Upon arrival, you can immediately sense why Bermudians take so much pride in their country. The surreal charm and spotless beauty is evident everywhere you visit on this delicate chain of islands, from the UNESCO World Heritage community in St. George to Somerset Village’s bright pastel colonial homes nestled between sweeping pink beaches, crystalline turquoise waters and tropical gardens that flourish throughout the archipelago.
“Gorgeous, beautiful, I’m amazed how everything is really so well kept, clean and pristine. It’s absolutely stunning,” says Sandra Daniel, President/CEO of Fire Light Group in Madison who’s here with our group of senior meeting planners working on a 5-night incentive program.
However, that pride the islanders have for their home goes way, way beyond the impeccably manicured lawns. The islands were originally populated by the survivors of the clipper ship Sea Venture, which ran aground off the coast in 1609 during a hurricane thought to be the basis for Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. But while other Englanders sailing to the American colonies during the same period eventually grew at odds with the English crown, the bulk of Bermudians by the middle of the 17th century remained adamant loyalists. Afternoon tea, anyone?
Located at the very eastern tip of the islands, St. George was settled in 1612, a mere six years after the first British settlers landed in Jamestown, making this the oldest continually occupied English colony in the New World. Walking among the painstakingly restored buildings captivated all of us with the elegant architecture, narrow alleys, charming shops and museums highlighting the birth of European colonial expansion. Consider booking a group tour starting at The King’s Square along the waterfront near the original stocks, pillory and whipping post. Or, organize a tour aboard a replica of the sailing ship Deliverance, captained by Admiral Sir George Somers, the naval hero and founding father of Bermuda.
At the opposite end on the westernmost tip of the islands, The Royal Naval Dockyard has undergone a revival into a thriving destination for exploring, shopping, dining and more historical education. Within the walls of a 19th century fortress, the dockyard pays tribute to the maritime trade and all things Bermudian made. More than 60 artisans share their stories and showcase their work in the Bermuda Craft Market.
Ceramic artists carry on centuries-old traditions at Bermuda Clayworks, a working pottery production studio. Delicious smells from the Bermuda Rum Cake Bakery fill the air. And we watched in awe as artists at the Dockyard Glassworks created stunning works of red hot molten glass.
The Royal Dockyard is also home to the 30,000-sf Commissioner’s House featuring rich mahogany walled indoor dining areas and intimate outdoor dining verandas with outstanding views, well suited for 100 pax. Designed in 1822 with cast iron from England, the restored mansion is a Bermudian landmark filled with educational exhibits. Imagine having a regiment from the Bermuda Islands Pipe Band dressed in Gordon tartan welcoming guests with Scottish bagpipes and drums for an evening celebrating Bermuda’s European heritage.