Mayor Bloomberg isn’t exactly P. Diddy. So it’s no surprise that his weekend escapes to Bermuda haven’t touched off a wave of New Yorkers flocking to the island. Here’s what may: The lush British isle suffered its worst tropical storm in half a century last September when Hurricane Fabian pounded its shores, leaving a $180 million mess in its wake. Ten months later, tourists are reaping the benefits. Many of the most popular beachfront hotels, resorts, golf courses, and restaurants have undergone major face-lifts, and as Bermuda rolls into its high season (water temperatures are ideal in late summer), stylishly renovated properties are replacing the cheesy, run-down options that have kept the island on the Not-It list in recent years.
Bermuda’s appeal still lies in its simple charms: limestone cottages in Easter-egg hues; pink-sand beaches; and warm, welcoming locals who zip around the island on scooters. If there’s a whiff of Wasp snobbery, there’s also an air of quiet sophistication.
Sporting types can enjoy great snorkeling, a rocky coastline that lends itself to kayaking, and eight excellent golf courses, all with ocean views (the best two are the legendary Mid Ocean, a notoriously difficult layout, and Tucker’s Point, where big-spending part-time residents like Ross Perot, Silvio Berlusconi, and Bloomie tee it up). There’s also a small harborfront area downtown, which offers a nice walk and cute shops. Check out the Irish Linen Shop and the quartet of Euro-boutiques on Reid Street that includes Stefanel (trendy women’s threads) and Sasch (stylish menswear). Mediterraneo, arguably the island’s hottest new restaurant, brings calamari, whole-roasted fish, and a bit of sleek hipster appeal to downtown (ask for a table on the open-roof terrace). Private sunset dinners on the beach are a Bermudan resort specialty. Try the Reefs or Cambridge Beaches, where the staff will motor you out to a small private island, seat you at a table lit by tiki torches, and serve up a feast of lobster, oysters, crab, and the daily catch.
The Fairmont Southampton and the Sonesta (reopened last month as a Wyndham hotel) have both undergone full makeovers. But the most talked-about renovated resort is the now-chic Elbow Beach. The Mandarin Oriental property has abandoned its former chintzy florals for a more Zen approach: Cottages are outfitted in cool stone floors and blond woods, with fluffy white bed and bath linens. The resort’s previously popular beachfront restaurant, Lido, and dance club, the Deep, are set to open later this summer; the expanded spa, which opened on July 1, is easily the island’s most luxurious.
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The Bahamas Paradise Island’s popular Ocean Club resort just upped the cushy-accommodations ante with the debut of three private oceanside villas. The three- and four-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot properties are set apart from the hoi polloi rooms, and offer personal infinity pools with treadmills, butlers, and private chefs (800-321-3000; oceanclub.com; from $3,500 a night).
The Hamptons For a place so obsessed with vanity, the Hamptons are strangely short on spas. No matter: Rent a beach house for a week or more from Hamptons Retreats, and they’ll set you up with masseurs, facialists, personal fitness instructors, and health food—even the fluffy robes and towels. The best part? The only other guests will be the ones you invite (631-259-8000).
South Carolina Opening at the end of the summer, the Inn at Palmetto Bluff brings a dose of luxury to Carolina Lowcountry. Modeled after gracious southern homes, the 50 cottages boast fireplaces, screened-in porches, pine floors, and plush bed and bath linens. There’s also the requisite world-class spa and Jack Nicklaus– designed golf course (843-757-3333; from $450).
London Howard Sobel, cosmetic surgeon to some of Park Avenue’s choosiest faces, brings his DDF line of skin-care products and spa treatments to London’s swank Berkeley Hotel. Berkeley guests can zip up to the rooftop Health Club & Spa for a quick Wrinkle Relax, Dramatic Radiance, or Skin Smoothing Peel (44-207-201-1699).
Deal of the Week
Palm Beach Understanding that New Yorkers may want to vacate the city during the Republican National Convention, the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach is offering a $450 rate for three nights (the standard rate is $275 for one night, or $825 for three) between August 29 and September 3. Call 800-432-2335, and mention the Get Outta Town package.