We have been to Bermuda before but had never stayed at The Reefs. We decided to stay this visit, due to the excellent reviews it had, and our past visits to the island where we had viewed the property. The Reefs is divided into hotel portion and ownership condos. Because there was construction in the hotel, specifically on the bathrooms, the condos were offered at a discounted price. We stayed 5 nights.
The accommodations were simply spectacular. The room offered two bedrooms, one king and one with two twin beds. Each had its own bathroom with beautiful shower and tub, L’Occitane amenities, large closet with safe and double sinks. Each bedroom had a balcony that connected to the living space, and the king bedroom balcony had a large hot tub. The living room was large with door walls that completely opened to the view of the sea. In addition, there was a beautifully appointed kitchen with Thermidor appliances, a half bath and a room with washer and dryer. Free WIFI worked well. The condo was spotless and cleaned daily. The views were stunning and looked over the hotel’s infiniti pool and beach.
Because it was off season, which we prefer, we expected that the island would be quiet, and that perhaps the hotel would be down in staff a bit. However, that was an understatement. The hotel has 3 restaurants, Coconuts down near the beach, Royston’s, a small interior room, and Ocean Echo, a lovely large room overlooking the sea. The hotel puts out a newsletter each day with daily activities. It stated that Ocean Echo would be available for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day we were there. The website states that dinner would rotate between Royston’s and Ocean Echo with Coconuts being closed for the off season.
We arrived via a taxi the hotel had booked. The greeting from the concierge was half-hearted with no bellman in sight. We were checked in and given a short tour while our bags were left out in the middle of the lobby. We asked a number of questions about the facilities and restaurants, only about half of which were answered. We asked to buy a 3-day bus pass and she told us we would have to get it the next day. We took our own bags to our room and unpacked. We were thrilled with the room, its size and view.
We went up to the restaurant as we were advised to make reservations because it was Saturday night. We asked the gentleman there about dress code and he said “coat and tie” or the maître’d might not let us in. We looked forward to dinner in the Ocean Echo with its beautiful sea view, and dressed accordingly. However, when we arrived at the restaurant, we were told we had to eat in Royston’s, which is the breakfast room. There was no maitre’d in sight, just the same waiter we had spoken to before. There was one couple there with a small child. They were dressed in cargo shorts and flip flops. We were seated right next to them despite the fact that the room was empty. When we asked to sit elsewhere, we were told no, there were not enough tables set for dinner service. During our dinner time, only two other couples, very casually dressed came in and were again seated next to us. Frankly the room could have been at a Holiday Inn anywhere. It was that lacking in atmosphere. The maitre’d did finally show up and was friendly and welcomed us. However, by that time we had been there 20 minutes and had not ordered. It took more than 30 minutes to get our salads, and then more time for the fish entrees. The food was good, not unique, but expensive, as is all food on Bermuda. We skipped dessert due to the amount of time it took to get the main course. We never ate dinner at the hotel again.
When we returned to the room, we found that we had no water. When we turned on the taps, they sputtered and the water stopped. We called the concierge who sent maintenance up. They told us there was a problem with the water because it had just been turned on that day. Strange as The Reefs was open every day. After working on it about 20 minutes, it began running brown water. It looked unsafe and the maintenance man told us not to drink it. We asked how we would brush our teeth or make coffee, and he said we would have to buy water.
My husband went to the concierge who said she would have to send out for water. No expression of concern for our predicament. So my husband walked up to the restaurant and asked for some bottled water. Staff member Wyman was exceptional and gave him 5 bottles of water that we could use. So, we brushed our teeth and made coffee the next morning with bottled water, keeping our eyes and mouth closed when we showered, as if in a third world country.
We went down to breakfast, which was included with our room. The room set up was Royston’s, despite the fact that the day’s newsletter said Ocean Echo was open for breakfast. We walked into Royston’s. No one was present in the restaurant, but a buffet of cereals, fruit and pastries was set out. We helped ourselves and sat down at a table. It turned out that that table was set for dinner and so, when the waitress finally arrived 15 minutes later, we were made to move to one set for breakfast. The watermelon and pineapple were dried out and stale. We did order eggs and the omelet was made to order and tasty. However, our toast was forgotten and never arrived.
We did buy our bus pass from the concierge and we left to explore the island. Because it was off-season, many of the shops and attractions were closed. However, it was lovely to take the ferries and buses and see the colorful homes, flowers and historic sights of this beautiful island.
When we returned to our room, the satellite was out on the television, which required maintenance once more. About an hour later, we experienced the same problem with the water and it totally stopped again. Maintenance told us they had changed water tanks that day and it should resolve. But again we were told not to drink the water. So, we went through the same routine, retrieving bottles of water from the restaurant. No one from the hotel thought to get us water to help us.
We asked to speak to the hotel manager. We did not receive a call. About an hour later, we received a cheese plate and wine with a card from the manager. A nice gesture, but we needed water, not wine, and personal contact from the manager would have been more welcome. The water went back on eventually and we were told the problem was fixed.
The next morning there again was no one in the breakfast room to welcome us or serve. We sat down, got our own food and eventually a waitress came in. She took our order for eggs and bagels, which were ordered with cream cheese. The bagel arrived with no cream cheese. She said “you can go get your own,” and pointed to the buffet table. Again the fruit was dried out and stale. She forgot our juice.
When we were leaving the hotel for the day, we asked the concierge to make us reservations at Fourways Inn, a favorite restaurant of ours, and to order a taxi for 6 pm for us. She took a note. When we returned to the hotel, we asked if the reservation had been made and she confirmed it and said she had ordered a taxi. We dressed and went out to the lobby to get our taxi. A different concierge was there and she said no taxi had been ordered. She called one and we waited in the lobby for 20 minutes. While we were sitting there, a young couple arrived via taxi to have dinner in Ocean Echo. He was on a cane and had trouble walking. He asked where the restaurant was and the concierge said, “downstairs.” They wandered the hallways trying to find it, and eventually returned and we told them to take the elevator down and then walk up to the restaurant. 15 minutes later, while we were still waiting for our taxi, they returned. They went to the concierge and said that no one was in the restaurant to seat them or serve them. They asked for a taxi to leave. Instead of trying to find someone to seat them and serve dinner, she said, “ok” and ordered another taxi. They left without eating. This couple had paid two taxi fares (expensive on Bermuda) to eat at the Reefs, got no dinner, and no one at the Reefs cared.
We had a wonderful dinner at Fourways Inn and returned for a good night’s sleep. We again had breakfast at Royston’s although Ocean Echo was supposed to be open. While waiting for someone to take our order once again, we noticed that there was a bird flying around the room. It landed on the plate of croissants on the buffet, and was picking at them. When the waiter finally arrived we told him about it and he said, “that happens all the time.” Obviously we did not have croissants after that.
We returned to our room and, yes, once again there was no water. We had sputtering faucets and brown liquid once again. We asked to speak to the manager. We were told she was not available and not at the facility. However, we did see her walking through the hallways. We knew who she was because other guests at the hotel also were having problems and had asked to see her. It turns out the water issue was present in the other rooms as well, which is why we were not moved from our room, although the condos were mostly empty. We went to get bottled water for ourselves again. The sound on two of the televisions also did not work. Maintenance came once more.
That afternoon, Alex, one of the concierges, said that he heard from another guest that we were having some issues. We sat and talked with him for more than 30 minutes while he took notes and was very concerned. He provided the service that we would have expected the entire time. He said that he would take all the concerns to management. We said we had tried to talk with the hotel manager to no avail.
We did feel however, that in speaking with Alex that we finally had someone who cared about the lack of service and the water issues.
About 20 minutes later we received a phone call from Ms. Walker, the hotel manager. She said she heard we had issues about the restaurant service, but said that people didn’t like to eat in Ocean Echo because it was large, and they felt isolated when the hotel was not full. We pointed out that it was the only restaurant with sea views, was in the same location as Royston’s, just across the hallway, and that other guests also were upset at not being able to sit in the real restaurant. She brushed aside the issue of the water in the room. She had not spoken to Alex about the details we had provided, and we had to tell her to speak to him to find out all the issues. No apology, no concern. Just told us basically we were wrong.
The next morning, the day we were leaving, when we arrived for breakfast, Ocean Echo was open and we were greeted by a waiter! We were escorted to a waterview table which was very nice. We still had to go into Royston’s to get our buffet items. The fruit was fresh!!! The waiter then took our order for eggs and toast. About 5 minutes later he came to our table and said, “I put your breakfast order in and it will be ready in about 5 minutes. However, I have to go serve room service so I will be gone about 15 minutes. I’ll bring your breakfast when I return.” We and the other guests were puzzled as to why, once again, there was only one person working both the restaurant and room service, and why room service took precedence over those of us eating in the dining room. He finally returned and served us our eggs. Our toast never arrived. We left.
It is with reluctance that I write this review because truly the location and accommodation in the condos at The Reefs are spectacular. But, with the hotel portion closed, it is obvious that the facility is operating on a true skeleton crew and service reflects that. Often we would go into the lobby or return from a day out, and there would be no one at the front desk at all. It is also clear that management priorities were centered on surviving the off-season and preparing for busier times. They were barely prepared to provide the minimum for off-season guests.
While the room rates were reduced, they still mirror those of any nice resort in the Caribbean – the Ritz Carlton in San Juan for example. Were we paying the normal condo rate of more than $1500 per night, we would have been truly incensed. And, small things in the room just didn’t quite make it the 6 star experience. The maids never replaced things like toilet paper or other amenities, for which we had to ask. There were 4 bathrobes in the closets, but two had belts missing and two had ripped and torn belt loops and sides. The bed pillows were literally like sandbags and we had to ask for better pillows
We are reminded by the saying that guests go to a hotel or restaurant the first time for the accommodation, location or food, but they return because of the service. With the exception of Alex and Wyman, there was no service. No management concern. And no water. We will return to Bermuda. We will not return to The Reefs.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Widely recognized as the best hotel in Bermuda, this award-winning and intimate hotel offers spectacular ocean views from every room. Perched along limestone cliffs overlooking its own private beach you'll enjoy legendary Bermudian hospitality and gourmet dining at three different restaurants. The Reefs is one place where you will feel perfectly at ease. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Reefs Hotel Southampton
- Reefs Hotel Southampton
- Reefs Resort Southampton
- The Reefs Bermuda/Southampton Parish
- Reefs Bermuda