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June 2005

Ariel Sands
34 Shore Road
Devonshire Parish, Bermuda
441-236-1010

Ariel Sands Home Page

Welcome to www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at the Ariel Sands in Bermuda.

We are sorry to say that Ariel Sands has closed effective January 2008.

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Accommodations Amenities Food Bar/Lounge Service Attractions Dining Nightlife Weather Tips



Accommodations

Ariel Sands boasts 46 accommodations. The majority are ocean-view deluxe rooms. We opted for a one-bedroom suite, which had two full baths. The floors were tile with sisal rugs and the walls were painted soothing shades. The furniture and décor is Tommy Bahama.

Our bedroom had a king-size bed, end tables, a desk, and a dresser, all in a tasteful rattan. The bedroom also contained the main entrance door to the outside as well as a sliding door to the ocean-view patio. There was a TV and a remote controlled HVAC unit.

There was an adjacent sitting room with a loveseat, leather chair, large coffee table, and armoire which contained the TV, small refrigerator, and coffee machine. This room had an individual remote-controlled HVAC unit and another set of sliding doors out to the patio. There was a large closet with robes, umbrellas, and a room safe.

The smaller of the bathrooms included a tub/shower, toilet, and marble vanity with sink. There were nice bath amenities and plenty of fresh towels. The second bathroom was located off the sitting room and had the same amenities as the first but was larger, had a double vanity, and a window. Having two full bathrooms was especially nice because – even though there were only two of us – it allowed us to spread out and get ready in half the time. The accommodation was very luxurious. Our only criticism (and we let the resort know on the comment card when we checked out) was that our suite was attached to the main building where the restaurant was. Although it was private and felt like a completely separate cottage, we were regularly subjected to various banging noises from the main building that seemed to start in the morning and go on all day.

Ariel Sands is not a multi-story resort but rather distributes its accommodations amongst various cottages. All have some sort of porch or patio outside and most have wonderful views. There are paved paths to the accommodations. Be forewarned that the property has steep hills and may be a bit more of a challenge for those who have difficulty getting around. The staff used golf carts to motor around the property (as well as to deliver baggage) and it is our guess (although we are not certain) that those with mobility problems could likely call the front desk and ask for one of the staff to pick them up.

Resort Amenities

The resort is beautiful. The owners and staff obviously take great pleasure and care in keeping it up. Ariel Sands has its own beach – not a lot of properties in Bermuda can boast that. It is in a small, somewhat protected cove and a statue of Ariel is in the cove. On our first day, we observed one of the staff cleaning the statue – he rowed a canoe out to the statue and spent several hours carefully cleaning and shining the statue. The beach has plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas with thatched roofs. The umbrellas have flags that can be raised when a guest needs something from the beach bar. There are also two saltwater pools, which we found very unusual. The pools are actually two areas in the ocean protected by walls and with steps to get into them. We think – although we can’t be certain – that the rising tide is what replenishes these pools and keeps the water fresh. As is the case throughout Bermuda, the water surrounding Ariel Sands is clear and several different shades of light blue.

Ariel Sands also boasts a sparkling heated outdoor pool that was kept completely free from dirt while we were there. The pool is surrounded by chaise lounges and umbrellas. There are also several tables near the outdoor bar, and embedded in the ground close to a seawall and several steps above the beach is a hot tub with a glorious view over the water. After an initial venture down to the beach, we spent the bulk of our outdoor time at the resort in the pool area (and Lori deposited herself in the hot tub for hours on end).

The resort also has a gym, tennis courts, and a full-service spa – amenities one would expect from larger resorts.

Resort Food

The food at Ariel Sands was wonderful. A bountiful buffet breakfast is included with the room price, and includes things like eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, pancakes, French toast, Eggs Benedict, fresh fruit, assorted baked goods, cereals, and omelets made to order. While we were there, it was served every morning from 8-10. The restaurant – Aqua – is in the club house and a good portion of it is open to the air and overlooks the pool area, the beach, and the water. The restaurant serves lunch as well (by reservation), but when we ate lunch at the resort, we generally ate at the pool bar (which gets its food from Aqua). We had things like avocado and shrimp wrap, chicken wrap, burgers, and chicken Caesar salad, all of which were very good.

We had dinner at Aqua our first night on the island. Reservations are a must. The dress code is smart casual – men should wear shirts with collars and pants in the evenings, but jacket and tie are not necessary. We were given an ocean view table for two and ordered a chilled bottle of white wine. Keith had the beef carpaccio appetizer and a Jamaican jerk chicken dish, while Lori had a lobster and avocado appetizer and lobster over saffron rice for her main entrée. The food was delicious and the service was excellent. Apparently Aqua is a restaurant favored by locals as well.

Resort Bar/Lounge

There is a bar in the club house but we did not partake of anything while we were there. We did order drinks from the pool bar outside during the afternoons – there was a good selection and the bartenders/servers knew what they were doing. On our last evening, we decided we wanted to celebrate with a bottle of champagne. We arrived back at the resort shortly after 10, frustrated that we couldn’t find anywhere in Hamilton to buy a bottle of cold champagne (they were all closed). Lori took a chance and went to the bar in the club house. The bartender was headed out to the pool bar and smilingly said although he couldn’t deliver it to the room, he would be happy to find a bottle of chilled champagne for her. Minutes later, Lori returned to the room, victorious, with an ice bucket full of a good bottle of chilled champagne and glasses.

On Wednesday evenings (in season) the resort hosts a rum swizzle party by the pool bar which is free to guests. The rum swizzles were flowing freely, and a nice assortment of appetizers were provided. This gave management the opportunity to mingle with the guests.

Resort People/Service

Lori had been to Bermuda 15 years earlier (this was Keith’s first visit) and recalled the friendliness of the people she encountered everywhere. In that sense, not much has changed, and the staff at Ariel Sands exemplified that. They arranged for a taxi to meet us at the airport, and the driver was friendly. When we arrived at the resort, the front desk person was pleasant and helpful, and the driver who delivered us to our accommodation in the golf cart was a hoot! He took the time to show us around our suite. Our guess is one of the prime requirements for employment at Ariel Sands is enthusiasm, as there was a clear emphasis on service and hospitality. Everyone we came into contact with – from the bellhop to the host at Aqua to the servers to the bartenders to the woman who worked down by the beach and helped Lori with the hot tub controls – was welcoming and genuinely seemed like they wanted us to be there. That is something Bermuda is famous for and a reason people keep going back.

Area/Attractions

Bermuda is small – only 21 square miles. One of the primary attractions for visitors is the beautiful beaches. There are other activities such as: swimming with dolphins, an aquarium, fishing, snorkeling, diving, boat trips, birding, golf, hiking, and the list goes on and on. We only had four full days in Bermuda (the other two were devoted to travel), so we used our time to relax.

We got 3-day bus passes which allow unlimited access to the bus system. We had a little difficulty with the bus system – there were two bus stops on either side of the road in front of the resort. It seemed the bus would stop on one side (headed towards Hamilton, the largest city), but not on the other (headed to the east end). After having several buses blow by us and tiring of standing in the hot sun, we crossed the street and waited for the bus to Hamilton, which did stop. From that point on, we would simply take the bus into the main terminal in Hamilton, and from that point, catch the bus at the terminal that was headed to our destination. There may be a better way, but that seems to be what worked best for us. The buses are clean and the drivers are friendly. If, when you get on, you ask them to let you know when they arrive at your destination, they will simply stop at the correct bus stop and call out the destination you requested. Keep in mind that the buses do not run late at night so if you plan to stay out late, you may need to catch a taxi back. Tourists cannot rent cars in Bermuda for excellent reasons: they drive on the left side of the road (fine for the UK but tough on the rest of us), there are circles/roundabouts, and the roads are very narrow and twisty, sometimes with high rock walls and at times, no guardrails. Tourists can rent mopeds, but if you do so, use caution. People can get seriously injured on mopeds if they are not careful.

We used the bus system to get a pretty complete tour of the island from end to end. One day, we went into the main terminal in Hamilton and caught the busy to take us to the two caves tourists can visit in Bermuda: Fantasy and Crystal Caves. The caves are small but interesting and the guides are knowledgeable. Fantasy Cave has a number of formations. Crystal Cave is especially interesting because it contains 55-foot-deep crystal-clear blue water and you can walk across a suspended bridge on pontoons. We enjoyed the diversion. Keep in mind that visitors must walk down into the caves and walk back out again, so if you are going, wear sensible shoes (such as sneakers). There are quite a few steps, so we wouldn’t recommend it for people who have difficulty getting around or for very small children. Bermuda also boasts a lighthouse (which we did not get to) where visitors can walk up the steps to the top and take pictures.

There are a number of things to do in Bermuda. Check with the staff at the resort you are visiting and they can assist you. Several attractions close early (for example, the last tours of the caves started at 4:30 p.m.), so make your plans accordingly.

Dining

Aqua Restaurant - Ariel Sands Resort
See the resort section above.

Tio Pepe - 117 South Road, Southampton Parish 441-238-1897
Tio Pepe Home Page
We passed Tio Pepe in the bus when we were touring the island, and Lori said she remembered having dinner there 15 years earlier, so we decided to dine there. We weren’t disappointed. Tio Pepe is along the shore road just east of Horseshoe Beach. There were plenty of tables outside under a covered porch with fans and since it was a nice night, we asked to eat outside. We did not have a reservation and weren’t dressed up, but no one cast us a sideways glance. Please keep in mind that it was a Tuesday evening and on the early side, so reservations may be more of a necessity later in the evening or on a weekend. If in doubt, make a reservation. Tio Pepe is an Italian restaurant but we noticed some Spanish influences – especially since they offered Sangria by the pitcher. We ordered a bottle of wine and they brought us some fresh bread. Keith had the Prosciutto e Melone (parma ham and melon) for an appetizer and was served huge slices of melon with some finely sliced Prosciutto. Lori had the Aquacate con Gambos (avocado with shrimp in a special sauce). It was wonderful, almost a meal in itself, with plenty of shrimp and an interesting, freshly made sauce. Keith had Veal Piccata and Lori had black lobster ravioli. Tio Pepe has a large, diverse menu with something for everyone. We enjoyed a leisurely dinner and our server was mellow and pleasant. The nice thing about the restaurant is that they seem to know they have good food but don’t act affected or take themselves too seriously (note the oilcloth on the tables). We would definitely return.

Swizzle Inn - 3 Blue Hole Hill, Baileys Bay 441-293-1854
Swizzle Inn Home Page
We stopped at the Swizzle Inn for lunch before visiting the caves, which are a short walk away. We ordered a 1/2 jug of their famous Rum Swizzle. Lori ordered the butt-kicking nachos (which were huge). Keith had the Chicken Quesadilla, which was a very large home-made tortilla stuffed with seasoned chicken. We noticed one couple having lunch on their way to the airport, since the Swizzle Inn is very close to the airport.

Harbourfront Restaurant – 21 Front Street, Hamilton 441-295-4207
Harbourfront Home Page
We went to the Harbourfront early on a Wednesday evening. We did not have a reservation and were able to sit outside on the balcony overlooking Front Street in busy Hamilton, Bermuda’s largest town. It would be a good idea to make a reservation – we were lucky to get a good table just walking in the door. Lori had also been to this place 15 years earlier and we thought we would give it a try. Harbourfront boasts a very extensive wine list and we chose a good French Chablis to accompany our meal. Sushi is popular at the restaurant (we stayed away from that, as we like our food dead and cooked).

White Horse Pub and Restaurant – 8 Kings Square, St. Georges 441-297-1838
White Horse Home Page
We went to the White Horse via one of Bermuda’s pink buses. The White Horse is a very casual bar/restaurant on the water in St. Georges, on Bermuda’s east end. We chose to eat outside on a large covered deck overlooking the water (and a cruise ship). Lori remembered hanging out on this same deck 15 years earlier, but without looking at a cruise ship. We started off with appetizers – Lori typically had shrimp cocktail and Keith had Armadillo Eggs (a somewhat frightening euphemism for jalapeno poppers). We opted to split a pizza. This was our least expensive dinner, but at $25+ for a pizza, it was by no means a cheap meal state-side (but of course we are aware that Bermuda is expensive as they have to import everything). Keith had been commenting all week that he hadn’t seen any fish yet. Well, there were plenty swimming around in the water next to us, and they loved the bits and pieces of pizza we threw them. The pizza was good, but we weren’t sure if a fish’s digestive system is really built for it. Afterwards, we went over to the outdoor bar. A guy with an acoustic guitar had come out to tune up for a weekend gig and people started making requests, so he stayed and played for hours. (At least, that was his story.) We stayed and listened to him. A local guy named Dave who owned a fishing boat was extremely friendly and bought us drinks (we didn’t think the guitar player was paying him to do that). We found the White Horse to be a nice casual, friendly place to hang out along the water, dine, and drink. The buses don’t run too late in Bermuda, so we caught the 9:45 back to Hamilton.

Lido – Elbow Beach Hotel, 60 South Shore Road, Paget Parish 441-236-9884
Lido Home Page
We were talking to a local woman on the bus one day and asked her what restaurants she would recommend. The Lido was one of them. She explained it had just recently reopened (after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Fabian in 2003). We went there on our last evening in Bermuda. It was a Friday and we called that day for reservations. They had one more opening and squeaked us in at 6:30, just as the restaurant was opening for the evening. Even though we made a last-minute reservation, we were given an ocean-front table. The restaurant has expansive glass on one side looking out over the beach and the ocean. Keith’s back was to the view, but he could see it reflected in plate glass behind our table – a nice effect. We would recommend making reservations at least a day in advance, especially if your party is more than two. Attire is smart casual, so men do not have to wear jackets, but we did see some. We couldn’t keep track of how many different people waited on us. This is a very upscale place and the service was very attentive. We had some very creative appetizers: Keith chose a vegetarian lasagna and Lori had lobster medallions with apple. We ordered a nice crisp New Zealand sauvignon blanc to accompany our meal. For entrees, Keith chose a veal t-bone. Generally he doesn’t get the thicker cuts of veal, but he reasoned in a place like this, it would be good, and it was. Lori had a Mediterranean seafood casserole, which was Lido’s version of cioppino with different fish, and heavy on the nicely cooked calamari. We split a gourmet cheese plate for dessert, accompanied by two glasses of Barbera (a red wine). The food and service was excellent, and you do pay for it – it was the most expensive meal we had. But it was a nice way to end our week. We would definitely recommend the Lido.

Nightlife

Bermuda is not necessarily known for its nightlife, but there is entertainment to be found. There are nightclubs within the confines of several of the resorts. There are a number of bars with entertainment in downtown Hamilton. Even the White Horse up in St. Georges has its own dance club. For us on this trip, we were happy with the acoustic guitar player we happened upon at the White Horse. We were more focused on the daytime with all the beauty surrounding us. We did go to the Hog Penny (5 Burnaby Hill, Hamilton, 414-292-2534, a few times later in the evenings. They have an assortment of entertainment. There is lots of wood. The Hog Penny has been open for nearly 50 years and was the original inspiration for the Cheers bar (of TV series fame).

Weather

Bermuda is about 650 miles east of the North Carolina coast. We tell you this because people sometimes mistakenly think Bermuda is in the Caribbean. It is not, and it has seasons. Even though it is in the Atlantic Ocean, it rarely gets a direct hit from hurricanes, and Hurricane Fabian in 2003 was an exception. Lori had visited Bermuda in August and recalled it as being hot and humid while she was there, with daytime highs in the 90s and lows in the 70s. We thought early June weather would be perfect and it nearly was. If anything, it was a little cooler than we expected. It generally got up to the low 80s in mid-day and dropped down into the 60s at night. There was a steady breeze. The days were full of blue skies and white fluffy clouds. The day we arrived, there were a few brief showers, and we experienced a few brief sprinkles the last day we were there. It reminded us of Hawaii in that way – there was a little rain to keep things green but it passed quickly. Since Lori generally wore dresses and skirts at night, she took a sweater with her to keep warm and used it. The sun in Bermuda is hot and can burn you very quickly, so be sure to reapply sun protection frequently. We were sensible and ended up with nice tans.

Tips/Suggestions

Be forewarned: Bermuda is not the place to go if you are on a tight budget. Lori had been there before and knew it was not cheap. If two people are going out to dinner – even at a less upscale restaurant – you can expect to pay at least $100 for two entrees, two appetizers or salads, and drinks. At nicer restaurants, you can expect to pay $150-$250, and even upwards of $250 at the most pricey places.

Be sensible and aware of your surroundings. Bermuda is a very safe destination, but plan ahead. For example, we made sure we caught a bus out of St. Georges before it got too late because we didn’t want to be wandering around the streets looking for a taxi late at night. If it is late and you need a taxi, ask the establishment where you are to call for a cab and to have it pick you up at the front door. Any place will do this for you.

Don’t expect to spend much time walking along the roads outside of the towns. They are narrow, don’t have sidewalks, and are simply not safe for pedestrians. Plan to use a bus, taxi, or moped to get you from place to place.

We have to tell you about the singing frogs. There is this strange noise at night and at first we thought it was crickets. A taxi driver explained they were tiny singing frogs. On our third night there, a singing frog decided to take up residence in a location that we thought was right outside of the external door to our bedroom. It was unbelievable how loud and shrill this creature was and we could not sleep. Keith kicked the door a few times and the frog would quiet down, only to start up again just as we were drifting off. Finally he got up, went outside, and thrashed about in a desperate attempt to scare away the frog. Although Lori was equally exasperated, she joked that they were probably protected and if he killed the thing they would likely end up in jail! We had a few hours of peace but sometime during the night we heard the thing again. Thankfully, the next night the frog went elsewhere to irritate someone else.