A New Bermuda

Romantic dinners can be arranged on the private beach at the Reefs.Photo: Moxley Associates

Mayor Bloomberg isn’t exactly P. Diddy. So it’s nosurprise that his weekend escapes to Bermuda haven’ttouched off a wave of New Yorkers flocking to theisland. Here’s what may: The lush British islesuffered its worst tropical storm in half a centurylast September when Hurricane Fabian pounded itsshores, 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 majorface-lifts, and as Bermuda rolls into its high season(water temperatures are ideal in late summer),stylishly renovated properties are replacing thecheesy, run-down options that have kept the island onthe Not-It list in recent years.

Bermuda’s appeal still lies in its simple charms:limestone cottages in Easter-egg hues; pink-sandbeaches; and warm, welcoming locals who zip around theisland on scooters. If there’s a whiff of Wasp snobbery, there’s also anair of quiet sophistication.

Sporting types can enjoy great snorkeling, a rocky coastline that lends itself to kayaking, andeight excellent golf courses, all with ocean views(the best two are the legendary Mid Ocean, anotoriously difficult layout, and Tucker’s Point,where big-spending part-time residents like RossPerot, Silvio Berlusconi, and Bloomie tee it up).There’s also a small harborfront area downtown, whichoffers a nice walk and cute shops. Check out the IrishLinen Shop and the quartet of Euro-boutiques on ReidStreet that includes Stefanel (trendy women’s threads)and Sasch (stylish menswear). Mediterraneo, arguablythe island’s hottest new restaurant, brings calamari,whole-roasted fish, and a bit of sleek hipster appealto downtown (ask for a table on the open-roofterrace). Private sunset dinners on the beach are aBermudan resort specialty. Try the Reefs or CambridgeBeaches, where the staff will motor you out to a smallprivate island, seat you at a table lit by tikitorches, and serve up a feast of lobster, oysters,crab, and the daily catch.

The Fairmont Southampton and the Sonesta (reopenedlast month as a Wyndham hotel) have both undergonefull makeovers. But the most talked-about renovatedresort is the now-chic Elbow Beach. The MandarinOriental property has abandoned its former chintzyflorals for a more Zen approach: Cottages areoutfitted in cool stone floors and blond woods, withfluffy white bed and bath linens. The resort’spreviously popular beachfront restaurant, Lido, anddance club, the Deep, are set to open later thissummer; the expanded spa, which opened on July 1, iseasily the island’s most luxurious.

Photo: Frances Janisch

The BahamasParadise Island’s popular Ocean Club resort just uppedthe cushy-accommodations ante with the debut of threeprivate oceanside villas. The three- and four-bedroom,4,000-square-foot properties are set apart from thehoi polloi rooms, and offer personal infinity poolswith treadmills, butlers, and private chefs(800-321-3000; oceanclub.com; from $3,500 a night).

The HamptonsFor a place so obsessed with vanity, the Hamptons arestrangely short on spas. No matter: Rent a beach housefor a week or more from Hamptons Retreats, and they’llset you up with masseurs, facialists, personal fitnessinstructors, and health food—even the fluffy robes andtowels. The best part? The only other guests will bethe ones you invite (631-259-8000).

South CarolinaOpening at the end of the summer, the Inn at PalmettoBluff brings a dose of luxury to Carolina Lowcountry.Modeled after gracious southern homes, the 50 cottagesboast fireplaces, screened-in porches, pine floors,and plush bed and bath linens. There’s also therequisite world-class spa and Jack Nicklaus– designedgolf course (843-757-3333; from $450).

LondonHoward Sobel, cosmetic surgeon to some of ParkAvenue’s choosiest faces, brings his DDF line ofskin-care products and spa treatments to London’sswank Berkeley Hotel. Berkeley guests can zip up tothe rooftop Health Club & Spa for a quick WrinkleRelax, Dramatic Radiance, or Skin Smoothing Peel(44-207-201-1699).

Palm BeachUnderstanding that New Yorkers may want to vacate the city during theRepublican National Convention, the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach isoffering a $450 rate for three nights (the standard rate is $275 for onenight, or $825 for three) between August 29 and September 3. Call800-432-2335, and mention the Get Outta Town package.

A New Bermuda