Paradise Papers – Bermuda
If you have had your TV on in the past 48 hours, you will have heard all about the Paradise Papers which are currently all over the news featuring one of our favourite destinations, the island of Bermuda. It is on this small island that the papers have apparently been leaked from and have named and shamed many high profile celebrities including the Queen, Prince Philip and even our Formula One Hero Lewis Hamilton. Twitter has been in a frenzy with lots of people calling for them to pay the tax back, don’t let them wrap themselves in the Union Jack! and many more demands and opinions. You have to wonder what on earth did someone say to that person that decided, lets see what happens when I slide these papers out the office! Hell hath no fury and all that! So it got me thinking back to our recent visit to the beautiful island of Bermuda in August this year.
I have travelled the Caribbean extensively and this was one island I had not yet managed to visit, but had been on my list for a long time. With the excuse of a big birthday celebration the splurge was justified and worth it. I say splurge as Bermuda is not your cheapest option available when considering the Caribbean, but its also not the most expensive. It does offer a variety of accommodation to suit most budgets and a choice of flights from the UK both direct and indirect. We have often sold it as a popular two centre holiday with New York for the city experience and Bermuda for the beach chill out and relax. So for me I was attracted to the island for its golf and so see with my own eyes the pink sands and crystal clear waters that surround the island and being British I love that Colonial feel that destinations around the world have maintained.
Having visited the island, I can understand 100% the attraction with this charming island, and if I had enough money that I could look at tax avoidance programmes, I’d be looking at banking tax-free, in the sunny climate of Bermuda. This island is very different to any of its Caribbean neighbours but so attractive with its British influence, so much so we likened it to the Isle of Wight, The Isle of Mann and even Jersey, but with much more sunshine! In August, how could we have know that this island had more in common with its British Islands than that of an architectural and colonial feel. However when I think back the second row of buildings were home to very modern office blocks and they had to be doing something more than just local tax or tourism offices.
So where is Bermuda?
Bermuda lies in the North Atlantic Ocean, a British island territory famous for its warm climate, pink beaches and the famous Bermuda Triangle where it is claimed ships and aircraft have disappeared. A year-round destination, that sits outside the hurricane season makes it a popular destination to visit. Summer months are hot and sunny with the chance of rain, however, it’s close proximity to the UK (just 7 hours) and its vast choice of accommodation ranging from budget to luxury 5-star hotels is one of the main reason for its popularity with families. Easter, May and even late October also offer warm sunny days for perfect beach weather and family time. With a selection of fabulous golf courses, it offers the golfer year-round golf on well-maintained golf courses with very little traffic due to the high priced green fees.
Who goes to Bermuda?
Cruise ships are the growing visitors to the island bringing tourists to the island but not necessarily income. As a tourist staying on the island you are warned of the arrival days of the cruise lines and avoidance of the popular attractions are highly recommended. We saw this when staying in the Fairmont Hamilton down at Horseshoe Bay, on a non-cruise day the beach was stunning with only a handful of people, one day later and two cruise ships arrivals and it was packed.
Accommodation on Bermuda ranges from self-catering apartments to luxury boutique hotels with only a few options offering an all-inclusive dining option. Grotto Bay offers the best all inclusive option for families and includes free public transport passes which is one huge saving as getting around Bermuda is not a cheap option, Visitors are not allowed to rent cars, only scooters or 2-Seater smart cars. Bicycles can be hired to get out and explore but expect to pay anything from £40 per day for a push bike and £90 per day for a scooter. You can see the attraction of the local transport with costs like these for rental. Taxis are not much better with most fares over 40USD for a simple 20-minute ride.
Best time to go to Bermuda?
Although it is noted as being outside the hurricane zone it can have similar weather to that of the Caribbean and when hurricanes are out in the Atlantic, expect Bermuda to have stormy weather.
After all its signature drink is called a Dark and Stormy and that is not because the sun shines every day. That said when the sun is out, this is one beautiful island with pink sands and crystal clear blue seas.
Visit in the months of May to July for great sunbathing weather, (May to October is claimed the best time but it does get very hot in August and September and stormy weather can be on the cards) September to January is the perfect time for golfing weather just after the greens have been top dressed.
Are we surprised?
After spending 10 days on the island of Bermuda, using the public transport and talking with the locals when out golfing, sightseeing or eating, we are not surprised to hear that its been a hiding place for a lot of money. The results of their recent elections caused one of our taxi drivers to tell us that the government had changed, but not to get him on the subject. He then went on to tell us how to operate a taxi it had cost him $100 dollars for the license and he then had to commit to keep it on the road for a minimum of 16 hours a day. At an average of $40 bucks a ride on an island that is 22 miles in length and about a mile across, they must get the taxi license back relatively quickly. Car rental is not available for non residents and only this past year did they introduce a 2-Seater smart car for rent called a Twizy that can be rented at a cost of $100 per day plus insurance.
The alternative is the local bus service which is on its knees due to the need of investment and the service can be disrupted with broken down busses. Whilst we were there the schools were due to go back but the busses were not all operational so the taxi drivers were on alert to ferry the kids to school! Yet the government spent $24.5 million on Port Royal Golf Course renovation something that only the wealthy will benefit from with a green fee of $180 per person per round, which when we played was like millionaires golf with no-one in front of us or behind for at least 4 holes each way. Thankfully our green fees had been part of a charity auction package that we had bid for to go to Bermuda. If not, we would have only been visiting the 19th hole.
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