Finding a truly “family friendly” holiday destination can be a pretty tall order. Every parent knows you need just the right balance to keep everyone happy and entertained. How wonderful would it be to find such a place, where you don’t have to give up the luxuries you love to make the young folk happy? A place with top-class accommodation, blush-sand beaches, intriguing history, wonderful wildlife and fun activities for children of all ages. Allow us to introduce you to Bermuda – one of the most family friendly little places on Earth. Perhaps you’ve heard of it…
Beyond the destination itself, in my experience, the accommodation you choose can make or break your holiday – and this is never truer than for those travelling as a family unit. Over the years I’ve had countless clients come to me for help to select the ideal family-friendly accommodation, so I’ve become pretty adept at knowing just what’s required. To that end, as well as expounding on a few of the many attractions of Bermuda, it’s my pleasure to recommend a hotel that, to me, epitomises exactly what you need to tick those “family-friendly” boxes without compromising on the little luxuries – the Fairmont Southampton.
Recommended Hotel: Fairmont Southampton
With an unbeatable position and the most spectacular views you could ask for, the Fairmont Southampton offers access to its own stunning pink sand beach. Correct me if I’m wrong, but show me a hotel with a private beach and I’ll show you a happy family holiday!
The hotel’s Beach Club affords guests the use of all its facilities, which include lounges and sunshades for the adults and unlimited sun, sand and sea for the children. There are also two resort pools, one with a mini-slide and splash pool, and the other with a sun deck and whirlpool Jacuzzis.
The resort also includes its own 18-hole golf course, but if you wonder how you’re going to find some adult time to enjoy it, the fantastic Explorers Kids Camp has the answer. The dedicated children’s club offers a fun-filled, supervised programme of events and daily activities, which allows parents not just peace, but peace of mind.
For many of my clients I’ve found that one of the most appealing aspects of the Fairmont Southampton is their very attractive “family plan”, which offers excellent incentives for children sharing with two adults. At certain times of the year you can even get a free second room for the children.
With its superb family rooms, luxury touches, wonderful views and non-stop entertainment, I’m delighted to recommend the Fairmont Southampton as one of the very best in Bermuda.
Simply enjoying the wildlife and the laidback ambience of Bermuda is often enough to guarantee a successful family holiday, but I do like to recommend some specifics to my clients, to ensure they really get the most out of their stay. I pride myself on being able to include a little something for everyone; so much so that the children might not even notice when they’re in the middle of a real-life history lesson.
The Royal Naval Dockyard & Dolphin Quest
Mention dolphins, a real-life fort and fish and chips in the same breath and you’re onto a winner. The Royal Naval Dockyard is probably the best-known attraction on the island and its beauty lies in the diversity of what’s on offer. It’s a full day of fun in one place, with plenty of shops, galleries, a museum (yes, even the youngsters will like this one), Snorkel Park Beach and the opportunity to climb the ramparts of the fort.
After a break for lunch (definitely try the aforementioned fish and chips) the interactive Dolphin Quest is my absolute “memorable must-do” for families. This is a truly up-close-and-personal experience, where children get to swim with the gentle bottlenose dolphins and even touch them as they play in the water. The thing I love is that it also serves to educate youngsters on the conservation of these wonderful creatures.
History in St. George
The beauty of Bermuda’s history is that it’s got somewhat of a romantic notion attached to it – for children, at least. In my experience, young people love the stories of forts, ships and battles, and to see the remnants of this history in situ in places like St. George instils life-long memories that are so engaging they won’t even associate them with learning.
St. George is a town so steeped in history that it’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s the oldest settlement on the island so there are relics from the past at every turn. I’ve spent a lot of time simply wandering the cobblestoned streets of this lovely old town, and my favourite landmarks are the Tucker House Museum (which offers a great all-round view of the islands’ heritage) and St. Peter’s Church, with its wonderful timber altar.
With the children in mind, however, I’d suggest heading over to Fort St. Catherine, which dates back to the sixteenth century, so they can get a hands-on experience with the massive fort ramparts, the network of tunnels and the impressive antique artillery.
Bermuda Zoo, Aquarium & Museum
The joy of getting three attractions for the price of one is that you also get three times the value. The massive Bermuda Aquarium is an awe-inspiring showcase of the marine creatures that make this part of the world their home. The North Rock exhibit is home to a wealth of corals, underwater plants and sea life, including sharks, which you get to enjoy from safety behind the glass. I have to admit, the thing many youngsters find most appealing is the same thing I enjoy so much every time I visit: one of the other most popular (and noisy) activities with little ones is feeding time for the seals.
The Bermuda Zoo offers a different and also very interactive kind of fun, with hundreds of species of birds, mammals and reptiles living in spaces as close to their natural habitat as possible, with some pretty hands-on (safe) exhibits.
For slightly older children, the Natural History Museum offers an easy to digest and highly educational experience, which will help them learn more about the habitats and ecosystems of the islands.
Beaches and Lighthouses
I’m not sure I need to give much introduction to the stunning beaches of Bermuda, so I’ll concentrate on their safety and child-friendliness rather than wax lyrical about their pink sand beauty – hard as that may be.
Horseshoe Bay Beach (which, incidentally is the next one along from the Fairmont Southampton’s private one) is probably the most renowned – and it consistently features in Top 10 Beaches on lists around the world. If you head up the western end to Port Royal Beach, known to the locals as Baby Beach, you’ll find an amazing spot for younger children. The beach is wide, the waters are safe and shallow and there are plenty of facilities to take care of the cries of “I’m hungry/thirsty,” and “I need to go to the toilet.”
What child doesn’t love a lighthouse? The thrill of seeing a real-life one in person almost counteracts the 185 steps it takes to reach it. Gibbs’ Hill lighthouse is one of the more accessible ones you’ll find on a family holiday though, and there are plenty of places to rest young legs and take in the magnificent views. This impressive structure dates back to the 1800s and has the honour of being one of the oldest cast iron lighthouses in the world.