About 200 planners and guests attended the New Spirit of Bermuda Gala last fall, marking the completion of about $100 million dollars in renovations and expansions at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts’ Southampton Princess and Hamilton Princess properties.

Enhancements at the 593-room Southampton resort include the addition of the 23,000-square-foot Willow Stream Spa, with 15 treatment rooms, a fitness center with expansive ocean views, and a large indoor pool. From among the many treatments offered, golfers can get a so-called "performance-enhancing" massage, stretching, and acupressure package. Other improvements at the Southampton include a renovated, sun-drenched lobby complete with new 148-seat lounge, renovated meeting rooms, and a new business center.

The 410-room Fairmont Hamilton, just a short ferry ride away, unveiled its Entrée Gold wing, a kind of hotel within hotel that features private check-in, marble bathrooms, concierge and butler services, a 14-seat boardroom, and the historic Adam’s Lounge. With its Wedgwood touches, plaster ceiling details, and floor-to-ceiling windows, the room dates back to the hotel’s beginnings in 1885. The "Pink Palace," as Bermudians call it, has never looked better.

Fairmont threw out the red carpet for our group with a spectacular opening night beach banquet and fireworks. Planners enjoyed a range of island activities: from beachside horseback riding to deep-sea fishing and spa treatments.

The Fairmont gala was tied into a Bermuda Tourism initiative to re-introduce Bermuda as a nearby, sophisticated, safe, foreign-but-familiar island destination with impeccable service. Several planners said they are uncomfortable bringing groups to destinations were there is highly visible poverty. That isn't the case in Bermuda, which looks like a postcard, no matter where you go. —Regina McGee