Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bermuda for Budget Travelers?

It was back in September 2009 when the New York Times Travel section published my story, 36 Hours in Bermuda. In case you missed it I covered the island’s best and brightest: Dinners at Mickey’s and Port O Call, golfing at Port Royal, happy hour at Newstead, snorkeling at Church Bay, plus a handful of others like scoping out paintings at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art or where to get Bermuda’s best fish chowder (for my money, it’s still a toss up between Hog Penny and the Lobster Pot; discuss). Well, it looks like the Grey Lady has struck again, this time with a story from it’s newest reporter, Seth Kugel, who recently took over the Frugal Traveler column from budget-traveler extraordinaire Matt Gross. Frankly, I never thought Bermuda had a chance of landing in the column titled "Hurricane Season, Bargain Hunting in Bermuda," what with $40 dinner entrees and hotel rooms hovering around $250 a night, but Kugel does point out a few inexpensive winners. He raved about The Commissioner’s House in Dockyard, a bonafide piece of nautical history that I love taking visitors to and for $2.50, you can’t get a better view from the top of Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse, a site that he also seemed to enjoy. I also agree that the island's public bus system is one of the best and cheapest ways to get around. But the rest of the story just seems, let’s say, a bit off. Who comes to Bermuda for bacon and egg toast at Angeline’s, then has the gall to call it “soulless?” Or a hamburger lunch at New Traditions, a meal he later called “mediocre?” The one meal he did enjoy was at Breezes at Cambridge Beaches, a dinner he didn’t even pay for, which makes sense since there’s no way the beachside restaurant’s $31 sea bass fits within his Frugal Traveler budget. And what about that room he rented on the east end? I’m sure it’d be great for college kids or backpackers, but that’s just my point. The island doesn’t cater to college kids or backpackers. Or even budget travelers for that matter. Look, there’s nothing wrong with attempting to squeeze more value out of your vacation dollar—as a former editor of Budget Travel magazine, saving money while on the road has long been one of my tenants of travel—but Bermuda’s not really a budget travel paradise. It’s just paradise. Period.


  1. Excellent post. A pleasure to read such fair, measured and accurate criticism of what, I thought, was a pretty lazy NYT piece (for the same reasons you outlined above). Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic. Well done!

  2. Hey David -

    Caught your link in my Twitter feed, and can't entirely disagree with this post. I came through Bermuda basically on a challenge: could someone on a budget enjoy themselves there? My answer, if you read between the lines (or compare it to my more positive take on other spots) is "sorta, not really".

    I went because I had a 30-day All You Can Jet pass from Jet Blue, and Bermuda just seemed to be daring me to go.

    I had fun, for sure, and your beaches are utterly gorgeous (and free). The bus system is user-friendly, and people were people-friendly (and their accents alone worth the trip). But I doubt budget travelers read the piece and said "Let's go there!" That wasn't the point.

    Of course, I do disagree that it was a "lazy" piece. It was actually more work by far than my average article, both in prior research and the scramble to fit as much as I could 48 hours on the island.

    Thanks for your comments, it's always great to read a local's take on my work, whatever their opinion.

    Seth Kugel
    The Frugal Traveler

  3. Oops - just realized the "lazy" comment wasn't yours, so please apply my response to the first commenter...