A Taste of Bermuda
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Afternoon tea in Bermuda perfectly encapsulates the vibe of this island. Everything here is properly British – yet with a distinct island twist: A pot of Earl Grey is served with a shrimp and watercress-stuffed mini-croissant, plus a rum scone with Devonshire clotted cream and lime jam.
I’m enjoying tea from my capital city perch at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess hotel, which this year celebrates its 125th anniversary. The hotel is a beloved traditional fixture, known locally as the “Pink Palace.” The history of this elegant hotel, however, is not without a tantalizing hint of intrigue. During the Second World War, the Hamilton Princess was intelligence HQ for the allied secret agents and even served as temporary home to a real-life Commander Bond (reportedly the basis for Ian Fleming’s rogue agent 007).
A few parishes and an entire mindset away from the Hamilton is the sprawling Fairmont Southampton on the island’s South Shore. I sit on the outdoor terrace of the Ocean Club, sip the signature Ocean-tini (vodka, rum and vibrant blue Hpnotiq liqueur) and feast on harissa-spiked tuna tartare and rockfish in a complex kaffir lime leaf sauce. The meal reveals the worldly palate of Sri Lankan talent Sanjay Leeme, senior chef de partie, whose resumé includes a stint working with a French master chef. Leeme brings the best of both worlds to the cuisine, using local seafood catches whenever possible and “mixing Asian flavours into European cuisine.”
The seascape is also a thing of marvel. As I splash along Horseshoe Bay Beach, near the Fairmont Beach Club, the ocean is a harmony of blue in green. The beach reminds me of the dreamy interlude I enjoyed at the luxe Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Southampton: The smooth stones used in my hot-stone massage were black like the island rock; the rose- and cedar-scented oil reminiscent of Bermuda’s heady flora.
Another sensory encounter awaits in the Town of St. George, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here I find the Bermuda Perfumery, which has been making its own distinctive fragrances under the Lili Bermuda brand since 1928.
Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, the French-Canadian owner and master perfumer, leads me to the maceration room, where essential oils commingle in enormous bottles, then to an atmospheric, cedar-beamed room boasting perfume-making paraphernalia from bygone eras and jars stuffed with orrisroot, oak moss and musk seeds. One of Ramsay-Brackstone’s latest scents is South Water, a coconut milk, sea salt and juicy guava blend. “I call it Liquid Bermuda because to me it smells like the beach. It’s incredibly sultry and flirty.”
I dab it on my wrist; like Bermuda itself, it’s perfection, with just a hint of wild abandon.
Text: Randi Gollin
Photos: David Shan