Hotel Review: The Reefs, Bermuda
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Bermuda is one of TPG Contributor Sarah Silbert‘s favorite places to visit, thanks to friendly locals, beautiful scenery and an all-around relaxing atmosphere. Recently, she and her boyfriend escaped New York City to spend a long weekend on the island, staying at The Reefs for the first time — and it didn’t take long for her to see why it’s earned the distinction of being the best hotel in Bermuda.
Located on the beach in Bermuda’s Southampton parish, The Reefs offers 62 guest rooms, with accommodations ranging from poolside rooms to suites to private cottages. Thanks to its picturesque location with a deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the hotel is a popular wedding location; there were ceremonies throughout our stay, and it wasn’t even the warm season yet.
The Reefs doesn’t belong to a hotel chain, loyalty program, American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts or Visa Signature Hotels, so your only option is to pay out of pocket. We booked through CheapTickets using a 20% off promo code and were able to get the room for about $356 a night. Remember that credit cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard give you 2 points per $1 spent on travel — including hotel bookings.
After saying goodbye to Vaughn, who drove us the 40 minutes from Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA) in a snazzy Burberry-themed taxi (more on that in a future post!), we were greeted by The Reefs staff and led to the check-in desk in the hotel’s main building. An associate offered us each a Rum Swizzle, a popular Bermudian cocktail available at virtually every restaurant on the island.
In a matter of minutes we were ready to go, and our associate led us outside to meet another staff member who would show us to our digs; however, we twiddled our thumbs for several minutes until said staff member finally appeared and led us the 20 yards or so to our poolside room. This hand-off was a bit odd, as even under the influence of some rum, we could have easily found the room ourselves with some simple directions (like: “See that door right there? That’s your room.”).
The poolside guest room wasn’t particularly fancy, but it was spacious and comfortable, and offered a gorgeous view of the blue-green ocean, just beyond the infinity-edge pool — which was no eyesore itself.
The balcony was large enough for two lounge chairs, and we spent several hours out there each day, reading, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful sunsets. You’d think it would be noisy with the pool directly below the room, but thankfully this wasn’t the case. There were a few families with children, but overall The Reefs caters to a pretty tame crowd of couples and older travelers, which is probably why the atmosphere was so serene.
We found two complimentary mini-sized Gosling Rums and a can of ginger beer, the necessary ingredients for making Bermuda’s other famous cocktail, a Dark ‘n Stormy. We didn’t expect any extras, so this was a nice touch.
We ate dinner at Coconuts, a beachside restaurant on the property. Coconuts offers five-course private dinners for two on the beach, which we were excited to book. Unfortunately, our visit coincided with some windy, chilly weather, and we decided to eat at the restaurant itself instead — which was still plenty chilly. That said, the food was good, but not great. I blame the weather — and the fact that the waitstaff was shivering as much as, if not more than, we were — for the lackluster experience.
Ocean Echo, The Reefs’ other restaurant, offers fine dining with a great view of the ocean below. We didn’t get a chance to visit, and one night the space was closed off for a wedding reception.
As it sits right on the water, The Reefs offers lounge chairs and towels to guests who want to enjoy the private beach. You can even borrow a kayak (or two) if you’re feeling brave. There’s also the La Serena Spa in the main building, offering an extensive menu of massages, facials and more at relatively reasonable rates considering the property’s high-end pedigree.
For points and miles enthusiasts, The Reefs doesn’t offer any redemption opportunities, though you can earn 2 points per dollar by paying with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (which also waives any foreign transaction fees). While the lack of loyalty program participation is definitely disappointing, keep in mind that The Reefs is hardly alone; beyond the Fairmont Southhampton, Fairmont Hamilton Princess and Rosewood Tucker’s Point, pretty much all accommodations in Bermuda aren’t part of a chain. The upside is a unique experience that’s the opposite of “cookie-cutter,” but the downside is obviously paying out of pocket, with no premium perks.
Apart from that, the biggest issue was Wi-Fi. To connect, we often had to go out to the balcony, and even from there the signal was shaky. Of course, most guests at The Reefs aren’t there to work, and I wasn’t terribly inconvenienced by the lack of connectivity, but decent internet should be a given in this day and age. The main building where breakfast is served offers a much stronger connection, so you do have options if you absolutely must catch up on email.
I’ve stayed at fancier hotels with more bells and whistles, but The Reefs is special in a different kind of way. Its location is superb for exploring the island by scooter, and it’s a short walk away from the beautiful Horseshoe Bay. More than that, though, The Reefs just feels tranquil, and the staff was by and large friendly. Just be prepared to pay for the lovely ambience, as hotel loyalty programs are rare on this beautiful island.
Bermuda is a less than two-hour flight from East Coast cities, including Boston, New York and Philadelphia, with fares often under $300 round-trip, making this one of my favorite destinations for a long-weekend escape, even if I’m paying out-of-pocket.
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