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    by KATE POCOCK
    Family Travel Ink

Romantic Bermuda Bliss


“Here for a little R ‘n R?” asked our Bermudian taxi driver as he flung our bags into the trunk of his car. “No, we’re here for the three R’s,” I quipped.

“What, reading, writing and arithmetic?” he asked, perhaps thinking my husband and I were visiting teachers. “No, Rest, Relaxation—and Romance,” I declared. My husband and I had just endured a winter of minor woes. We needed a romantic spring getaway that would erase the grey months and remind us, after more than 20 years of marriage, just why we had got together in the first place. So we picked Bermuda, known as a honeymoon hideaway. With its secluded pink beaches and sparkling turquoise waters, the isolated setting some 600 miles off the coast of the Carolinas seemed ripe for romance.

My husband’s only stipulation? “I’m not buying a pair of those Bermuda shorts,” he warned. He just couldn’t see himself playing the part of Romeo with knobby knees showing above knee socks. I agreed with him so hey, no problem.

The only debate ensued when deciding where we would practice our forgotten romantic arts. Would it be an intimate guesthouse such as Rosedon Hotel, where tea was served each afternoon on the expansive verandah and the tree frogs sang all night in the back garden? Or the grand pink ladies, the Fairmont Southampton Princess and Fairmont Hamilton Princess hotels, where a candlelit dinner could be served on our private balcony or even on the beach by an attentive butler? We finally decided on three nights at Ariel Sands, a pinky-colored cottage hotel colony owned by Michael Douglas. After all, didn’t he know a thing or two about romance? The resort was oceanside with its own private beach and also one of the few classic hotels that didn’t require a jacket and tie for dinner, a prerequisite for my laid-back gourmet-loving husband.

After checking into our tiny perfect pinkish cottage by the sea, we wandered the property that used to be the family farm. Douglas and his cousins cavorted here during summer vacations. Today, it’s also home base for visiting celebrities such as Jack Nicholson and Danny de Vito, whose autographed photos hang in the hotel bar. The Zeta Jones clan visited last Christmas with baby Dylan. But the cottages were spaced out far enough along the beach-fronted lawn so that even if Jack and Danny were partying it up, we would still have our privacy. From our miniature verandah, where breakfast would be served each morning, we had our own private view of the swaying palms, the unique ocean-fed lap pools by the water’s edge and the statue of Ariel from Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, running out to sea.

I liked all the pink that we had seen when driving in from the airport. Pink buses, pink sand, pink Bermuda shorts on the most distinguished of gentlemen, pink cottages in hues of sherbet and champagne, pink dresses on little girls and pink blossoms in profusion along paths and roadways. It was enough to put even the most stressed northern psyche into a mellow mood. My husband liked the fact that there were hidden beaches all around the island from crescent moons of sand to long swaths of wave-lapping shores.

At dinnertime, we hopped a pink bus into Hamilton and strolled into the dining room of the pink Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel to admire the oceanside view. From the terrace, we could see the lights of the city twinkling onto the bay. And for dessert, we indulged in a decadent array of chocolate desserts including chocolate fondue, peanut butter rum and chocolate pie, chocolate walnut German torte, a white chocolate berry concoction and a chocolate cake favored by Italian skiing sensation Alberto Tomba. A fine start to our three-day program of sensual delights.

Over the next few days, we hunted for romance and found it. We did touristy things like the Town Crier’s dunking of the malicious gossip every day in St. George’s, a World Heritage Site, or the Royal Naval Dockyard where Rambo the sheep oversaw his flock of ewes on the fortress lawn. But we also escaped the crowds. There were secluded pink beaches at the tips of the islets making up Bermuda, underground Crystal Caves dripping with wetness, moon gates to pose under and forested walks along the Rail Trail alive with purple passion flowers and the flamboyant Kiskadee bird.

One morning, we sailed out along the coast on one of the passenger ferries, identified by a unique local guidebook as one of “The 100 Best Places to Kiss, Snooch and Snuggle in Bermuda.” Other locations? How about Lover’s Lane, a street in Paget’s Parish? Or, by the dimly lit North Rock exhibit at the excellent small Aquarium where divers fed schools of small and large fish in the bubbling, frothing tank.

Along the way, we stopped to sample the island’s excellent cuisine washed down with its famous cocktails—Rum Swizzle, described by comedian Bob Hope as an orange slice, a lemon slice, a pineapple wedge and a cherry, all floating in eight ounces of hangover,” and Dark ‘n Stormy, a mixture of local black rum and ginger beer. We imbibed this last treat in our own dark and stormy setting at Coconuts restaurant below the Reefs Club. As we ate tropical seafood and delectable dessert by candlelight, we looked out onto a wild beach. That night, we fell asleep to the sound of howling winds and crashing waves.

We had heard that one of the founding fathers of Bermuda, Admiral Sir George Somers, had asked that his heart be buried on Bermuda while his body sailed back to Britain in a barrel of alcohol. His wish was granted. You can visit the monument in Somers Garden in St. George’s. Well, our hearts came home with us, but they arrived all that much healthier from our island fling. As Mark Twain said, “Sometimes a dose of Bermuda is just what the doctor ordered.” Good medicine indeed, guaranteed to cure the winter doldrums and revive the romantic in any of us.

SIDEBAR: GETTING MARRIED IN BERMUDA

It’s easy to get married or renew your vows in “Bermudiful” Bermuda. There are dozens of choices for romantic nuptial settings from one of the 109 churches to botanical gardens or a favourite secluded beach. A few local traditions you might want to follow: Bermudians serve two cakes, one for the groom wrapped in gold leaf to signify wealth and a multi-tiered fruitcake for the bride, wrapped in silver leaf to signify purity. The bride also arrives at the wedding in a horse-drawn carriage.

If you’re interested, file a “Notice of Intended Marriage” with the Registrar General at least two weeks prior to the wedding (more if you want a church wedding). Enclose a money order, cashier’s cheque or bank draft of $176 US (for ceremony and marriage certificate) made payable to the Accountant General, Hamilton, Bermuda. No personal cheques. Two weeks after receiving the notice, the Registrar General may issue the marriage license, valid for three months from date of issue. Send Notice to The Registrar General, Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament St., Hamilton, HM 12, Bermuda, 441-297-7709, Fax 441-292-4568. Forms may be obtained from Bermuda Department of Tourism (see Bottom Line). Copies of final divorce decrees must accompany the Notice if either of you has been divorced.

Many island properties arrange the ceremony for you and offer honeymoon packages that include sunset sails, couple open-air massage on the beach and horse-and-carriage rides. For a free brochure, Weddings and honeymoons, call 1-800-BERMUDA or check out www.bermudatourism.com.

BOTTOM LINE

TRANSPORTATION: Air Canada flies daily non-stop to Bermuda from Toronto. US Air flies daily from Toronto through connecting flights in the U.S. A three-day bus and ferry pass in Bermuda costs only $23 U.S.

ACCOMMODATION:

  • Rosedon Hotel in the main city of Hamilton, 441-295-1640 or visit www.rosedonbermuda.com. A double room with breakfast and afternoon tea on the elegant verandah from $204 U.S.

  • Fairmont Hamilton Princess or Fairmont Southampton Princess, 1-800-441-1414 or visit www.fairmont.com. A unique feature: candlelight dinners served on your balcony or on the beach by a private butler. Rooms from $209 US.

  • Ariel Sands on the South Road in Devonshire, 1-800-468-6610 or visit www.arielsands.com. A pinky cottage with a small verandah including breakfast and afternoon tea from $300 U.S. per night.

    MORE INFORMATION: Call the Bermuda Department of Tourism at 1-800-BERMUDA or visit www.bermudatourism.com.
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