By MEAGHAN CASEY
All eyes will be turned to Bermuda’s iconic Great Sound this spring for the 35th America’s Cup, where the world’s best sailors will battle for one of the oldest and most prestigious sporting trophies. Racing starts with the qualifiers on May 26 and the top challenger will meet defending champions — OracleTeam USA — in the final match presented by Louis Vuitton, beginning on June 17.
And with two-hour direct flights from Logan, there’s no better time to visit the shores known for crystal blue water and pink-sand beaches such as Elbow Beach and Horseshoe Bay.
WHERE TO STAY
The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, located in downtown Hamilton, within walking distance to the boutiques and restaurants, is the official hotel partner for the America’s Cup. Last summer marked the unveiling of a $100 million, top-to-bottom renovation of the resort. Of special note is the property’s museum-worthy art collection Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Nelson Mandela, Tom Wesselmann, Roy Lichtenstein and more. The hotel’s marina is the only full-service marina in Bermuda and houses up to 60 births. The Beach Club, which opened during the summer of 2015, is just a short shuttle ride from the hotel.
Perched on Bermuda’s stunning south shore (and less than half a mile from Horseshoe Bay), the luxurious, oceanfront Fairmont Southampton is offering a limited “Race to Bermuda” package, which includes access on the official spectator boat during the America’s Cup. Golfers will enjoy the resort’s Turtle Hill Golf Club and nearby Riddell’s Bay Golf and Country Club.
Also in Southampton is the Reefs Resort & Club, a boutique beachfront retreat. If you want to get in before the rest of the sailing spectators, the resort’s “Hot Spring Rates” delivers rates as low as $235 a night through May 24.
Tucked between 50 acres of gardens and private beach, Elbow Beach Bermuda Resort & Spa is an oceanfront enclave of classic style and contemporary luxury. It’s a perfect spot to explore the coral reefs or take advantage of watersports, while still being close to Hamilton.
On the east end, Grotto Bay Beach Resort & Spa sits on a tropical estate featuring dramatic caves and acres of woodland preserves along the water’s edge in Bailey’s Bay. Scattered over 21 acres and sloping down toward three private beaches are 11 colorful cottages in traditional Bermuda architecture.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Named after the biennial Newport-to-Bermuda sailing race, Newport is a nautical-themed restaurant in the Fairmont Southampton. It offers Bermuda’s only true gastropub experience, complete with a charcuterie station and fresh raw bar. Save room for the decadent Bermuda banana sticky toffee pudding with Gosling’s rum caramel sauce for dessert.
The extensive four-page dinner menu at Blû Bar & Grill includes something to suit every taste, whether you’re in the mood for a burger, sushi, grilled fish or homemade pasta.
Located at Belmont Hills Golf Course, it offers spectacular views overlooking the Great Sound.
The Island Restaurant Group’s Frog and Onion Pub and the Pickled Onion pay tribute to the island’s namesake onion, while being popular watering holes.
The rum swizzle at the landmark Swizzle Inn has consistently been voted the best.This island favorite (and Bermuda’s national drink) is a delicious combination of rum, juices, falernum (local sweet syrup) and a few extra secret ingredients.
Located inside the Hamilton Princess and overseen by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, Marcus’ offers Southern favorites like chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits alongside Caribbean-influenced dishes.
Port O’Call, the two-level seafood restaurant and sushi bar is one of the few ground-entry dining spots on Front Street in Hamilton, with an outdoor dining area reminiscent of a European sidewalk café.
You can’t leave Bermuda without trying the popular fish sandwich from Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy. At its center sits perfectly fried snapper, topped with tartar sauce, coleslaw and hot sauce and sandwiched between soft whole wheat bread or raisin bread.
WHERE TO SHOP
You’ll find traditional Bermuda shorts and other preppy, island staples at the iconic English Sports Shop. Check out the Vineyard Vines shop on Front Street, which opened last July, for official America’s Cup gear. Coral Coast Clothing features menswear inspired by the colors of the local architecture, ocean and beaches. The famed British department store Marks and Spencer is another must-see in downtown Hamilton.
For gourmet rum cakes to sample or take home, visit Horton’s — the original bakers of the rum cake and a favorite of the locals —or the Bermuda Rum Cake Company.
OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS
Just prior to the Cup, thousands of people will crowd the streets of Hamilton on May 24 to celebrate Bermuda Day with a parade, music, dancing and other festivities. The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta — a 7,000 nautical mile trans-Atlantic race visiting six countries — comes to Bermuda on June 1-5. From here, the tall ships will make their way to Boston.