Friday, January 29, 2010

Media Watch

As someone who regularly writes for travel magazines, I often find it difficult to remove myself from the content when reading travel magazines—especially when I’ve got a unique perspective on a featured destination or hotel. Take Travel + Leisure’s latest issue for example. In addition to other passion-inducing vacation ideas, the February issue has a roundup of the world’s 50 Best Romantic Getaways. At number 19 is Bermuda and Tucker’s Point Hotel & Spa, an excellent choice, but it’s hard to get a feel for a place in a paragraph that’s less than 100 words (83 to be exact). So in the spirit of being thorough, here are a few highlights that T+L forgot. First the 83 words in question:

Inspired by an era of horse-drawn carriages and cricket matches, Tucker's Point Hotel & Spa is the first luxury resort to open on Bermuda in almost four decades. Situated on 200 acres overlooking Castle Harbour, the hotel’s 88 guest rooms come with everything you could hope for in an old-world Caribbean retreat: mahogany beds, deep soaking tubs, and balconies. The white-tablecloth Point Restaurant & Terrace showcases local ingredients—caramelized sea scallops; pecan-and-herb-crusted sea bass—and is adorned with large murals depicting 19th-century clipper ships.

Okay, first things first. Bermuda is not in the Caribbean. I’m still unsure why it continues to get lumped in with the down-island crowd, but beyond popular belief, Bermuda is less than a two-hour flight from most east coast gateways. And it’s in the Atlantic. As for those guestrooms, the writer’s correct about the mahogany beds, soaking tubs and balconies, but beyond what’s pictured on the hotel’s website are top notch amenities and room classes—most notably the deluxe poolside rooms, which include their very own personal outdoor cabana. You know those people who throw towels on chaise lounges to reserve a spot by the pool? Book these rooms and you’ll no longer have to battle the early-birders. As for The Point, the restaurant is indeed one of Bermuda’s finest—after all, it hosted Premier Ewart Brown’s state dinner when Queen Elizabeth came to visit last November—but it’s also worth noting that it’s one of the island’s most formal: Show up without a jacket and men will be given a blazer from the restaurant’s oh-so-stylish collection. Finally onto those “large murals depicting nineteenth-century clipper ships.” Here’s your Bermuda Shorts fact of the day: Tucker’s Point Hotel & Spa has long been owned by the Trippe Family, its patriarch being Pan Am Airways owner Juan Trippe. When Juan ruled the airways, he’d hang out in the Sky Club atop the company’s New York City headquarters (formerly the Pan Am Building, now the Met Life Building). In 1966 he commissioned artist Gerard Henderson to paint a set of murals depicting the world’s major ports of the 1880’s. When time came to construct The Point in Bermuda, the Trippe family had the famous murals moved from Manhattan to the walls of its newest restaurant, where they’re now proudly on display for the world to see.

They're actually quite lovely and certainly worthy of more than a passing sentence. But I get it. I'm in this business too. I understand that word counts preclude magazines to write about the hotel's championship water-view golf course, or its brand new relaxation spa or even the outdoor pool, which happens to be the biggest in Bermuda. I understand. But that's what I'm here for. So T+L, on behalf of Bermuda, thanks for the coverage. Here's hoping you can squeeze a bit more space for us in the future.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Calling All Brides To Be

Destination weddings are big business in Bermuda. Not only is the island super accessible—less than a two-hour flight from most east coast gateways—but Bermuda boasts some of the most beautiful backdrops anywhere in the world: Stunning sunsets, powdery pink sand beaches, turquoise waters and much, much more. Best of all you don’t have to go all the way to the Caribbean for the picture-perfect day. Don’t forget, Bermuda is a lot closer than you think. Thank goodness then for this latest news from the Pink Beach Club, a 94-suite cottage colony in Tucker’s Town, also known as the ritziest neighborhood in Bermuda. Couples who tie the knot at the beachfront hotel will receive 10% off room rates when booking ten rooms or more in 2010. Sorry June brides, the offer is not available from May 28 through July 5, but the good news is the discounted rate includes a full English breakfast, afternoon tea and five-course dinner daily, which can save you and your guests beaucoup bucks on the big day (for more information go here). Looking to save even more? Then consider holding out awhile for The Best Deal In Town: At an event celebrating the Fairmont Hamilton Princess’ 125-th anniversary—more on that later—General Manager Jon Crellin announced that the historic hotel will be giving away a “very special destination wedding to Bermuda.” Said Crellin, “We will partner with Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine, Saks Fifth Avenue and Jetblue to promote the giveaway throughout North America to create excitement about a wedding in Bermuda with the Fairmont Hamilton Princess as the backdrop.” A free wedding? Now that’s a deal! If I wasn’t already married I think I’d be dropping to one knee. Details have yet to be released but rest assured you’ll find out as soon as I do (or you can pop into the Fairmont Hamilton Princess website regularly for updates). Now raise your glasses. Toast. And clink.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spanning the Globe

I’m not really sure how it all happened, but it’s been quite an international week. Yesterday I told you about South Africa’s own Soweto Gospel Choir, a passionate ensemble that kicked off the Bermuda Festival of Performing Arts with versions of classic folk and reggae tunes plus traditional African hymns. (Thanks to the anonymous commenter who indeed appreciated the Rasta rhythms here in Bermuda. Mark your calendar anonymous, because I hear the choir is considering a gig in Salsipuedes). Continuing to span the globe, on Sunday I attended a Burns supper, basically a celebration of the life and poetry of Scottish poet Robert Burns. What does this entail actually? Plenty of tartan, lots of single malt scotch and a whopper of a meal including Scottish faves such as tatties and neeps—better known as mashed potatoes and rutabaga—roast lamb and everyone’s favorite, haggis, a traditional dish made with sheep’s heart, liver and lung, minced with oatmeal, onions and spices then cooked in a casing of sheep’s intestines. Trust me, it’s much better than it sounds. Dare I say tasty, even? No, you can’t get it in the States but according to this report in the New York Daily News haggis will soon be available at a grocery store near you. Be happy America. Be very very happy. Moving along, yesterday I took part in a celebration of Australia Day. What? You’ve never heard of Australia Day? Here’s a thirty-second history lesson: On January 26, 1788 the first European settlers, led by Captain Arthur Phillip, landed in present-day Sydney. Sadly, though quite to the point, January 26 is also known as Invasion Day by indigenous Australians. Nevertheless it’s a national day of celebration, much like Independence Day in the U.S. or Bastille Day in France. So to toast our compatriots Down Under, I shared a meal with Aussy friends at 64 Degrees, a brand new restaurant at Port Royal Golf Course, which proudly boasts the best Australian chef in all of Bermuda. Troy, if you’re reading, thanks again for those seven spice pork chops with adobo and apple chutney. You’re doing your country proud. And so my brief tour of the world ends there, no doubt with more to come on an island chock full of interesting people. Bermuda, I couldn't have done it without you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Got Culture?

It’s not every day one gets to hear a soulful South African choir sing rousing renditions of Bob Marley’s One Love and Paul Simon’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, but that’s exactly what happened to me on Saturday night. Just as I’d predicted, the Soweto Gospel Choir was the perfect beginning to this year’s Bermuda Festival of Performing Arts—a weeks-long music, theater and dance festival that kicked off last Wednesday. And judging by the boisterous applause the ensemble got from the crowd, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the show. Formed in 2002, the choir has quickly become an overnight sensation, not only winning Grammy Awards for best traditional world music album in 2007 and 2008, but also performing for esteemed guests, most notably Nelson Mandela at the first of the 46664 concerts in 2003 (its name derived from the South African leader’s prison number). They’ve since performed the world over collaborating with Bono, Peter Gabriel and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers during a concert in Germany. Beyond the choir’s passionate voices, it entertained the crowd with spirited dance and four thumping percussionists who wowed the audience with their brand of African drumming. Considering this was the choir’s second visit to Bermuda it’s likely they’ll be back again—so for all of you who missed the show, be sure to tune in this time next year. My tickets were worth every penny. In the meantime stay tuned for the festival's next big performance: the Afro-Cubano Latin Lazz Orchestra led by pianist Arturo O'Farrill. Now that's good times.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Grow it. Shave It. Beat it.

Inspiration comes in many forms. For some it’s the glimmering ocean or the promise of another blue sky. For others it’s a song, a sound, or a symphony. And still for others it’s something altogether different—maybe a look into a loved one’s eyes or the flavors of a favorite meal. Whatever it may be, inspiration makes us rise to the occasion. Makes us better individuals. Inspiration comes in countless forms, yes, but who knew that one man’s bald head would inspire so many of us? Turns out more people than I thought. I learned this last night, as a proud attendee of a fundraiser to benefit St. Baldrick's Foundation. Its mission is simple: With the help of cancer patients who elect to shave their heads before they lose their hair to chemotherapy, the non-profit organization uses the donations raised by the volunteer’s network of supporters to fund childhood cancer research. As a result, St. Baldrick’s has funded more childhood cancer research than any organization in the United States—an awe-inspiring statistic that could not have been made possible without people like Rob Lane. An esteemed member of the Bermuda community, Rob was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s follicular lymphoma in December, a cancer of the lymphatic system that while treatable, remains incurable. As he said to the crowd who gathered to watch his blond locks fall to the floor, “It’s the cancer you want to have.” Although those who know Rob know that he could think of his cancer in no other way. His positivity is infectious. His outlook constantly sunny. His smile the widest in the room. Because of his courage Rob raised $78,111, and counting, for St. Baldrick’s Foundation in addition to a reported $5,000 cash stuffed in a hat by generous attendees at last night’s event. And then, just like that, someone who openly bid $600 for the privilege of doing so shaved Rob’s head in front of the crowd. His kids finished the job, Norelco razors in hand, camera bulbs flashing. And when it was all said and done, Rob and his newly bald head stood up, thanked the crowd profusely and continued to smile some more. Last night was not just about cancer. It was a celebration of life. About how we as individuals can help to inspire others. Rob sure has and no doubt you can too. For more information on how you can donate to St. Baldrick’s Foundation go here and to help Rob reach his $150,000 goal, donate here. And the next time you're searching for inspiration don't forget the unlikely places where you just might find it. I sure won't.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gold Stars For Everyone!

There’s been much in the news lately about the support individuals, companies, and nations around the world are giving to Haiti in its time of need. How the Red Cross text messaging campaign has raised more than $20 million, how actor George Clooney is hosting a telethon to raise even more, how his Fugee-ness and Bermuda Music Festival star Wyclef Jean is swooping in to help his homeland (amidst false allegations that his foundation Yele Haiti wasn’t really doing its job in the first place). Even in Bermuda folks are doing their part to help, starting from the top down. The first gold star goes to Government and Bermuda Aviation Services (BAS) for waiving terminal fees and handling charges for all flights heading to Haiti needing to stop at L.F. Wade International to refuel. Given Bermuda’s unique location in the Atlantic, 15 aircraft have stopped at the airport en route to the Caribbean island and no doubt there’ll be more to come. Three cheers BAS! The next gold star goes to the Genesis Foundation, a local non-profit organization that’s sending a container full of first aid, supplies, canned goods and water in the coming days. Nice work Genesis Foundation! Next, a big gold star goes to BLING Book Club co-founder Glen Jones who donated $2,000 on behalf of his charity, which encourages young children to read books (BLING stands for Books Lead Individuals to New Greatness). Well done Glen! As previously mentioned, local cell phone carrier Digicel has pledged $5 million in disaster relief, in addition to ramping up it much-needed communications systems on the island. Gold stars to you, Digicel! And last but certainly not least, a shiny gold star goes to the people of Bermuda, who’ve collectively donated $136,000 in seven days to the local Red Cross. To you Bermuda—and to all those aforementioned—I applaud you. Job well done!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Deal of the Day

Hotel rooms from $89 a night? In ritzy Bermuda? Welcome to January, when the temperatures are in the mid-60s and low season bargains come rolling in. Check out this latest deal from the Bermuda Department of Tourism: Book now for travel valid between February 1 and March 31 and you’ll receive 50% off listed room rates at participating hotels. That means you can stay in an ocean view room at the beachfront Grotto Bay Beach Resort for $89 a night; in a deluxe room with private balcony at the Fairmont Southampton for $129 a night; or in a one-bedroom suite at the harbor front Newstead Belmont Hills Golf Resort & Spa for $145 a night. Still not convinced? There are four other hotels to choose from—including Aunt Nea’s Inn, Coco Reef Resort, Fairmont Hamilton Princess and Elbow Beach Hotel—even better, you’ll be given a coupon booklet good for up to $1,000 in combined savings at island golf resorts, restaurants, spas and more. Here are just a few sample discounts to whet your appetite: Buy one round of golf and get the second round free, rent one scooter and get the second half price, buy one spa treatment and get a free mani/pedi, or buy one entrée and get the second half price (valid at over 15 participating restaurants). So what are you waiting for? Swami says a spring getaway to Bermuda is now within reach. For more information check out Bermuda’s 50% Off Sale. But act quick: The sale ends January 27.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

And The Award Goes To...

It’s no secret that Bermuda has some of the best SCUBA diving anywhere in the world. Thanks to healthy coral reefs that encircle the island, Bermuda boasts a thriving marine ecosystem in addition to some serious relics of the past—shipwrecks and lots of them. Fortunately us islanders aren’t the only one’s who’ve noticed. In SCUBA DIVING magazine’s 2010 Reader’s Choice Survey, Bermuda was selected as the number one destination for wreck diving in the Atlantic and Caribbean (along with placing third for best snorkeling and beginner diving in the region). The magazine notes that Bermuda has “more than five centuries’ worth of fascinating wrecks” and that you can dive “everything from a French three-masted wooden warship that hit the reef in 1838 (L’Herminie) to a Civil War-era paddle-wheel blockader (Montana) to a nearly 500-foot-long luxury liner that rests in only about 50 feet of water (Cristobal Colon).” Best of all, “these wrecks are part of the Bermuda Shipwreck Certificate program, which provides divers with free certificates highlighting the history of 21 of the estimated 300 ships that ring the island, just for diving it.” I don’t know about you but that sure sounds like a good time. Now what about that third place award—you know, the best beginner dive spot in the region? Even non-certified divers can take the plunge by booking an introductory dive on the Constellation, a four-masted schooner that sunk in 1943 and now sits in a mere 30 feet of water (the same ship in fact, that author Peter Benchley found inspiration from when researching his novel, The Deep). For more information contact Bluewater Divers & Watersports. In the meantime, three cheers to you Bermuda! More than 5,000 readers can’t be wrong, right?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kudos To...Digicel

It’s not every day we hear good news about our cell phone carriers. And no, I’m not talking about signal boosters, added coverage or rollover minutes either. Last week Digicel announced that it will donate $5 million to support relief efforts in Haiti, following the widespread devastation caused by the 7.0 earthquake that hit the island on Tuesday. (What? You still haven’t donated? Go here to find out how you can help.) Bermuda’s largest mobile phone carrier is also the largest foreign investor in Haiti, having set up communication services on the impoverished island in 2006. Sadly, the Digicel headquarters in Port-au-Prince is one of the few buildings to remain standing in the capital, but the good news is the company is putting its full weight behind relief efforts. In addition to the much-needed funds, Digicel has also sent a team of experts to asses any and all damage to its communications infrastructure, a move that not only benefits the company, but more importantly assists relief workers and news organizations reporting the disaster. And for that Digicel, I applaud you (pause for hip hop hoorays followed by boisterous clapping). Here’s hoping more companies follow your lead to help those most in need. For more on how you can help in the recovery effort, go here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti Needs Your...

We’ve all heard the terrible news from Haiti, about the catastrophic 7.0 earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation on Tuesday, devastating thousands of lives. And while it’ll likely take years for its people to return to normalcy—whatever that may be in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country—the good news is the global community has quickly pulled together to aid the impoverished nation. Looking for ways to join the relief effort? Organizations like the Red Cross, UNICEF's Earthquake Fund and former President Bill Clinton’s Clinton Foundation are reliable institutions to make a monetary donation. As is Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation, a non-profit organization the musician started in 2005 to assist his native land (yes, there’s much more to Wyclef than his tuned up physique and crazy-good entertaining abilities). Even local charities are playing a role in disaster relief. In Bermuda, island residents can donate to the Bermuda Red Cross, which is accepting donations via bank account (Bank of Bermuda #010-187417-011; Bank of Butterfield #20-006-060-663859-200) as is the local branch of the Salvation Army (Bank of Bermuda #010-202-539-001 or donate online here). Want to eat your way to salvation? Then head to Bermuda Bistro at the Beach on Thursday, January 21, when the Front Street bar hosts an all-you-can-eat ribs and curry chicken dinner for $19.95—half of which will get donated directly to Red Cross Haitian Relief. I don’t know about you but I’m feeling very hungry at the moment. So, what are you waiting for? Even the smallest donations can help so I'll make it easy for you. Text YELE to 501501 to donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. You'll make me, and Wyclef, incredibly proud.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Deal of the Day Part Deux

Yesterday I told you about the latest promotion from The Reefs—a seasonal special that offers guests weather-dependent discounts on drinks and spa treatments. In my infinite wisdom I said that it wasn’t quite a deal. That after doing the math, it amounted to not much money saved. Let me be clear. Sure, the 68 & Sunny Guarantee is gimmicky, but it does provide added value nonetheless. Here’s more from the resort’s Managing Director, Ben Tut, who was kind enough to leave a thoughtful comment on yesterday’s post: “We appreciate your honesty in your article on our off-season weather guarantee. Our goal is to invite travelers to visit Bermuda and offset any concerns they may have about cooler weather. We offered this guarantee not as a stand alone “deal” but as an added incentive that’s combinable with all of our special offers. Our rates include daily breakfast, afternoon tea and gourmet dinner for two, which add to the value of vacationing at this time of year. If you’re looking for a deal, I'd recommend the Take 5 or the Winter Break packages that give you one night free. Then if the weather is bad there's a bright side at the bar. Thank you for your continued support of The Reefs and Bermuda Tourism.” Well sir, I stand corrected. But for the record I would’ve called it the When It Rains We Pour Guarantee. Just sayin'. In the meantime, for more special offers from The Reefs go here. Happy travels!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Deal of the Day?

This just in from The Reefs, a beachfront hotel in Southampton that was recently named the best resort in the Atlantic by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler: If the temperature in Bermuda fails to reach 68 degrees Fahrenheit, guests will receive 20% off all beverages for the day, and, if the sun is shining at 10 a.m. guests will receive a certificate for 10% off one spa treatment at its new La Serena day spa, good for stays until March 15 (for more go here). I’m all for hotel deals but this seems like a stretch, no? First of all let’s address the weather. If you plan on jetting to Bermuda this week or next, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be sipping discounted drinks—according to the Bermuda Weather Service, weekly highs are around 64 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year. But a stay in February or early March? Sorry Charlie. Methinks you’ll be paying full price for those rum swizzles. And as for the sun shining at 10 a.m., I’d say you’ve got a 50/50 chance to receive 10% off at the spa, which, if you sign up for a 60-minute relaxation massage, amounts to a savings of—wait for it, wait for it—ten bucks. Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t stay at The Reefs during your Bermuda getaway. It’s a lovely hotel and if you’re at all into sunsets, well, you can’t go wrong (see above; that's the view from its outdoor terrace). But I think I’ve gotta call Howie Mandel on this one. Deal or no deal? I say no deal, Reefs.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Money Matters

Calling all executives: Want a great place to do business? According to the folks at SwiftJet—a private jet charter company based in Toronto—Bermuda is one of the most popular destinations for executives flying by private plane. Why is that you might ask? "When executives charter private jets they want to maximize their best assets, employees and time," says Bassam Al-Sarraj, president of SwiftJet. "Being able to travel on your own schedule down to the minute is essential and that's the flexibility of private jet charter."
Gotcha. But why Bermuda? Unfortunately Mr. Al-Sarraj wasn’t available for further comment, but his PR team was quick to point out the findings of the Bermuda International Business Association (BIBA), an organization of island-based companies, which provide services and products to offshore clients. “The principal attraction of Bermuda is its established reputation,” says a recent BIBA press release. “Specifically, Bermuda has long been established as a financial centre, having sanctioned its first exempted company in the 1930s and now boasting a client base that includes many of the world's blue-chip companies and high net worth individuals.” And here I thought it was the island’s pink sand beaches and its close proximity to the East coast! Although there’s no doubting Bermuda’s well-respected standing within the international financial community. Major insurance and banking institutions have long set up shop here to profit from Bermuda’s favorable tax structure. It’s not quite Switzerland or the Cayman Islands for that matter, but there are indeed incentives for doing business here, which is largely the reason why Bermuda is such a special place. Tax deductions mean profit and profit leads to community incentives—what amounts to huge reinvestments in island infrastructure, education and outreach. So, the next time you execs consider chartering a Falcon 20 F-5 (see above), be sure to tell the captain you’re headed to Bermuda.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Just For Laughs

What do you call a New Yorker, a Canadian, a Brit and a reality television star stuck on an island? Wait for it, wait for it. Bermuda’s Just for Laughs comedy show at the Fairmont Southampton (sorry, that was the best I could come up with). The much-anticipated laugh-fest took place this weekend, and although my hopes weren’t terribly high for a group of relative no names, I left feeling pleasantly surprised and 100% entertained. Reality television buffs should remember the night’s host, Alonzo Bodden, who was not only runner-up on Season 2 of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, but came back the following year to win the grand prize in 2007 (take that John Heffron). Also on the bill was Godfrey, a laugh-at-his-own-jokes New Yorker who had the crowd in tears with his brand of men-are-from-Mars-women-are-from-Venus comedy (not to mention laugh-out-loud jokes about his Nigerian father. Absolutely hysterical). Next up, Hal Cruttenden, an Englishmen in a well-pressed suit who was quick to note that he was, “not gay, just very, very British.” Well done, Hal. Well done. And bringing up the rear was Canadian Jeremy Hotz, a small cynical man whose comedy was delivered through his own depressing life prism. To each his own, I guess. This being the fourth official installment of Just for Laughs Bermuda, it seems we islanders can look forward to another rousing performance early next year. Based on this weekend's show, I for one will be the first person in line.

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's Good News!

That headline always used to make me laugh. The editors of my hometown newspaper would use it on occasion, no doubt to help clarify that indeed what followed was not another horrible account of burglary, murder or downtrodden man—which always seemed kind of sad. Is all news inherently bad? Have we come to expect that everything we read in our daily newspapers will undoubtedly be negative? I for one don’t think so. There’s no question that bold-faced headlines sell papers, but how about moving the good that people do up front, instead highlighting the miscreants that stir society’s pot? Take this story buried on page 15 of yesterday’s Royal Gazette. It’s about Raleigh International, a youth development organization that aims to empower and educate young Bermudians through a vast network of mentoring programs. Through donations, partners and corporate sponsors Raleigh is able to help kids ages 17-25 reach their full potential as young adults—mainly teaching them how to avoid day-to-day risks including drug and alcohol use, crime and anti-social behavior among others. Even better the organization takes kids on a ten-week overseas expedition, where participants work on community and environmental projects that not only help them grow personally, but empower the local population (see above). I’m not talking about picking grapes in France, either. In 2007 kids traveled to Namibia and Borneo, where they worked with villagers to build a kindergarten, cultural center and library. Which was really just the tip of the iceberg: They also collected data on desert dwelling elephants, participated in underwater cleanup operations and constructed aviaries for rare and endangered birds. How’s that for confidence building? Best of all participants are one hundred percent sponsored, again through the goodness of private donations and fundraisers. Raleigh's latest drive to raise capital is called the Kinabalu Challenge—basically a mini Survivor in Malaysia, with ten teams of four Bermuda residents hiking, biking, and rafting their way through the rainforest to raise money and awareness for this great organization. I for one applaud Raleigh and its good work. If you agree, feel free to visit its website to learn how you can make a donation. And perhaps next time there’s good news to report, the powers-that-be will place it where it ought to be: Page one.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sail On

Gentlemen, start your engines. Or whatever the sailing equivalent of preparing for a major race is (Hoist the sails? Batten down the hatches?). According to Cruising World, the Notice of Race for the 2010 Newport Bermuda Race has officially been posted, which essentially means all you sailors hoping to enter the “thrash to the Onion Patch” have until March 30 to enter the historic international ocean race (thanks for the pic PPL photo agency). What? You’ve never heard about the Newport Bermuda Race? Founded in 1906 as the first ocean race for amateur sailors, the race has since become one of the world’s premier sailing events—a 635-mile open-ocean contest, most of it out of sight of land. Every two years in mid-June a fleet of nearly 200 boats in five classes set sail from Newport, Rhode Island, to the Royal Naval Yacht Club in Hamilton, Bermuda, and luckily for us islanders, this is the year. The race kicks off on June 18 and normally takes five to six days to complete. Which means right around the weekend of June 25, there should be a big 'ol party here in Bermuda. Tourists, book your hotels now. So what are you waiting for? If you’d like to take part in one of the greatest open-water adventures in the Atlantic, I’d suggest you get cracking. And if any of you captains out there feel like bringing a blogger turned amateur sailor aboard, consider me—and Bermuda Shorts—reporting for duty.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Festival Time

Got the January blues? Well, don’t fret my friends—those Christmas winds will disappear faster than Santa on a Sym. In the meantime get out your pens and mark those calendars because there’s an exciting lineup of cultural, theatrical and musical events coming to town thanks to the 2010 Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts. There’ll be over a dozen performances from January through early March (many at the City Hall Theatre; see above) but just in case you’re having a tough time deciding which events you should attend, I’ve taken the time to pick some early favorites. Kicking off the festival from January 20-23 will be the Soweto Gospel Choir, a soulful South African ensemble that not only won Grammy Awards for best traditional world music album in 2007 and 2008, but also performed at the first of the legendary 46664 concerts for Nelson Mandela in the 2003 (sadly, 46664 was Mandela’s prison number). Next up, from January 29-31 will be the Moscow Circus—or as l like to call it, Cirque du Soleil Lite—featuring flying acrobats, zany Russian clowns (are there any other kind?) and a grand finale that’s rumored to involve dancing bears. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like fun for the whole family. February 6 is sure to be the festival’s highlight, when the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra takes the stage for one night only. Led by legendary pianist Arturo O’Farrill, the fiery orchestra will perform its brand of upbeat Cuban jazz (Note: Really, don’t miss this one. I’ve seen these guys play in New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center a handful of times and they are, how you say? En fuego). Shakespeare-a-philes shouldn’t miss the mid-February production of As You Like It, performed by none other than Manhattan’s own Aquila Theatre Company. And with early March comes a gala evening of ballet with performers and principals from the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre backed by a duo of live musicians—all in all a stellar line up of cultural events. For a full listing of what's playing at this year's Bermuda Festival of Performing Arts go here. In the meantime, I’ll see ya at the show!

Monday, January 4, 2010

End of An Era

The New Year isn’t the only thing that has come and gone in Bermuda. (What? You haven't read my 2009 Year in Review yet? For shame!) If this weekend’s packed shows at Henry VIII are any indication, it’s a safe bet that the island will surely miss one of its most beloved performers: After 12 years of twinkling the ivories in Southampton—and a few more at the Cock and Feather in Hamilton before that—singer/pianist/and all-around-fun-guy Dave Bootle will be taking his show on the road. Of course the news isn’t all that bad. Rumor has it he’s headed to Key West, Florida, where he’ll be performing his crowd-pleasing tunes at yet another sunny locale. Sure, I’ve only been in Bermuda for eight months now, but based on the few times I’ve seen Dave perform, Key West is in for a real treat. Margaritaville, anyone? In the meantime if you’re wondering what's it's like to perform for crowds of adoring fans for 12 years read this. And if you're craving a little Bootle-love pop into his website for samples of his music and updates on where he’ll be playing next. And to you Mr. Bootle, Bon Voyage! Go ahead and show those Parrotheads who’s boss.