Mayor Michael Bloomberg loves Bermuda, but he doesn't want New York to know just how much.
The New York Times is reporting today that the city's three-term mayor is a regular fixture on the island -- so much so that he is easily recognizable by the cab drivers, regularly dines with top name Bermudans, and fellow members of the Mid Ocean golf club are familiar with his game.
"He's a bit slow, to be honest," a fellow Mid Ocean golfer told the Times, adding that he was recently stuck behind the mayor's group.
While Mayor Bloomberg owns a waterfront estate on the tropical island, he is reluctant to share this part of his world with New York voters, arguing it is none of their business, according to the Paper of Record. His trips are kept secret, and has even blocked aviation Web sites from revealing his flight schedule to the public, the Times added.
Island residents, however, see Bloomberg as one of their own. They follow his political agenda, New York City's crime rate, and even believe that Bermuda is an asset to Bloomberg's success in office.
"We provide him with a place to unwind for a day or two, and then go back to a very important job, not just to New York, but to the world," John Swan, Bermuda's former premiere and a regular Bloomberg lunch guest, told the Times.
From multiple interviews with residents, it seems like the 68-year-old mayor has fully-integrated into the society, mingling with lawmakers, hosting small house parties, and driving the streets in his golf cart. But how often he hangs around is unclear.
Friends and neighbors told the Times he visits twice a month, as long as the weather is sunny and his political schedule in New York allows him to leave.
He is such a fixture that Bermudans wonder if Bloomberg is OK if they don't see him around for a long period of time. The manager of Rustico, who noticed that the mayor had not been around much last summer, asked his Bermudan housekeeper if things were okay. She explained that Bloomberg was working on his third campaign, but would be back, reported the Times.
The Times notes that New York City mayors are known for their around the clock schedule, showing face at public events even on the weekends.
Mayor Bloomberg is the exception. The Times reported that his aides avoid scheduling public events after Friday mornings, which allows him to make the quick two-hour flight for the weekend. In fact, the mayor hasn't had public events scheduled after 10 a.m. on 13 of the 17 Fridays since December 31, said the Times. Bloomberg's aides insist Bermuda is close enough for him to return, but important events have been missed - and people have noticed.
One was when a City Hall aide was struck by a car early on a Sunday morning in February and fell into a coma. The Times said the mayor spoke with the aide's family over phone and met with them late Sunday afternoon, after returning from his trip.
He even missed the annual Greek Independence Day Parade two weeks ago on Fifth Avenue, an event he has attended for the past two years. He was grand mashal in 2006, and printed up thousands of signs that read, "Greeks for Mike Bloomberg" for his mayoral campaign last year.
Bermudans say he was on the island both weekends. Stu Loeser, a spokesman for Bloomberg, told the Times, "The mayor, like every one, is entitled to some privacy, which is why we generally don't discuss how he spends his personal time."
Other amenities of Bloomberg include police escorts on his private plane. There are usually two, and they spend the night at a hotel close to his home at the cost of $400 a night. The NY Times reported that the city pays their wages. In addition, they are allowed to carry around guns - a rarity, as guns are largely forbidden in the country. A spokesman for the Police Department declined to comment to the NY Times.
Bermuda's former premiere doesn't think Mayor Bloomberg's time in Bermuda affects his ability to run the city - even when he is golfing.
"He is never out of reach here," Mr. Swan told the Times. "People think his is going off to some isolated place where he can't be found, but he can return with very short notice," He added, " We are much closer to New York than Florida is."
One of Bloomberg's favorite pastimes on the island is golf. Reportedly, he is a member of not just the Mid Ocean golf club (which has a $50,000 initiation fee), but Tucker's Point club as well. Both are close enough to walk to from his home.
Michael H. Dunkley, a member of the Bermudan Senate and the president of Md Ocean, told the Times that the mayor regularly played 36 holes on Saturday and 18 on Sunday -- totaling up to 15 hours of golf in one weekend.
"We wish all of our oversees members played as much as he does," Dunkley told the paper.
The Times also reported that Bloomberg also enjoys dining out while he's away, frequenting Port O Call and Tom Moore's Tavern, where the dishes average $40 dollars.
In January, Bloomberg and his companion, Diana L. Taylor, had dinner at the Point, one of the most popular first-class restaurants on the island. He left a $175 tip in addition to the 17 percent gratuity the restaurant automatically adds.
"I was very lucky that night," the waiter who served him told the Times. The server asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing his job and future tips from the mayor.
While Bloomberg enjoys celeb-status amenities, he values his privacy. The NY Times said his assistants made his reservations under an alias for years to avoid any fuss.
He has gone as far as to request that the Bermudan government seal his housing records after being elected mayor, according to a letter from his architect, reported the Times. The government refused. His solution was to allow the vegetation surrounding his house grow, shielding the view from the water.
His celeb status extends to his companions on the island. Bloomberg reportedly dines with Bermuda's current premiere, Ewart F. Brown, whose wife is friends with Taylor, and has even shown up at the home of H. Ross Perot, who lives up the street.
Despite his $10 million home, which includes a private beach, Bloomberg has few house parties, said the Times. But neighbors that are invited over covet the rare moments they see him, saying he is relaxed and friendly after his weekend golf games.
"He makes the perfect neighbor," next door neighbor, David A. Brown, told the Times. "He is very respectful; he never makes noise."