Sitting atop Bermuda's highest point, this resort is the largest, most comprehensive, and most luxurious property on the island. It overlooks the ocean, the bay, and its own beach, located in front of the hotel. The hotel's beach is sheltered in a jagged cove, flanked by cliffs, and studded with rocky outcroppings lashed by the tides. The atmosphere is mahogany-trimmed conservatism, glowing and rich-looking and perhaps a little bit uptight and stuffy for the party-loving Carnival cruise crowd. This mammoth resort stands on 40 hectares (99 acres) of undulating and verdant land that looks gloriously manicured.
Often compared to its sibling, the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, the Fairmont Southampton is within a swath of greenery that directly abuts the beach, whereas the Fairmont Hamilton is situated in a more urban environment close to shops, offices, and the financial center of the island. This hotel is not necessarily the place for travelers looking for a sense of isolation and an intimate, romantic hideaway; in fact, its biggest drawback is that it's a favorite with conventions and tour groups. Nonetheless, along with Tucker's Point and Elbow Beach, it is considered the finest choices for the well-heeled family looking for a place with virtually everything on-site.
The Fairmont Southampton is decorated in a tastefully conservative style with rare but usually welcome touches of glitziness and razzmatazz, always with well-upholstered furnishings and a sense of airy spaciousness. Baronial staircases connect the public rooms, situated on three floors. The plush guest rooms are arranged in wings that radiate, more or less, symmetrically from a central core. This design gives each luxurious room a private veranda with a sweeping view of the water. Rooms are spacious, each with a larger-than-expected balcony, and either one king or two double beds. For those who can afford it, the choicest accommodations are on the Fairmont Gold floor, a hotel-within-a-hotel, pampering its guests in ultimate luxury on the top floor, offering an array of services from shoeshines to private check-ins. The Gold Floor offers complimentary continental breakfast, newspapers, and the use of a fax and VCR.
The cuisine is among the island's finest -- we recommend several of the resort's restaurants even if you're not staying here. In a place this large, it's hard to keep an eye on quality, but the Fairmont Southampton does admirably well. This is a mammoth operation, but the hotel has wisely split its dining into smaller enclaves. Choices include Wickets, the Newport Room, the Ocean Club, and the Waterlot Inn. Some of the island's finest Italian cuisine is served in the on-site Bacci. Nightlife is a bit staid here, and not every restaurant has a bar that's open to nondiners (the Waterlot Inn does). Jasmine's Lounge has an active singles scene, and live music, usually a jazz combo, beginning most evenings at 8pm. On the premises is a genuinely vast spa, the Fairmont-owned Willow Stream Day Spa, with 20 separate treatment rooms and 31,000 square feet of surface area.
Guests who don't want to leave the premises enjoy a self-contained village of bars, restaurants, shops, and athletic facilities that are among the island's finest. Everyone's favorite pool is a re-creation of a Polynesian waterfall, with streams of heated water spilling from an artificial limestone cliff. You can swim here even during cold weather, thanks to the greenhouse above. A trolley carries guests around the sprawling acreage of the Fairmont Southampton grounds, and a ferry boat reserved for guests only goes from the Waterlot Inn to the piers of the Fairmont Hamilton.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010