Clintons re-kindle their love for BDA on low-key, whirlwind visit
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 11:39 AM
Down-to-earth Bill and Hillary Clinton wanted to be treated like any other tourists on vacation here, on an island they described as "a beautiful paradise."
The former U.S. president and his secretary of state wife spent two days walking around hand-in-hand, posing for photos and "asking lots of questions about Bermuda."
They enjoyed having the time to relax and said they once again got to see "the wonderful people with open hearts."
Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, who arrived last Tuesday evening, were spotted dining alongside other guests at Cambridge Beaches and swimming at the beach.
They were in Bermuda to celebrate Mr. Clinton's 63rd birthday and to re-visit the island where their daughter Chelsea was conceived. The couple hadn't been to Bermuda for 30 years and agreed that was "too long."
They were expected to stay until Saturday but "deeply regretted" having to cut short their trip and fly back to Washington on Thursday evening due to the threat of Hurricane Bill.
It was not the couple's choice to leave; they wanted to stay until at least the following day, but their staff insisted on it. The Clintons therefore expressed an interest in returning to Bermuda "before too long."
Mr. and Mrs. Clinton bought a staff of four with them - two members of staff each. There were also surrounded by a "discreet but visible" security team.
Michael J. Winfield, president and CEO of Cambridge Beaches, said: "As high-profile guests, they didn't hide away, they were extremely keen to act like other guests.
"They strolled down for breakfast in the morning; we said we'd come to their table, but they insisted on standing in the buffet line and chatted to others who were also waiting.
"They were very open and happily interacted with other guests."
Mr. Winfield said the couple just seemed grateful for having the chance to "relax and not be disturbed."
He said: "They asked lots of questions about Bermuda. They asked about how we catch our water and how all the roofs are white. They thought that was really smart. They said they had a wonderful time. They lead enormously stressful and taxing lives and rarely see much time to just, simply relax."
The couple stayed at a pool suite at Cambridge Beaches, which promises to as "indulge your most decadent desires for the finer things." The cliff-top suite had its own plunge pool, panoramic ocean and sunset views, a whirlpool bath and high-end Bose surround-sound system.
They had breakfast on the Tamarisk Terrace, lunch at Shutters and swam in the pool and at one of the resort's beaches.
To celebrate Mr. Clinton's birthday the couple enjoyed a candle-lit dinner on a private beach and watched the sunset with waves lapping at their feet.
Mr. Clinton also got in a round of golf at the newly-designed Port Royal, saying he'd had "a fabulous time and loved the course," which will host the PGA Grand Slam in October.
Andrew Brooks, director of golf at the course, said the former president was impressed with what he saw.
"He thought it was spectacular. He said he loved the golf course and even made a birdie at the 9th."
The secret-service did a routine check of the course before Mr. Clinton and his staff showed up to play but there was no interruption to other golfers.
"It was very low key, very nicely put together," added Mr. Brooks, who believes Port Royal is likely to become the course that most high profile visitors to the island want to play.
The Clintons also made the time to meet Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and wife Wanda, Governor Sir Richard Gozney, Lady Gozney and U.S. Consul General Grace Shelton for cocktails at Horizons in Paget, where they stayed on their last vacation to Bermuda.
They spent just over an hour at the bar terrace of Splendido restaurant "talking politics" on Thursday evening. Mr. Clinton drank tea and diet coke, saying he had a sore throat, while Mrs. Clinton drank gin and tonic.
Angelo Buglione, owner and general manager of Splendido, said the couple had been "trying to bring the memories back."
He said: "They were very sweet, very sociable people. They said they'd had an absolutely fabulous time and would always remember Bermuda.
"They asked about the planned development here and had lots of questions, but they were already aware of everything that's going on.
"They described Bermuda as a charming place, they said it was still a beautiful paradise with wonderful people with open hearts."
The Clintons were given a quick tour of the property and Mrs. Clinton commented to her husband "look darling, it's so romantic." They were "very keen to see the room" they had stayed in 30 years ago, but unfortunately didn't have the time.
Dr. Brown said he was delighted to join the Clintons for cocktails and described them as being "as warm as ever."
He said: "Secretary Clinton recalled our chat at the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain last April and she again thanked Bermuda for its assistance with the relocation of the Uyghurs.
"President Clinton said he couldn't believe 30 years had passed since he and his wife had been to Bermuda. He praised the Port Royal Golf Course and let me know he scored a birdie on the ninth hole.
"They love the island and promised to return soon for a longer stay."
Mr. Winfield said it was a "great honour" for the Clintons to stay at Cambridge Beaches. Their staff had visited the island in advance and selected the resort as it "met the couple's criteria."
He said: "Clearly their visit has brought excellent profile to both Bermuda and our resort at a time when we needed it most. We are looking forward to welcoming them back in the not too distant future."
The couple "didn't want anyone to know their plans in advance" so staff at Cambridge Beaches were told to remain on standby "ready to respond almost instantly."