From May 26th through June 27th, Bermuda will host the America’s Cup presented by Louis Vuitton, the world’s oldest and most prestigious sailing event. The competition will draw six teams comprised of the world’s best sailors to the crystal blue waters of Bermuda’s Great Sound for the first time in the event’s 166 years.
The America’s Cup races are steeped in history, dating back to the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Annual Regatta around the Isle of Wight in 1851. An unusual looking Schooner named America, owned by the fledgling New York Yacht Club (NYYC), unexpectedly emerged from the mist, surpassed all 15 yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron and came out to win the trophy. The trophy was later renamed America’s Cup and since the 1850s, has been held in trust as a perpetual challenge trophy to promote friendly competition among sailing nations.
Like past editions, the 2017 America’s Cup will be a grand test of athleticism, sailing prowess and nautical design, as well as fund-raising and management skills. But several factors are making this year’s competition much different and potentially, much more exciting to watch. Many eyes are focused on Emirates Team New Zealand after the breathtaking conclusion of the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco, which, many say, was the greatest comeback in sports history. The Kiwis were up 8-1, but Oracle Team USA fought back, finally winning 9-8 and retaining the trophy they won in 2010.
The Kiwis are hoping to take the cup from defending champion Oracle Team USA with a newly designed boat, launched earlier this year. Fans will notice a major change in design to the grinding pedestals; instead of having the traditional setup where the sailors stand and use their arms to grind, they’ve set it up so the pedestals are like bikes. The idea generally being that legs will generate more power than arms. Sounds good in theory, but getting in and out of the bikes will add more time to the process, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Speaking of the Kiwis, they’re the only team who hasn’t signed the event’s new framework agreement. Earlier this year, teams and race organizers came together for the first time in race history to discuss the future of the races, and outlined new rules. One of the major changes of the new agreement is the allowance of training sessions ahead of the start of official cup racing. The teams have been training in Bermuda over the past several weeks, and early reports say that Oracle Team USA and Artemis, which recently added Olympian Jake Lilley to the team, are the fastest looking boats.
Bermuda is preparing up for one of the largest parties it will ever host, and anyone traveling to the island to watch the world’s Grand Prix of sailing will love every second. Here are a few of the best spots to check out on the island.
Tucker’s Point in St. George’s on the north end of the island is steeped in history. While the private Tucker’s Point Golf Club has been around since 1932, the adjacent resort is relatively new. Originally opened in 2009, Rosewood Resorts took over the management of the 88-room Tucker’s Point in 2011. The new resort sits atop one of the highest hills on the northeastern end of Bermuda, next to Castle Harbour and with ocean views from almost every room and window. Rather than opt for a minimal contemporary look, Tucker’s Point remains true to its location with rooms decorated in a Georgian colonial look, complete with canopy beds, wainscoting and freestanding tubs. The resort has an impressive four pools (considering its relatively small size), including a 25-meter lap pool and another reserved for adults. Not so much a complaint as a caveat: while the resort has an enviably large beach (unlike many Bermuda properties), it’s a five-minute shuttle ride away.
If some laps in the pool or splashing in the surf don’t constitute sufficient exercise, guests at the resort also have access to the Tucker’s Point Club. This 18-hole course was originally laid out in 1932 and then redesigned in 2002 by Roger Rulewich, former chief designer for Robert Trent Jones. Greens fees start at $205 through mid-September and $225 after. What’s more, guests of Tucker’s Point also receive playing privileges at the renowned Mid Ocean Club, which consistently ranks among the world’s top 100 courses. Originally designed in 1921 by Charles Blair Macdonald, the historic course was enhanced in 1953 by architect Robert Trent Jones.
A smaller, yet equally lavish resort, The Reefs, a villa only resort in Southampton is also a great stay if you can afford. A beloved fixture on Bermuda’s South Shore since 1947, The Reefs, which Conde Nast rated #1 in the region (including Bermuda, Bahamas and Turks & Caicos) is family-owned and operated by the Dodwell family, native Bermudians whose passion for island living and gracious hospitality has delighted generations of loyal guests. Nestled in a pink sand cove surrounded by Bermuda’s wind-swept limestone cliffs, The Reefs echoes the island’s enduring elegance, blending it effortlessly with a youthful, make-our-own-rules spirit that charms friends old and new.
A less expensive alternative to Tucker’s Point and The Reefs, The Fairmont Southampton, right down the street from The Reefs is a great deal with a great location. If you can get by the size and color—affectionately known as the “pink elephant” due to it’s size (400 rooms) and light pink facade—the Southampton has a ton to offer at a very reasonable rate. Fairmont’s Private Beach Club is situated on one of Bermuda’s finest beaches, a secluded private cove with Bermuda’s signature pink sand. The cove is somewhat protected from rough water due to a large rock just a short swim out (you can walk to it during low tide). It also happens to be an easy and convenient location to put on your snorkel and mask and see some of Bermuda’s beautiful fish. If you want a larger beach, the world-famous Horseshoe Bay Beach, a curved stretch of pink sand that connects to other South Shore Beaches, is just steps away. The Southampton also has two pools including a kid’s pool with a slide.
Cambridge Beaches, Elbow Beach Resort and The Hamilton Princess are also solid options and not too pricey.
If you’re not staying at Tucker’s Point (and you’re not a member or don’t know one) then Mid Ocean is not an option. But many will argue that the prestigious Port Royal Golf Course is just as good—and easily as beautiful. Originally designed by famed course architect Robert Trent Jones in 1970, the Port Royal Golf Course of Southampton Parish underwent a $14.5 million refurb back in 2009. It now features resewn fairways and tee boxes, a new irrigation system and a grandiose clubhouse. Although the course has incredible ocean views, at 6,842 yards, it is also Bermuda’s longest and perhaps most challenging course so beginners beware. (Non-members can book a tee time at Port Royal Golf Course up to seven days in advance. The course is public and open to all players daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.). But be prepared to pay hefty greens fees and book well in advance.
For a less highfalutin activity, and one that is completely free, the beaches in Bermuda are a top-of-the-list activity. Whether your beach time is of the more active nature (walks, swimming, frisbee) or the less active (sunbathing) there is no place on Bermuda more pristine to waste the day away than Horseshoe Bay Beach. Always ranked among the top beaches in the world, it is easily on par with the best stretches of sand in the Bahamas and Caribbean.
To say Celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelson’s namesake restaurant Marcus’ in the Hamilton Princess Hotel is breathtaking would be an understatement. Arrayed with modern art from the hotel’s owners, including original pieces by Andy Warhol, Liu Ye and Nelson Mandela amongst others, the space is visually striking, The signature restaurant occupies the former Gazebo Room, once a grand ballroom, offering a central bar and views of the ocean. An open kitchen creates a show all in its own, with chefs creating Samuelsson’s specialty including Jerk Pork Belly, and tantalizing Fried Chicken & Waffles. Additional dishes pay tribute to Bermudian culture, such as Grilled Bermuda Onion and Fish Chowder Bites among others. The restaurant features a full beverage menu with signature and classic cocktails, a well-rounded selection of wine and beer, and a new spin on a local favorite, ginger beer-based Darker and Stormier.
The only true beach bar and bistro on the island, Mickey’s Beach Bistro—or just “Mickey’s”—on Elbow Beach is loved by locals and visitors alike. Sip an island cocktail prepared by Bermuda’s best bartenders while listening to the waves break and gazing at the wide open Atlantic. Their eclectic menu and versatile wine list rounds out a great overall experience—a must stop while on the Island.
For cheaper eats, head to Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy (in Hamilton and in St. George’s) for what many—including Marcus Samuelson himself—believe to be the best fish sandwich on the island. The traditional Bermudian fish sandwich — deep-fried and served on raisin bread with lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce, coleslaw, and perhaps a touch of hot sauce and some sauteed onions — is one of the best fish sandwich anywhere.
Bermuda is a unique island in that it has many of the characteristics of the tropical islands in the Bahamas and Caribbean but it is undoubtedly subtropical—it is on approximately the same latitude as the Carolinas. So while the peak season in August and September may feel balmy and lend itself to island (rum) drinks, much of the year is more temperate. This, combined with the fact that Bermuda is a British territory, steeped in British culture and cuisine, results in food and drink options that are just as much pub fair-oriented as they are beach bar.
A less formal option than Mickey’s, Sea Breeze, also located at Elbow Beach Resort and positioned just above the famous stretch of sand, is an open-air terrace, with stunning, panoramic views of Elbow Beach’s pink sand and the wide open, blue atlantic waters. It’s a wonderful spot in which to enjoy cocktails from the bar, an aperitif before dinner or drinks under the stars.
Over in the more bustling Hamilton Parish lies The Swizzle Inn, a landmark known as Bermuda’s oldest pub and favored by both locals and visitors. It also happens to be the birthplace of Bermuda’s original Rum Swizzle, the deliciously potent national drink made with Goslings Black Seal Rum, Barbados Rum, Triple Sec, pineapple juice, orange juice, Bermuda Falernum, and Angostura Bitters.
For more British style pub fair, head to the The Frog and Onion Pub which calls an old barrel making building home and is also attached to the Dockyard Brewing Company. This authentic British-style pub was created in 1992 by a Frenchman (Frog) and Bermudian (Onion), hence the name. The historic Cooperage, completed in 1853, was converted to five storehouses in the 1940s. With the pub serving great comfort food, it pairs perfectly with an ale from Dockyard Brewing Co., Bermuda’s only microbrewery. Featuring 5 different types of beers and ales, it is a favourite destination of locals and tourists alike who wish to sample artisanal beverages of exceptional quality.
Bermuda has a ton of history and perhaps nothing symbolizes it more than St. Peter’s Church in St. George’s. Established when Bermuda was settled by the Virginia Company in 1612, for over 400 years this has been the church of the Town of St George. It is a cultural and historic icon, a holy place at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also the oldest Anglican Church outside the British Isles and the oldest Protestant church in continuous use in the New World.
On May 26th 2017, Bermuda—renowned for its crystal blue water and pink sand beaches—will host the 35th America’s Cup. The eyes of the world will turn to Bermuda’s iconic Great Sound—turned natural amphitheatre—where the best sailors on the fastest boats will battle for the oldest trophy in international sport. Racing starts with the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers on 26th May and the top Challenger will meet Defending Champions ORACLE TEAM USA in the 35th America’s Cup Match beginning on 17th June, 2017.
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This article was originally featured on GoodLife Report. Reprinted with permission.
Whit Cook is the Founder/Publisher of GoodLife Report (GLR), a lifestyle website geared towards men and women who like unique products and experiences. GLR editors have written for prominent publications and web sites including Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado, Travel+Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, Men’s Journal and Pursuitist.