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Four Reasons to Go to Bermuda Next

They all converge at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club.

Exterior of the Fairmont Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. Photos courtesy of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

There are, to my mind, at least four compelling reasons to stay at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club hotel in Bermuda.

Reason number one: It’s in Bermuda. That island is a 90-minute flight from New York, and when you arrive, you feel immensely farther away than the amount of travel time might suggest. The island is lush and green and has a more varied topography than many Caribbean islands, which are essentially flat, rocky scrub. And the local architecture, British-derived but adapted to its island habitat, is colorful and lovely and has a welcome consistency. The Hamilton Princess, which is about a three-minute walk from the city of Hamilton, is a distinctive example of that architecture. With over 400 rooms, it’s a big hotel. But it’s washed in a distinctive pink (like the famous sand of Bermudian beaches) and has a low profile for a hotel of that size.

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Number two: The Hamilton Princess combines a sense of history with modern luxury. Originally named Princess Hotel, it opened in 1885, the brainchild of a prominent local businessman named Harley Trott who was convinced that wealthy Americans would want to come to Bermuda if they had an elegant resort at which to stay. (One such tourist would be Mark Twain, a frequent guest.)  The Princess was one of the first hotels on the island, part of the origins of today’s tourism economy in Bermuda, and over time it became an icon. During World War II, American and British intelligence officers used the hotel as a center for intercepting and reading mail crossing the Atlantic on ships and planes; British intelligence officer Ian Fleming visited to get a better understanding of the work and would later base his James Bond story Quantum of Solace in Bermuda. It’s also believed that the giant fish tank that appears in Dr. No was based on a similar tank at the Hamilton Princess.

 

  • Flagpole marina view. Photos courtesy of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

 

Old hotels can sometimes mean run-down hotels, coasting on past reputations—after all, the coast of renovating a grand old hotel is enormous, and the process takes years—but the Hamilton Princess has the advantage of new owners Andrew and Alexander Green. The brothers come from a prominent local family that has invested in a number of hotels, and they have the money to renovate a big one. Since they bought the Hamilton Princess in 2012, the Greens have invested a reported $100 million in room renovations, the development of a marina, the addition of a new fitness center and spa, and more. The combination of old and new provides an enticing combination of old world charm and modern amenities.

Three: The Hamilton Princess has an outstanding restaurant, Marcus’, by chef Marcus Samuelsson. I loved Marcus’ when I dined there recently. With an open kitchen and a beautiful view of the marina, the room felt sophisticated but not pretentious. The cooking is ambitious, yet grounded in simple local staples: fresh fish, jerk chicken, vegetables with a sort of Afro-Caribbean flair. I couldn’t decide on an appetizer, so I had two, fish chowder bites and crispy buttermilk cauliflower, both excellent. It’s hard to argue against having anything but fish when you’re on an island, so I ordered a whole red snapper for my entrée. It was grilled to accentuate the freshness of the fish, which tasted like it had been caught only hours earlier. (It had been.) Celebrity chef outposts can sometimes feel like calculated brand extensions; Marcus’ is exceptional.

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My final reason why the Hamilton Princess remains such an appealing hotel: It could double as an art museum. The Greens are art collectors, and they stock the hotel with remarkable pieces of art that would almost certainly otherwise be tucked away in private collections. Their taste runs from Matisse and Magritte to Warhol, Haring and Christo to Hirst and Koons and Kaws, all of whose work you’ll see throughout the Hamilton Princess. It’s not quite the same as having them in your home, but to experience these pieces while you’re dining or reading or having a drink is very different than it is to experience them hanging impersonally on the walls of a crowded art museum. The works shown change regularly, and every Saturday there’s a guided art tour. It’s hard to imagine many hotels where such a tour would actually be worth the time. Here, it adds another compelling element to a hotel that’s already rich with them.

For more information, visit thehamiltonprincess.com

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