Holiday envy doesn’t come much worse than a chilly autumn evening in front of X Factor’s Judges’ Houses. This year, it’s Louis Walsh who’s fueled our travel bug. Surprising his hopeful groups with a trip to Bermuda, the longstanding judge jetted contestants out for a spot of added pressure in the glorious sunshine. Joined on the exotic island by former judge, Tulisa Contostavlos, the duo gave us a taste for all things luxurious. Inspired by their recent getaway, we packed our bags for a weekend in Bermuda to find out what all the fuss was about.
Is it far?
Flying from Gatwick can take under seven and a half hours (which means plenty of time for a nap, a few chapters of your new holiday read and a movie en route), while the island is less than a two-hour flight from most east coast gateways. Famed for its stunning stretches of pink sandy beaches, Bermuda sits in the mid-Atlantic – just a stones throw from the east coast of America, with Miami in touching distance.
Where do we go when we land?
Make like the X Factor crew - Louis Walsh, Tulisa, Dermot O’Leary and Sarah Jane Crawford - and head for the Fairmont Southampton Resort. Bermuda’s largest hotel with 593 rooms, the Y-shaped, pink hotel is just 30 minutes drive from the island’s main airport and boasts a private beach, family-friendly pool, nine restaurants, indoor spa, two golf courses and impressive watersports package. The popular Ocean Club also neighbours the breathtaking surroundings of Horseshoe Bay, one of the top 10 beaches in the world.
Where did the X Factor gang stay?
Louis Walsh bagged himself one of the hotel’s two Penthouse Suites during filming, with two bedrooms, private living room and kitchen, L-shaped balcony and endless bathroom space (really, the opulent shower rooms stretch the entire length of the 2,900-square-foot suite). Meanwhile Tulisa settled into the Fairmont’s Gold floor, with a spacious bathroom of her own, walk-in wardrobe, private balcony and ocean views, along with access to the private concierge and Gold Lounge (that’s complimentary breakfast, canapés and Diet Coke on tap, to us). Even the contestants were left to live the dream with 450 square-foot of private luxury in the hotel’s Guest Rooms. Complete with views of the harbour or ocean, WiFi access (to keep up with those adoring Twitter fans, we imagine) and the same gorgeous, double granite bathrooms enjoyed on the Gold floor.
So, how can we recreate scenes from the X Factor?
The hotel’s Ocean Club, Jasmine bar, guest rooms and Cabana bar all feature on the X Factor, but it’s the Willow Stream Spa that really steals the limelight. Voted the ‘Best Spa in Bermuda’ for over a decade, the friendly spa and fitness centre is a mecca for rejuvenating getaways. Open 365 days a year, the indoor pool provided the wow factor for Louis’ final contestants on the show.
Now I’m relaxed, where can I get my adrenaline fix?
Nothing blows away the cobwebs quite like a 2-hour session on a jet ski. Jump into the driver’s seat with Sea Venture Watersports, available to book directly through the hotel. Prices for one person, for one hour, start at $125. Across the island at the Clocktower Dockyard, the team behind Altitude Adjustment (www.facebook.com/CoconutRockets) offer something for true adrenaline junkies. If you can conquer Coconut Rockets – ‘the world’s hottest new watersport’, you can just about do anything. Giving the thrill of flying, you’ll need your finest balancing skills to stay above water with one of these jetpacks attached to your feet. At 9 Beaches, Surf Sup (surfsupbermuda.com) offers something of a slower pace with Paddle Board Yoga. Even yoga newbies can find their core when perched in the middle of the ocean. Believe us.
We’ve worked up a sweat, where should we eat?
With nine sought-after restaurants to its name, the Fairmont Southampton doesn’t fall short for foodies. Local delicacies can be ordered at The Waterlot Inn, Jasmine Lounge and Ocean Club, with resident Gastropub, The Newport, serving up a string of familiar home comforts. Elsewhere on the island, Bonefish Restaurant is a must to settle your stomach after Coconut Rockets, while Pickled Onion is a go-to for low-key evenings in the capital, Hamilton. Nearby Ascot’s Restaurant is also popular with couples and clued-up locals. As for the historic town of St. George’s, the Wahoo Bistro dishes up the finest local fish in town. Before lunch, sample some added Bermuda tradition with a stroll around the town square and up to St. Peter’s Church.
What else can we Instagram?
Make like Tulisa and grab a glimpse of the Crystal Caves (www.caves.bm) before flying home. The unbelievable beauty spot sits 140 feet below ground and tells the story of two local teenagers who discovered the caves in 1907. A must-see for many visitors to Bermuda, the former X Factor judge was said to be just as stunned by the attraction during her stay. En route to the airport, stop at Swizzle Inn for a sip of Bermuda’s favourite rum-based cocktail, the Swizzle.
Sounds incredible, how can we book?
Save at least £395 per person at the Fairmont Southampton in November with Prestige Holidays (01425 480400 www.prestigeholidays.co.uk). A seven night stay departing on 4 November costs from £1,268 per person, with two free nights and a British Airways saving, including: return flights with British Airways from London Gatwick, accommodation on a room only basis with private transfers. Also receive a $25 resort credit per room per night to spend in resort. www.prestigeholidays.co.uk/bermuda/fairmont-southampton-hotel. For further information about Bermuda, visit: www.gotobermuda.co.uk. For details on the Fairmont Southampton Resort, head to: http://www.fairmont.com/southampton-bermuda/.
By Jessica Bridgeman @JessBridgeman