This summer marks 15 years of marriage. To celebrate, my husband and I took a special trip because 15 is a lot of years and we thought it important to commemorate this accomplishment: two flawed people (way too prone to think about themselves) have lived and loved through 15 years, and things are good! Correction: things are even better.
Before I launch into the details of our anniversary trip, first a word about marriage. While marriage is one of the most common things in the world, a healthy marriage is a rare jewel indeed. Healthy doesn't mean perfect. No one has a perfect marriage, because no human is perfect. The goal is to have an imperfect yet healthy marriage.
Two truths have helped me and my husband maintain an imperfectly healthy marriage:
1. Your marriage won't take care of itself.
This world isn't structured in favor of the flourishing of your marriage; in fact, quite the contrary—it will crush it to smithereens. Give your marriage the respect, the time, and the tending that it needs and deserves.
2. Your marriage is a source of power, a very good kind of power.
If properly tended to, your marriage will become an exponential blessing for your children and your children's children, generation upon generation—whether or not you live to know them. Take great care of your marriage, because it's a source of great power.
Back to the trip. It was obvious when to go: during our annual summer vacation to visit family in New England—my mom is eager and willing to watch our children (the best gift ever).
The big question was where to go. For our 10th anniversary, we spent a week in Paris. For our 15th, we wanted a relaxing beach vacation that didn't require much travel time. When I learned that Bermuda is a 1 hour, 40 minute flight from Boston, it was a no-brainer and the planning commenced.
I was able to get our flights for free using miles on Jet Blue. We don't have many frequent flyer miles, but thanks to Jet Blue's family pooling, we were able to take the miles from our family's 5 cross-country summer flights in 2017 and turn them into 2 round-trip tickets to Bermuda in 2018. Perfecto!
With the flights costing zilch, we chose to spend more on our accommodations. We wanted the trip to feel luxurious, and where you stay is the biggest luxury factor. It's difficult to pick a hotel when you don't know an island. After much research, we selected Cambridge Beaches Resort. It had rave reviews, and they include a daily breakfast feast replete with a made-to-order omelette bar. This pretty much meant we'd only be spending money on dinners, which is a big deal when traveling on a budget.
Cambridge Beaches exceeded all of my expectations. If you don't know much about Bermuda, it's a volcanic sea mountain all by its lonesome in the middle of the Atlantic, 850 miles east of North Carolina. Only 8 miles long, the airport is on the far east side of the island while Cambridge Beaches is on the far west side. In other words, it's as far as you can get from the airport, and you can tell by the beauty and peacefulness. The property is exquisite, perched on a point with four private beaches. The buildings are bubble gum pink, the ocean is opalescent turquoise, the staff is first class. The first thing we did upon arrival was get into our swim suits and set up in lounge chairs on the main beach. It was late afternoon Sunday and boat parties full of people dancing kept floating past. It was a memorable first taste of Bermuda.
Here is a collection of photographs taken at Cambridge Beaches, our home base that we rarely left:
PROS — Cambridge Beaches:
- Beauty: Five stars for setting and beauty.
- Excellent Customer Service: From the bell hops, to the housekeepers, to the restaurant staff, to the concierge, we were impressed over and over again. The cherry on top: We were scheduled to stay 5 nights and got a rate deal based on the length of our stay. Back home, one of our children got injured and surgery was a possibility. We wanted to go home one day early. The hotel kindly canceled the last night of our stay and didn't let it effect our rate.
- Four private beaches with lounge chairs and umbrellas. Food and drink service at the main beach.
- Aquarian Baths: An open-air spa building (bath house) in the center of the property with pool, hot tub, steam room (with colored lights, very cool experience), crystal room (first time encountering this oddity), gym, and $30 per day spa credit.
- Complimentary croquet, tennis, putting green, and one free round of golf per person at a nearby golf course (equipment rental not included).
- Delicious spa water available at all times in the Main Office and Aquarian Baths.
- You can rent scooters, boats, and snorkel gear right on the property.
- Bermuda is known for being an expensive island. We stayed Sunday-Thursday and paid a grand total of $433/night for our waterfront room. This amounts to a pretty good deal, considering the scrumptious breakfast, stunning setting, and all the other amenities that made us feel pampered. We were booked for a garden view room, but they upgraded us to a harbor view room upon arrival.
- There are three restaurants on the property. They offer an optional dining plan.
- The hotel has an impeccable reputation and their devoted guests return year after year. There is a wall where they record your name once you've visited 5 times, 10 times, 15 times, 25 times. One couple has visited over 100 times; impressive customer loyalty.
CONS — Cambridge Beaches:
I have just two complaints:
- Our room décor was a bit outdated. It was old country club style and begging for a refresh. It was very clean, the mattress and all-white bedding were extremely comfortable. It's just the décor that needs updating.
- There is nowhere good AND inexpensive to eat within walking distance of Cambridge Beaches. We knew the hotel's restaurants would be expensive; we were hoping to be able to walk to the nearest town for dinners. There was only one restaurant within walking distance, a pub called Country Squire; we tried it the first night and the food was bad. If we'd chosen a more centrally located hotel, this problem would have been solved, but we would have sacrificed the gorgeous, secluded location.
Tips for Bermuda on a Budget:
- No need to get a rental car or a moped, just use the public bus like we did. It goes everywhere you need to go, the price is right, and you'll get the flavor of the island culture. We were able to get from the airport to our hotel for $5 each; a taxi would have cost $70. That's $60 saved right there. Hop on the bus to explore the island, a single ride is $3.50. Have exact change for the bus driver. Cambridge Beaches Resort is a short walk from the bus stop. Actually, one of my favorite parts of the whole trip was when we first arrived and walked from the bus stop to the hotel—it was magical. We didn't know exactly where we were going, and the setting was breathtaking.
- Don't hassle with changing your money to Bermuda dollars. Although you need a passport to enter Bermuda, you can use American money. One Bermuda dollar = one American dollar.
- We were so happy at Cambridge Beaches that we spent most of our time on their property, exploring the 4 beaches, relaxing, walking. We did venture off on two half-day outings: the first was to Horseshoe Bay, the second to Dockyard.
- GO TO HORSESHOE BAY. This is the most famous beach on the island. When you arrive, walk east and you'll get away from the crowds and be able to find a nice private cove and big rocks to jump off. Bring plenty of water to drink.
- SKIP DOCKYARD. I repeat: Do Not Go to Dockyard. This is where the cruise ships dock. There is a small mall and touristy attractions. It is absolutely awful. Do not go. It is not true Bermuda. It's a tourist trap, don't fall in the trap. Avoid Snorkel Beach at all costs, it is especially awful.
- If you drink alcohol, avoid buying it at restaurants and bars. Go to a local store, buy what you want, and keep it in your room. You can bring it out with you to the beach, or sit in your room with a view and have a toast.
- Tip is included at most restaurants, look closely at your bill.
- The next time I visit, I'll likely try a rental vacation home so I can compare the experience with staying at a high-end resort.
- Talk to the locals any chance you get. It will give you an appreciation for the island and its people.
There's so much more I could say. Comment with any questions about Bermuda, I'd be happy to answer.