This just in from the Bermuda Shorts weather service: Ophelia strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane early this morning, packing winds of 100 mph as it swirled across the Atlantic. At about 5 a.m. today the storm was approximately 695 miles south-southeast of Bermuda, heading north-northwest at 9 miles an hour. According the National Hurricane Center, strengthening is expected over the next 48 hours and the extended forecast shows Ophelia passing just east of the island, although models from the Bermuda Weather Service predict a pretty gnarly weekend (that's a recent NOAA satellite image of the storm; the tiny green speck above the big white swirl is Bermuda). So much for that picnic on the beach this weekend.
By the looks of the National Hurricane Center's latest graphic on Tropical Storm Ophelia, which is currently 180 miles northeast of the U.S. Virgin Islands and heading northward at 7 mph with near hurricane-force winds, I have a feeling Bermuda may be getting some rain this weekend. Uh oh.
Bermuda has officially gone mobile. Well, sort of. According to travel tech watchdog Tnooz, Bermuda tourism is mid-way through its mobile advertising campaign, which means smart phone and iPad users with household incomes of $135,000 and above in key markets along the U.S. east coast are currently getting bombarded with banner ads like the one's you see above. Not seeing the ads, iPhone user? Then clearly you're not making enough money! That, or you don't live in Boston or New York City, two major feeder markets with two-hour flights to Bermuda, which are currently getting the banners. The ads lead to landing pages that provide further information about the island, widgets to connect via Twitter or Facebook and links available at GoToBermuda.com, but unfortunately not to a mobile-optimized site—a real shame and in my opinion, a huge opportunity squandered. Clearly the mobile ad campaign is a step in the right direction for a destination in dire need of tourist dollars—after all, who isn't using their smart phone for just about everything these days?—but if the Department of Tourism spends big bucks on cheeky iPhone banner ads, then those ads should without a doubt take its target audience to a place where potential travelers can spend real tourist dollars in return. And that's my two cents for today.
Leave it to the good folks at JetBlue to pile on the savings to Bermuda. Its latest Bermuda Getaway offers travelers a $400 air credit for a friend when you book a Bermuda vacation package, which essentially adds up to a free roundtrip ticket from New York or Boston. You can find all of the details here, but expect deep discounts at some of the island's best hotels (like the Grotto Bay Beach Resort where you'll get a four-night stay plus airfare from Boston Logan for $685 per person or the Fairmont Southampton where you'll also enjoy a four-night stay for the same price with airfare from New York's JFK). Of course restrictions, taxes and fees apply and you'll have to book by October 25 for travel through October 31, but if you act fact it's one heckuva a deal. Happy jetting and welcome aboard!
Interested in attending the 2011 PGA Grand Slam of Golf at beautiful Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton, Bermuda? Tickets are now officially on sale for all you golf lovers out there and this year's tournament is sure to be a good one. Featuring an all-rookie field including Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and Open champion Darren Clarke both from Northern Ireland, and from the United States, PGA champion Keegan Bradley, the three-day tournament begins on October 17 and will be televised to millions live on TNT (if you can't make it to sunny Bermuda, of course). It's $50 to attend the entire event (including the pro-am on day one) or $20 a ticket for each of the competition days. And if you're 17 or younger, admission is free when accompanied by an adult ticket-holder. Wanna check out championship golf in paradise? Then purchase tickets at Port Royal's pro shop or by contacting To-A-Tee (441/295-4640, pgagrandslamofgolf.com). You know you wanna watch someone don Bermuda's famed pink jacket (that's Ernie Els, from last year's tournament, if you're wondering).
Here we go again. Despite limited damage from Hurricane Katia, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Jose, all of which blew past Bermuda's shores this month, another storm is forecasted to impact the island this weekend. Looks like it's time to stock up on triple-A batteries. Again. According to the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Maria is expected to skirt the island sometime on Thursday afternoon, with current top winds strengthening up to 60 miles per hour. The system, traveling north northwest at 10 miles per hour, is 605 miles south southwest of Bermuda and is forecast to strengthen considerably in the next two days. Which all just means that it's time to go to Gorham's and start buying the non-returnable fear currently lining its shelves. Rope? Sure, why not. Tarps? Umm, I guess so. Five more flashlights? Sure thing, but don't bother saving that receipt because hurricane preparedness products are indeed non-returnable. Imagine if Home Depot tried to pull that one over on its customers. Welcome to Bermuda, folks.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Lobster season in Bermuda is Poseidon's gift to our palates and today marks day one of the seven-month stretch when we're legally allowed to dig in. If you're looking for one in town, don't miss the newly renovated Lobster Pot or even Port O Call, which broils 'em up nicely but charges handsomely. Alternatively, don't miss the side-of-de-road value from the local fisherman who haul in the sweet, clawless wonders each day (expect to pay around $30 for a one-and-a-half pounder on Trimingham Road. Yes, I know, that's still crazy expensive but this is Bermuda). Happy lobster season!
is a Bermuda-based travel writer and television correspondent. To read his work visit DavidLaHuta.com or to follow him on Twitter visit Twitter.com/DavidLaHuta. Visiting Bermuda? Read his story, 36 Hours in Bermuda, which appeared in the New York Times travel section in September 2009 (http://bit.ly/36HoursBermuda) and Jetsetter's The Many Faces of Bermuda, which ran in January 2011 (http://bit.ly/FacesOfBDA).