Superstar Douglas: Why I love Bermuda
EXCLUSIVE By Chris Gibbons
(News from 2003-09-26 Edition)
He may be one of the famous and powerful faces in Hollywood, but Oscar-winning movie star and producer Michael Douglas likes to keep a low profile when he’s in Bermuda, the place that he and superstar actress wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, their son Dylan and new addition daughter Carys, born in April, have come to regard as the first choice of their many homes around the world.
In a rare local interview — and the first since he and Zeta_Jones for the first time about the love affair he and Zeta-Jones bought a house in Warwick in 2001.
When we meet on the panoramic verandah of his charming old Bermuda home, Mr. Douglas looks relaxed in a well-worn red Hawaiian shirt, loose beige canvas pants and reef sandals. Although he turned 59 yesterday (the same day that his wife turned 34), and the trademark sweep of wavy hair is now grey, he looks trim and healthy enough for a man 15 years younger.
“We just love it here,” says Mr. Douglas, who celebrated his first birthday in Bermuda and has been visiting the Island on and off ever since. He also reveals that it was Catherine who persuaded him to buy a home here.
“Catherine and I were living in New York where I’ve had an apartment for years and we were thinking it would be nice to have a place in the country so we could get out of the city once in a while. We were not big fans of the Hamptons, we liked Connecticut and then I brought Catherine down here and I warned her: ‘I’ve got a big family’ but she just fell in love with it, the fact that they drive on the left side of the road, the Queen and all that.”
Mr. Douglas says he and his family cherish the island’s “incredible ability to respect everybody’s privacy”.
He adds: “The best thing is that there’s no paparazzi and this I can tell you, is such a blessing and a joy for us.”
He says the couple likes being able to enjoy a quiet dinner without attracting too much attention. “In New York, by the time you’ve finished your meal, there’s press pictures. You deal with it all the time. It’s life and there’s a lot worse things but privacy issues have become more and more important, what with the Internet and what you can do with digital cameras and all that stuff. People have got more and more greedy about it.”
“We’ve found it to be a great respite for our family,” he adds. “We had no idea what a great place it was for raising kids.” Son Dylan attends pre-school on the island and can frequently be spotted with mum and dad enjoying the island’s outdoor lifestyle.
When they are on the island, Mr. Douglas says they like to live a normal family life. “In the mornings we take our kids to pre-school then we work out or play golf, have lunch and then, because of the time difference at 1 o’clock it’s 9 in LA so from 2 to about 6 or 7 I’m working or reading. But other than that we get together with friends, do normal stuff ... take a nap! We’re pretty easy really.”
Mr. Douglas says the family spends around two months on the island at any one time, although last week he was visiting on his own to survey the damage inflicted on Ariel Sands and their home by Hurricane Fabian.
Says Mr. Douglas: “I’ve got to say how impressed I was with everyone with the clean-up after hurricane. The Government should take a lot of credit, the Regiment work was fantastic — I mean it was really impressive and the attitude of Bermudians was great to see.”
In the event, their home suffered some roof damage and the loss of some avocado and cedar trees but Ariel suffered “substantial damage”. A mini tornado ripped through the property tearing the roofs off four cottages, causing an estimated $2.5 million worth of damage.
But, as Mr. Douglas proudly reports, the hotel was back in business this week. Mr. Douglas is also excited about plans to develop the Ariel property which will see thirteen $3 million luxury four-bedroom villas built between the hotel and South Shore Road, each with its own spa facilities, garden and infinity plunge pools.
It is, he reasons, the smart thing to do if the hotel is going to remain viable as tourism on the island continues a seemingly downward spiral.
“Tourism, I don’t need to tell you, is really hard — it’s terrible, especially for a hotel our size,” states Mr. Douglas. “What I see right now is that unless you get a lot of hotels and airlines coming in you’ve got to be a four or five star hotel. Bermuda is going to be expensive because you can’t compete with the Caribbean with the airfares and package deals you can do there. Also we’re at that awkward size, 47 rooms, where we can put up 20-25 more rooms without a dramatic increase in employees, only housekeeping really, then you can start really making a go. You’re talking about a place that is dramatically seasonal so you’ve got to be 95 to 100 per cent full during high season to win.”
Even so, Mr. Douglas remains bullish about Bermuda as a destination.
“For a start, this island has more great restaurants per capita than anything I’ve ever seen!” he stated ands rattles off a few favourites, including The Waterlot, Coconuts, and the late lamented Mickey’s and Lido at Fabian-flattened Elbow Beach. “The Seahorse Grill up in the hotel at Elbow is also really nice. The new one at Grape Bay Beach Hotel (formerly The White Sands) Sapori, is really good. Claudio Vigilante is doing a real good job with Aqua at Ariel Sands. Then in town you’ve got Port of Call, Little Venice, L’Oriental, Harbourfront, Primavera, Ascots ... I mean, Bermuda has a great bunch of really good restaurants which you never hear about in travel articles.”
As a keen player, he’s also a big fan of the Island’s golf course. A member at Mid Ocean and Riddell’s Bay, he plays around the Island whenever he can. “The golf here is incredible, especially compared to the Caribbean,” he enthuses. “Nowhere comes close to the amount of golf you can play on an island this size.
Mr. Douglas hopes to get to play a few more rounds this Fall as the family take it easy after a busy few years which has seen the couple appear opposite each other in Traffic, Douglas star in The In-Laws, Wonder Boys, and with dad Kirk in It Runs In The Family, not to mention the birth of Carys and Catherine Zeta-Jones’s Oscar-winning performance in Chicago.
The family will be based in Bermuda from October through mid-December and Mr. Douglas says with a smile: “This fall I’m just going to enjoy my kids.”
2003 Bermuda.com LTD
This excerpt is adapted with permission from an exclusive interview for Bermuda.com. The full interview will appear online only in the October 1 issue of the Bermuda.com newsletter: log on to www.imakenews.com/bermudacom/ to subcribe today
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