by Candyce H. Stapen
The Fairmont Southampton, with 593 rooms and 100 acres, reigns as the largest hotel in Bermuda. Perched on a hilltop, the hotel is surrounded by trees and an expansive “lawn” that’s actually an 18 hole, executive golf course. It’s one of the few properties in Bermuda to have its own, good-sized beach, plus a children’s program and an indoor pool.
Family-friendly properties with good beaches are scarce in Bermuda. Indoor pools and good children’s programs are scarcer still. A Bermudian resort with all three virtues is a jewel. Most hotels (Elbow Beach is the prime exception) sit on slivers of sand or near one of Bermuda’s glorious pink-hued beaches.
The only caveat about the Southampton’s beach: it’s across the street and down the hill from the main building, accessible by the complimentary hotel shuttle buses or by walking. The bussing, which could be considered a hassle, is not actually a hassle. There is sometimes a wait for the three-minute bus ride, but families can also enjoy the seven-minute stroll to the sand, instead.
The resort’s sister property, the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, debuted January 1, 1885, and soon became the gem of Bermuda. Located in the town of Hamilton on the harbor, the hotel attracted such luminaries as Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming, Mark Twain and Frances Hodgson Burnett. During World War II, the hotel’s basement served as an intelligence station for censors who scrutinized mail, radio and telegraphic communications.
In 1959, as part of a deal to build a new resort on the island’s south shore – the property which eventually became the Fairmont Southampton – a wealthy American purchased the Hamilton Princess, added a new wing and renovated the property. In 1999, the two resorts were purchased by Canadian Pacific Railway and became part of the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Company.
In 2004, the Fairmont Southampton, a AAA Four Diamond rated property, completed a $65 million renovation that revamped the lobby, guestrooms and the spa under the direction of interior designer Frank Nicholson. The tasteful decor, with its sea green and coral hues, makes us think of Lily Pulitzer gone British.
The 410-room Fairmont Hamilton Princess is Bermuda’s second largest property. A complimentary ferry operates between the two properties, making it convenient for guests at the Fairmont Southampton to get into town and back. Just pay attention to the ferry schedule.
There’s much to do on Bermuda. The island, especially in season, offers an easy-to-reach getaway that’s a warm weather alternative to Florida or the Caribbean.
Our Editor Loves
- Spacious guest rooms with balconies
- Explorers Camp for children ages 5 to 12
- Variety of resort restaurants available
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
At 450 square feet, the Fairmont Southampton's guestrooms have plenty of space for an extra cot or crib (complimentary). Light, bright, big and airy, all rooms come with balconies or a patio furnished with a small table and chairs. Because of the resort's hilltop location, most rooms have water views. The decor of coral, yellow, sea green or blue and white refer to the island's sun, sand and sea. The glass floor-to-ceiling sliding doors framed by white louvered shutters also add an island feel. Rooms feature large closets and marble vanities. Prints of pastel-colored fish and coral decorate the walls.
Fairmont Gold Room
The Fairmont Gold Room is the resort's club floor. If you can, book a room with club access. The club lounge with its friendly staff and concierge service create a hotel within a hotel. By staying on a club floor, you get the best of both worlds: the amenities and services of a large, AAA Four Diamond property combined with the friendliness and attention of a boutique hotel.
The lounge, with its series of couches and wing chairs, provides a comfortable place to meet, especially nice for multi-generational groups or couples traveling together. Depending on how much your kids eat, the club floor may not be as pricey as you think. The full, hot breakfast is ample. The lounge also provides cookies, nuts, ice tea and coffee from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and afternoon tea from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
From 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., the lounge serves ample hors d'oeuvres, and in the evening, the club floor offers dessert. The only problem is that the resort puts this out for "as long as it lasts" - and it doesn't last long. If you want dessert, arrive at 8:30 p.m. when it is served. At the club lounge, you can get complimentary water and sodas as well as sign for liquor. Depending on the package, a club floor room in low season may be for an additional $100 or more per room. In high season, the rates could be an additional $150 or more per room.
The guestrooms feature a king or two queen beds, a fully stocked mini-bar and small table and chairs, along with a flat screen television.
The large suites feature a separate living room area with a sleeper sofa and larger table with chairs.
Now I know resort pricing is expensive but somehow this place seemed inappropriately so. In all fairness, the room rate is actually reasonable but then there are the resort fees, “gratuity charge” and taxes. The mandatory gratuity fee, an oxymoron, is added to EVERYTHING. We went on a reef fishing trip and ordered sandwiches to go from the hotel. They charged us a “delivery fee” to deliver the food to the bellman from whom we picked it up and the “gratuity fee” despite it being take out. The kids peanut butter and jelly sandwich was $16 and tuna sandwich $28. Come on now. I know it’s Bermuda but.....
We booked two “Deluxe Seaview” rooms under the same name yet at check in there weren’t two adjacent rooms period let alone with deluxe services. I’m told they used to separate the preferred south shore view from the bay view but now they are combined to all represent deluxe seaview categories. That doesn’t seem right.
Despite all said, the overall experience was Great. The management was very receptive to comments and concerns.
by David C
We stayed at the Fairmont Southampton for 4 nights and had a fantastic time. We were given a really nice room with an ocean view, and the beds were very comfortable. We really enjoyed going to the beach, and getting there is really easy as the hotel runs very frequent shuttles. The hotel is very well managed and the staff is very helpful and friendly. The food served at the hotel is of very good quality, and the service was excellent. We cannot wait to go back!
At the Explorers Camp, guests ages five to 12 enjoy a variety of activities year-round. When children arrive at the large room located in the resort's lower lobby, they receive the Explorers Camp Passport, a booklet with mazes, connect-the-dots and word find games that inform kids about the resort and the island. Each child also has a photo taken and pasted in the booklet.
The colorful room features a Foosball table, SpongeBob chairs, a princess play castle, craft tables, Nintendo Wii and board games. Kids get to splash in the resort's kiddie pool and play water games at the beach.
Each day during high season, children have the option of either participating in an EnviroKids activity designed to teach children about conservation and Bermuda's natural environment or they can go off-property. For eco-conscious education, youngsters plant a Bermuda Cedar tree on the property, search for and identify seashells at the beach or feed the birds.
The off-property outings, available for an additional fee, include visits to the Royal Naval Dockyard, the Crystal Caves and the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo. Adults can tag along for an extra fee, as well.
Explorers Camp operates daily, but from October through March, excluding holidays, the program runs from noon to 5 p.m. and parents must make a reservation 24 hours in advance. The remainder of the year, the program operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daily cost: $30 per child for the entire day or any part. Meals are extra. Ages three and four may use the Explorers Camp facility when accompanied by a parent or a sitter, and a fee does apply.
For ages seven and older, there's the 7 & Up Club, an evening of treasure hunts, Karaoke and movies from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Children giggle down the kiddie pool's slide and older ones like swimming in the main pool. From 6:30 p.m. until midnight, families can enjoy the indoor pool for no extra fee.
The pink sand on this secluded cove is perfect! Families will find lounge chairs, towels, lockers and showers at the beach.
For diving families, Bermuda's seas shelter offers more than 350 shipwrecks. (Remember, the tales about the Bermuda Triangle?) Outings can be booked at the Southampton's on-site PADI dive center. Snorkelers can spot fish at Horseshoe Bay and Tobacco Bay. Avoid the Royal Naval Dockyard's Snorkel Park as it's often filled with more cruise passengers than fish.
The resort offers a variety of restaurants. All restaurants, even the AAA Four Diamond Waterlot Inn, offer a children's menu. While primarily the same, the kids' menus at each restaurant contain selections representative of that restaurant. It shows an awareness of older kids who have more sophisticated tastes plus a respect for parents' pocketbooks. Children 5 years and under eat free off the children's menu while children ages 6-11 eat for half price off the regular menu.
Wickets, in the lower lobby, is the most family-friendly restaurant. Selections include burgers, salads and wraps. For dessert, try a ginger beer float made with local ginger beer (non-alcoholic). At Wickets kids can choose from chicken nuggets, cheeseburger, spaghetti and meatballs and chicken quesadillas. Ice cream, cookies or a root beer float are dessert options.
The Ocean Club, located beachfront, serves seafood. The miso marinated salmon, sea scallops and lobster ravioli were delicious. Along with spaghetti and meatballs and chicken fingers, the kids' menu offers a pan-seared or fried fish with vegetables and rice or French fries or a kids' surf and turf of grilled filet of beef and coconut shrimp.
Waterlot Inn, housed in a building dating to the 17th century, is known for its steaks. Filet mignon, a 22-ounce porterhouse and duck are a few options. The food is fabulous and the service is attentive. As dinners can be long, we don't recommend this restaurant for young kids. The children's menu, along with linguini and tomato sauce, offers catch of the day, 6-ounce prime rib, chicken breast and tenderloin of beef.
Newport, a Gastropub
Newport, a Gastropub, is resort casual and features a fresh raw bar, handcrafted beers, wings and seafood.
The casual restaurant features Italian cuisine.
Jasmine Lounge features tapas and lighter bites.
Windows on the Sound
The casual breakfast spot features a view of the Great Sound.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Be sure to sign-up ahead of time for the free Fairmont's President's Club, the chain's frequent stay program. The worthwhile extras include an express, check-in desk; complimentary Internet service in your room; and free access to the resort's gym.
For those you choose not to sign on to the free Fairmont's President's Club, here is a daily Wi-Fi cost.
Certified babysitters are available through a third party partner of the hotel.
A variety of toys, children's books and board games can be borrowed from the front desk.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season in Bermuda runs from May through September. Low season is from November through March. Shoulder season (and many hotels just offer high and low season) could be April and October.
Bermuda is famous as a year-round golfing destination. Tourists flock to the island in summer to golf, but locals traditionally only swing through the island's many courses September through May 24 (Bermuda Day). After that, the locals consider the weather too hot for good play.
For people on the East Coast, Bermuda, in season, is a quick, non-stop flight away. As the Bermuda Tourism Board states, in two hours you can go from business to bathing suit.
Getting around Bermuda takes planning because the island has no rental cars. That's why many tourists cruise around on motorized scooters. Even with the official speed limit set at around 20 mph, we suggest you resist the urge to don a helmet and head off. It's easy to forget that traffic flows on the other (left) side of the road. Secondly, scooters seat two, not practical for a family of three or more and, thinking our opinion, scooters are not the safest choice for young children, who can fall off. Bermuda does offer reliable and inexpensive bus service as well as ferries. The water routes are fun and relaxing. Taxis are expensive. Save those for the evening when buses and ferries may not be operating.
For Mom and Dad
The 31,000-square-foot Willow Stream Spa provides soothing massages, facials and other treatments.
If you don't want to end the night early, head to the Jasmine Lounge for live music and cocktails.
Along with the resort's on-property, executive golf course, the Fairmont Southampton also gets its guests priority tee times at Riddell's Bay golf course as well as provides a complimentary shuttle to the noted course.