Britain's oldest colony is celebrating its 400th birthday with the opening of its first luxury hotel in over 35 years. The flagship of Bermuda's tourism renaissance is part of the exclusive Tucker's Point Club, and harks back to an era when the beau monde arrived on the island paradise by Pan Am clipper flying boat.
Set in 200 waterfront acres, it's built on the clifftop site of the Castle Harbour Hotel, once frequented by the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. Today, New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, have homes nearby.
The oyster-coloured Manor House borrows from traditional Bermudian design with dark-green shutters and a brilliant-white ridged roof. Inside, the style is British colonial, with a cool and contemporary twist: marble flooring, fragrant Bermuda cedar woodwork, exquisite bespoke furnishings and distinctive artwork.
The landscaped gardens are dominated by towering palms and tangles of vivid hibiscus. With a host of sporting activities on offer, numerous dining options, three Hockney-blue infinity pools, and a private pink sand beach, you have to remember not to neglect the rest of the island.
The 88 spacious rooms and suites range from superior rooms at 500 square feet, to the Walsingham Suite at 1,650 square feet. All house enormous marshmallow-soft beds, sumptuous fabrics, huge tubs, walk-in wardrobes and original art, as well as all the hi-tech necessities (flat screen TVs, free Wi-Fi and iPod/MP3 player docks). All have French windows and balconies with panoramic views of the startlingly blue Atlantic, and the de luxe poolside rooms have steps down to a whimsical four-poster daybed.
The food and drink
The Point restaurant is the island's hottest fine dining option, where the great and the good of Bermudian society mingle with club members and hotel guests. On the walls, striking murals from the Pan Am building in New York depict the world's major ports of the 1880s; in the cellar, 3,000 bottles of vintage wine. Crisp white linen, bone china, French silverware, and delicate orchids grace the tables plus food from the award-winning chef who favours fresh, local produce like grilled swordfish served with little neck clams or Bermuda-farmed chicken breast stuffed with pine nuts and chanterelles. Mains average $26 (£16), while the five-course "Land & Sea" tasting menu costs $80 (£49). There's also al fresco dining at the flower-covered Pergola Terrace restaurant or you can take dinner by candlelight in a poolside cabaña overlooking pink sand at the Beach Club, before a classic cocktail or two at the wood-panelled Tucker's Bar.
Two rooms are modified for guests with disabilities, and electronic buggies traverse the resort. Children are welcome; no pets.
Explore the reefs, snorkel over shipwrecks, kayak around the coast, or charter a catamaran and sail past "Billionaire's Row" with the Dive Shop and Water Sports Centre. On dry land, play a round of golf on the 18-hole championship course, or tennis on the Har-Tru clay courts, take a turn at croquet, workout in the fitness centre, or try t'ai chi on the terrace. If that all seems too active, the tranquil spa offers a full range of treatments, including the Bermudian-inspired natural aloe massage for sun-frazzled skin.
The writer travelled with Prestige Holidays (01425 480400; prestigeholidays.co.uk), who are offering seven nights at Tucker's Point from £1,318 per person this November, based on two sharing a superior room, including return BA flights from Gatwick, room only accommodation, and return airport transfers.
Tucker's Point Hotel and Spa, 60 Tucker's Point Drive, Hamilton Parish, Bermuda (001 441 298 4000; tuckerspoint.com).