Bermuda's Pandemic-era Pivots Have Turned It Into a Prime Vacation Destination
After years of planning — and some last-minute pivots — Bermuda is emerging from the pandemic as one of the world’s most easy-to-visit destinations.
Back in March, my wife and I enjoyed a private five-course tasting menu aboard the Azalea, a 40-foot catamaran operated by True Bermuda Charters. Aside from the captain, first mate, and chef, there wasn't another soul in sight as we cruised around Hamilton Harbour.
Co-owner Nicole Patracuolla had watched demand for her charters dwindle during the pandemic, so she shifted from group excursions and corporate events to more intimate sails like ours. "Switching gears to bespoke dinners has definitely helped attract new clients," Patracuolla told me.
You'll find that same mindset most places you look in Bermuda, where existing businesses are reinventing themselves and new projects are bolstering the tourism economy. Taken together, these innovations have helped turn a small Atlantic nation known for its relaxed vibes, candy-colored cottages, and palm-lined islets into a forward-thinking destination — one that's ready for whatever the future holds.
Related: The Best Things to Do in Bermuda
"The key is to stay nimble," Patracuolla says. Here's how Bermuda is doing it.
L. F. Wade International Airport has a brand-new $400 million terminal that opened in December. Featuring a number of firsts for Bermuda, including six covered Jetways, automated immigration gates, and free on-site COVID testing, the 288,000-square-foot facility is served by two-hour flights from numerous East Coast cities. Airlines have recently added new nonstops to and from Charlotte, North Carolina; London Heathrow; and Ponta Delgada, in the Azores.
Just a 10-minute taxi ride from the airport, the St. Regis Bermuda (doubles from $910) is a 120-room luxury resort that opened in May. Home to the country's first casino and flanked by a powdery pink-sand beach, the hotel is also selling 30 two- and three-bedroom residences, starting at $1.6 million. In another first for Bermuda, owners of the St. Regis condos will also be entitled to permanently live and work on the island, thanks to regulations approved by the government in March.
Going to Sea
This British territory has been a cruise destination for decades, but of the 196 ships scheduled to arrive in 2020, only four made it to Bermuda before sailings were paused. Partly in response to the loss of that industry, which brings in $167 million a year, the island has persuaded major lines to make the country their home port for the first time. Royal Caribbean (from $938 per person) will offer seven-night cruises from Bermuda to the Bahamas and back in July and August, while Viking (from $1,799 per person) has planned eight-day voyages that circumnavigate the island this summer.
Other innovations are making it easier and more convenient to get around on land. Visitors can now hop behind the wheel of a variety of electric vehicles, including two-door cars with sunroofs from Localmotion and drop-top electric Hummer HXT SUVs from Rugged Rentals. Two sections of the 18-mile Bermuda Railway Trail have been linked by a new bridge over Flatts Inlet, creating a continuous biking route between Shelly Bay Beach and Palmetto Park, near Hamilton.
A version of this story first appeared in the July 2021 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline Ready for Anything.