Looking for a good night's sleep? Instead of buying that new mattress you've been thinking about, perhaps you should instead sock the money into a vacation at the deluxe Cambridge Beaches resort in Bermuda. You'll fall asleep to the song of singing frogs, awaken to a cheery call of "Room service," then dine on your balcony to the sounds of the sea lapping below while you stare out at the blue, blue sea. Perhaps if you stay here long enough, you might be able to develop a healthy sleep habit that translates to your bed at home.
Of course you'll want to spend some time relaxing on one of the resort's namesake beaches, and playing with the little fishies in the bathtub-warm water. And you'll want to have a least one gourmet dinner in the casual, open-air, oceanside dining room.
Cambridge Beaches was the first of the many "cottage colonies" that are unique to this temperate semi-tropical island. (Just a little speck isolated in the Atlantic Ocean midway between the Caribbean and NYC, Bermuda is not one island. It is actually a tight cluster of small islands linked by causeways.) Cottage colonies usually consist of a central public building--where visitors go for dining and other activities--surrounded by luxurious guest cottages. A similar noteworthy property is Ariel Sands, the cottage colony resort owned by Michael Douglas and family (his lineage can be traced in Bermuda back to the 1630s).
Though there is enough at Cambridge Beaches to keep any guest happy for the length of a vacation—afternoon tea, a croquet lawn, a putting green, tennis courts (Bermuda introduced tennis to the western hemisphere), two swimming pools, five private beaches, a spa—most guests will want to explore some of the island's sights.
Bermuda is not the typical sun, surf, and sand destination. It is an other world. In fact, according to Jaws author Peter Benchley, "There's no mountain hiking and the skiing is terrible, but everything else a vacationer could want is here."
A good start to exploration is to hop the ferry into Hamilton—the island's capital--for some tax-free shopping.
And spend at least half a day in the four-century old town of St. George. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the oldest continuously inhabited town of English origin in the Western Hemisphere and has the oldest Anglican Church—St. Peter's. Look for the colorful, and noisy, Town Crier, and stop for a photo op in the replica stocks in King's Square.
Garden aficionados can view orchids, fruit orchards, and banyan trees at the Bermuda Botanical Gardens (private homes and gardens welcome visitors from early April through mid-May during the annual Open Houses and Gardens tours), while dolphin lovers can actually swim with these gentle creatures in stone-walled tanks at the Royal Navy Dockyard. Hikers and bikers can trek the scenic 21-mile Bermuda Railway Trail, novice sailors can charter a sailboat with crew, spelunkers can explore Crystal Caves, divers can explore the myriad wrecks offshore (Remember the legend of the Bermuda Triangle? There have been more shipwrecks here than anywhere else in the world, and the island inspired Shakespeare's mystical play “The Tempest.”), deep-sea fishers can try for wahoo and marlin, historical house lovers can tour the antique-filled Verdmont Museum house and birders can visit Dr. David Wingate on Nonsuch Island to learn how he reintroduced the indigenous Cahow bird.
Should you need something more to tip the scales in favor of a visit to this Bermudiful spot, here is some food for thought:
●Things you won't find in Bermuda: billboards, fast-food franchises, strip malls, neon lights, sales tax, rental cars, croaking frogs.
●Things you will find in Bermuda: high tea, fish chowder, Dark and Stormys (the island's signature drink made with dark Bermuda rum and ginger beer), rum cake (Horton's just might be the best), rental motor scooters, pink buses, friendly taxi drivers, cricket, more golf courses per square acre than anywhere else in the world, blushing beaches, unique whitewashed stepped roofs that channel rainwater into underground storage tanks, the world's narrowest drawbridge, men dressed to the nines in Bermuda shorts and knee socks, singing frogs.
●PLUS: Everyone speaks English. The U.S. dollar is worth the same as the Bermuda dollar and is good everywhere. You can drink the water.
Carole Terwilliger Meyers blogs at Travels With Carole.
copyright 2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers