Royalty, celebrities, artists and captains of industry have a long history of enjoying Bermuda’s special brand of sophisticated charm and understated luxury. But probably no other celebrity can trace his roots in Bermuda further back than Academy Award-winning actor Michael Douglas. And as I found out in a recent interview, nobody loves to esecape to this historic island in the Atlantic more than Michael Douglas does either.
“What’s so special about Bermuda?” I ask the legendary actor and producer who’s busier than ever working on the sequel to 1990’s cult movie favorite Flatliners with Kiefer Sutherland and getting ready to return as Dr. Hank Pym in the sequel to the Marvel blockbuster Ant-Man.
“I’ve gone there all my life,” he says. “My mom’s family has been in Bermuda pretty much since the island was settled in the 1600s.”
In fact, Douglas’s mother Diana was a member of one of the oldest and most respected families in Bermuda when she died in 2015 at the age of 92. She was also Hollywood royalty in her own right, with a distinguished acting career and marriage to Kirk Douglas from 1943-1951.
“My first birthday was spent in Bermuda and I’ve been going ever since,” he adds. “It’s always been a special place to get together with family and friends.”
For Douglas and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, their home in Bermuda has been more than just another vacation home. They’ve spent some extended time in Bermuda raising their young kids (who are teenagers now) away from the spotlight of New York and Los Angeles, and they return to connect with family and friends as often as they can.
Chances are Douglas will be returning to Bermuda even more frequently this year as plans to redevelop the beachfront property that has been in his late mother’s family for generations continue to gather momentum.
Until it closed in early 2008, the Ariel Sands hotel, set on 14 acres of waterfront on Bermuda’s south shore, was owned and operated by the Bermuda branch of Douglas’s family tree since it opened in 1954.
“I have a lot of wonderful memories of that place,” he says of the property. And there are plenty of stories of Douglas enjoying the low-key charms of the classic cottage-style resort with his buddy Jack Nicholson and other Hollywood elite.
Douglas is working closely with local experts in Bermuda on the development of the property, and he’s quick to add that being involved in Ariel Sands as a real estate developer is a bit different than just going down to hang out and have fun. But he cares about the legacy of the property, and hopes Ariel Sands will give something positive back to the island he obviously loves very much.
I bet the skills he’s developed as a Hollywood producer will come in handy too.
“Bermuda has some of the best beaches in the world,” he continues with intoxicating enthusiasm. “The water is warm in the summer. The golf courses are gorgeous. The people are sophisticated. And the America’s Cup has really made Bermuda the place to be this summer.
“But you know what the best thing about Bermuda is?” he asks in his distinctive voice.
“Proximity,” he continues like Gordon Gekko might have said to Bud Fox in the original Wall Street before I had a chance to respond.
“It’s got all that plus it was the first, and probably will be the last, English colony that’s only a 90-minute flight from New York!”
Technically, Bermuda is the United Kingdom’s oldest Overseas Territory, but he’s absolutely right.
If you’re looking for a fresh new getaway destination, Michael Douglas’s Bermuda is worlds away from the everyday.
A major announcement about the progress of the Ariel Sands project took place just after this issue went to press.
Visit oceanhomemag.com/arielsands for more information and images.
Image Credits: Photos courtesy of Michael Douglas.