Inside Louis Walsh’s Bermuda X Factor Judge’s House – a travel guide

Louis Walsh and the Groups jet off to Bermuda for a jaw-dropping audition setting and there are plenty of reasons to add it to your holiday wish list

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The X Factor Judges’ Houses stage has changed from being a snoop around the judges’ real houses, to an all-out glam-off as the audition destinations vary from Dubai, Las Vegas and Barbados to this year’s choices of Mexico, LA, Nice and Bermuda.

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Lucky Louis Walsh, who traditionally used to head off to Ireland for this stage of the competition, bagged Las Vegas last year with his guest judge Sharon Osbourne and this year it’s Bermuda with former judge Tulisa Contostavlos by his side.

Yes, Bermuda.

Bonkers, eh? Mel B has whizzed her Boys off to Mexico with guest judge Emma Bunton, Simon Cowell and Sinitta welcomed the Overs in LA, while Cheryl called on Tinie Tempah to help her out with the Girls in the sun-drenched setting of Nice, France.

But let’s get back to Louis in Bermuda. In a pink hotel, no less.

The hotel 

Fairmont Southampton, 101 South Shore Road, Bermuda, SN02

So you can get booking, Louis stayed in the Fairmont Southampton, which sits proudly above a Championship Par-3 golf course, with a knock-out private beach, stunning spa, bundles of restaurants and a sparkling outdoor swimming pool.

There’s 593 rooms and I had the chance to have a peek around Louis’ room (after he’d left, mind), which came complete with four bathrooms. Four. One for each day he was there, maybe?

Apart from the likes of the two-floored suites (said to often be used for weddings and parties), the rooms are pretty much the same size throughout, with a walk-in wardrobe so big hotel staff told me it was often the topic of conversation on departure. Rooms on the Gold floor (where Louis stayed) are similar, albeit you get access to a private restaurant/bar area for breakfast, drinks and nibbles throughout the day, as well as free access to Wi-Fi.


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The hotel’s spa will feature a lot in the show, as unfortunately for Louis and the Groups – which this year includes a bumper eight-member band – it rained a lot during their stay. This meant original audition spots on the beach pretty much had to be skipped, including on neighbouring Horseshoe Bay, which has been voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world. It’s easy to see why; the sand is a gentle pink hue and the huge rock formations sit impressively in the water. It’s much quieter than the hotel’s main beach and only a short walk away.

Tulisa did manage to make it into the sea for a dramatic Bond Girl-style entrance, which will show off the crystal clear waters (and a bikini body to die for!).

But on-site, the Willow Stream Spa is equally as glamourous. There’s a private balcony for sun bathing with brilliant views of the ocean, as well as a large indoor pool and heaps of indulgent treatments on offer. Louis and Tulisa used the area to speak to the acts, and small interviews were filmed here.

X Factor host Dermot O’Leary was on hand in the spa to give acts encouragement and mop up the wave of happy and unhappy tears – hotel staff say the whole process ran very smoothly.

The beach-based Ocean Club restaurant was used for filming some of the auditions and is easily the best of the nine on-site restaurants. Wahoo fish, a delicious local dish, is the top choice to get you in the holiday and island spirit.

Tours

Once the cameras stopped rolling, Tulisa spent time looking around the island with local tour guide Larry Rogers, who seems to know just about everyone and everything about the island.

Aside from sampling a Rum Swizzle drink –  a must in Bermuda – made of dark rum and various fruit juices (different spots have their own versions, but the Swizzle Inn, 3 Blue Hole Hill, Baileys Bay, CR 04, does it well), Tulisa climbed the hundred odd stairs to take a look out of the Gibb’s Hill lighthouse (Lighthouse Road, St Anne’s Rd, Cross Bay SN 01) as well as tour the Crystal & Fantasy Caves (8 Crystal Caves Road, Hamilton Parish). Both offer a stunning insight into Bermuda, with Gibb’s above ground offering expansive views of the island (including a birds-eye view of the Fairmont Southampton).

Meanwhile, the caves contain beautiful stalactites, which hover above pools of azure blue water. Local guides spend a lot of time in the caves and have found many recognisable shapes in the crystals (which take hundreds and hundreds of years to form), including their own Statue of Liberty and a one-eyed frog. Word of warning: don’t drop anything in the water, it’s 30-odd feet deep. A cruise pass, expensive sunglasses and an iPhone are among the possessions waiting to be found by divers during an annual clear out…

Alternatively, a Jet Ski tour is also a great way to see the island. The Fairmont does their own guided Safari Adventure trips at the Waterlot (free shuttle buses run from reception). You hop on one Jet Ski and follow the guide as he speeds you out to, among other things, the tip of the Bermuda Triangle. Here there’s a sunken ship (which was purposefully capsized to force other ships to sail closer to shore, in case Bermuda was ever under attack and needed them to be in shooting range) and plenty of fish to feed. Our guide even found time to take us to a local cliff diving spot, with old artillery stores used by the British Navy nestled underneath the hills. 

For a group tour on land, book with Hidden Gems (call +1-441-704-0999), run by Ashley and Jason. Ashley is a bundle of energy and they’re both super passionate about sharing information and stories about their island home – from cliff jumping and sampling locally made ice cream, to walks and snorkelling with tropical fish around preserved coral reefs, there’s plenty packed into a few hours. You’ll also get to learn about the fruits in the trees you should eat, walk around Tom Moore’s jungle and navigate your way through hidden caves.


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You’ll also drive through pretty much every parish on the island, with highlights including the botanical gardens and various churches. You also see lots of the locals’ houses, which come in an array of colours (said to be chosen by the female in the family). The tour kits you out with a backpack filled with essentials for the trip, which is a handy extra.

Activities

Yoga/ Paddle boarding

For a more relaxing experience, head to Surf SUP at Daniel’s Head beach (4 Long Bay Lane, Sandys). Here you can turn your hand to paddle boarding (where you can also make your way out to the tip of the Bermuda Triangle) and also try paddle board yoga with Kinetix. Suitable for both beginners and those more advanced, the boards are weighed down, so you won’t float away, but the water-based boards certainly add a new dimension to the practice. No falling in, now! Staff also take photos during your class, which you can get access to online.

Paddle boards US/Berm $30 first hour, $15 thereafter (£18 and £9) and SUP Yoga $40 (£25) per class.

Coconut Rockets Flyboarding

If you’ve ever wished you could be superhero Iron Man, this is the sport for you. At the Royal Navy Dockyard (Sandys Parish), the Coconut Rockets Flyboarding team straps what is essentially a skateboard with boots to your feet, attached via a hose to a Jet Ski. The Jet Ski’s power is pumped to the board on your feet, so once you’re safely out in open water, power will begin to pump up under your feet, blasting you up into the air. It’s all down to you once you’re up in the air. Keep your balance and you can literally float around above the water (probably with a big snap-happy audience watching you from nearby boats). Get it wrong and you’ll drop back in the water. Which does sting like a belly flop at the wrong angle, but not enough to take the fun out of it. A good choice if you’re after an adrenalin rush, although notably pricey at around £100 for thirty minutes.

St George’s Town

Head to the historic town of St George’s, the first permanent English settlement on the island, for an educational day out. Look out for a 12pm re-enactment of traditional punishments, which sees a local MP dunked in water for being a convicted gossip. It’s all an act, but they’re blooming convincing. You may even find yourself doing the dunking, as spectators are asked to get involved. The MP is said to do this five times a week as a way of getting involved in local events and being seen to be around by the locals. A good lunch spot is Wahoo Bistro for more of that delicious fish. The Bermuda National Trust Museum (32 Duke of York Street, St George) offers an easy-to-digest guide to Bermuda’s history too at just $5 (£3) a visit.

Louis’ Judges’ Houses episode will be shown tonight, with a sneak peek at Mel B’s Judges’ Houses with the Boys . Mel took her category and guest judge Emma Bunton to the Occidental Grand XCaret Resort, Rivera Maya, Mexico.

On Saturday the rest of Mel’s episode will be shown. Sunday night will see Simon Cowell and Sinitta choose the Overs in LA, as well as Cheryl Fernandez-Versini with Tinie Tempah in Nice, France choosing the Girls (which both appear to be private residences).

Judges’s Houses takes place Friday (9pm), Saturday and Sunday night (8pm) on ITV

Save at least £395 per person at the Fairmont Southampton in November with Prestige Holidays (01425 480400 www.prestigeholidays.co.uk). On one of the highest points in Bermuda, this luxury resort features a pink sandy beach, two golf courses and a spa. A seven-night stay departing on 4 November costs from £1,268 per person, with two free nights and a British Airways saving, including: return flights with British Airways from London Gatwick, accommodation on a room only basis with private transfers. Also receive a $25 resort  credit per room per night to spend in resort.

For further information about Bermuda, please visit: www.gotobermuda.co.uk For further information about the Fairmont Southampton Resort, please visit: http://www.fairmont.com/southampton-bermuda/

Emma travelled to Bermuda with support from British Airways (ba.com) and was hosted by the Fairmont Southampton hotel. When Radio Times contributors receive assistance from travel providers such as tourist boards, airlines and hotel to conduct first-hand research, we retain our editorial independence at all times, and never accept anything in return for positive coverage.


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