people.”
We returned to The Loren in plenty of time for me to take a swim in the pool. As I entered the tepid water, the attendant came over and said, “Would you like me to turn the heat up?” Not necessary because the temperature was perfect. I then waded into the ocean, but it was a little too cold for me to swim.
At dinner that night, I talked to a few snorkelers who’d been in the ocean and saw parrot fish the size of dinner plates beneath the water. Then I met Chef Lourence Godinho from Goa, India, who has been in Bermuda for eight years and told me he likes to serves his food with pride, passion and perfection. His fish chowder with rum and hot sauce wasn’t thick and creamy like a normal chowder but had a thin dark delicious base. One one side of the bowel were pieces of rockfish, fresh greens and cherry tomatoes. The best chowder ever!
I followed this course with poached local snapper, farm fresh greens, sweet zucchini and herb yogurt. And while I don’t normally eat dessert, there was no way I was leaving without trying the Chef’s Red velvet cake .
I sat in the restaurant for a few minutes listening to the waves gently lap to the shore, and then I walked outside to a universe covered in stars. And thinking about all the natural beauty and friendly people I’d met on the island, it was easy to understand why Mark Twain said, “I’m staying in Bermuda.”
Trust me, I was ready to do the same.