Over 60% of GDP in the Bahamas is from tourism and over 90% of of the luxury resort accommodations in the Bahamas are open for business – now – untouched by Dorian.
If you have been wondering how to help, taking a vacation in the Bahamas is a good way. After hurricanes, history tells us visitor numbers drop, and that impacts the entire supply chain for resorts, including many local businesses.
I spoke to nearly a dozen top travel advisors who generously broke away from their workload to share their top picks for best resorts and suites. In fact, there were so many, this issue focuses exclusively on 21-mile long New Providence, home to the capital Nassau, so expect a follow-up on the Outer Islands soon!
In addition to great resorts and amazing suites and residences, you will also find what Wine Spectator calls one of the world’s best wine cellars where you can have a private dinner.
A quick vacation to our neighbors across from Florida is a great way to help in their recovery. And by the way, Nassau is 30 minutes in the air from Miami just to show you how close it is.
“We are still booking clients to the Bahamas,” says Kristie England of Universal Travel in Beaumont, Texas.
Lesley Cohen, an advisor with SmartFlyer, adds since Dorian a corporate client and a large 40th birthday group who were both previously considering a variety of destinations decided on Rosewood Baha Mar and the SLS Baha Mar specifically to support the Bahamas.
Located on 600 acres on the island’s southwestern edge, Jack Ezon, founder of Embark Beyond, calls Albany Club, “This elite new hideaway.” He tells me it “hosts some of the world’s hottest celebrity estates tucked between the bay and azure sea, with a select few residences and room for lucky guests who want to hobnob in a totally chilled ambiance.”
Forbes calls it “one of the world’s most exclusive resort communities.” Albany house is a “candy pink manor” featured in Bond’s Casino Royale. There’s no online booking, and the website doesn’t even provide details on accommodations. You have to request them.
Options include various estate residences as well as low rise buildings, with units ranging from $5 million to buy, each including private pools. It was created by British billionaire Joe Lewis along with Tiger Woods, Ernie Els (who designed its golf course), and Justin Timberlake.
Ezon says while much of the attention these days has focused on the newer Baha Mar development and outer islands, Atlantis is still a place you have to go at least once.
Travel + Leisure adds, “The hulking, coral-pink fantasy castle of the Bahamas’ only megaresort is visible from miles away (by land or sea); the towers don’t just dominate the Bahamian skyline, they are the skyline.” It notes the scale with over 2,300 guest rooms, casino, a marina filled, nearly restaurants and bars, and a 63-acre waterpark.
Ezon calls The Cove “an exclusive adult-only experience” and a “haven of luxury” within the huge Atlantis complex. You’ll be in the mood as soon as you arrive at its modern, open on the sided lobby framed by a hallway of massive columns, stone, dark and light woods. Fine dining highlights include Nobu, Fish by Jose Andres, Olives by Todd English, Casa D’Angelo, Seafire Steakhouse and more.
The 4,830 sq. ft. Three Bedroom Penthouse Suite is on the Club Level offering full concierge services with lots of living space and amazing high-rise views.
The 4,070 sq. ft Two Bedroom Penthouse Suite like its slightly larger cousin has separate living and dining areas, making it perfect for friends and family as a gathering place, including a great place to party or relax.
If you are looking for a family-friendly option, but still want luxury, Ezon says, “The Reefs is our favorite for families, with its hotel-within-a-hotel concept and the large one, two, and three-bedroom apartment-style units.”
Ranging from 2,994-3,102 sq. ft, along with butler service, there are two separate master bedrooms with king bed and sitting area. There’s also a private wrap-around terrace with ocean views. Master baths feature an infinity tub and separate shower.
A fully equipped modern kitchen can be stocked with your fast favorites and the dining area enhance the family experience. There’s even a washer and dryer to give that swimwear a quick end of the day rinse. There’s also access to the Cove Pool.
Bahia Mar has quickly made a name for itself with its extensive amenities from spa to golf, extensive dining options and diverse accommodations featuring resorts from Rosewood, SLS and Grand Hyatt with both traditional suites and villa options.
Laura Epstein, an Atlanta-based SmartFlyer advisor told me, “I just had clients at Baha Mar this week and all is fine and the Nassau airport is fully operational.
Addie Bell, a Las Vegas-based SmartFlyer advisor says, “The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar is Great for families, and couples or groups of friends that want a more low-key atmosphere and a comfortable feel. The rooms have a modern tropical feel with local art, here I love the Reserve level which is considered the luxury wing of the hotel.
Next door, The SLS Baha Mar is perfect for the hip, trendy couples that want a little more of the party vibe and feel. It’s also great for bachelorette parties, birthdays and groups of friends traveling together. With day beds in the water and bottle service at the Privilege Pool, the SLS Baha Mar certainly has that NY/Miami/LA vibes.”
Ezon says, “We love Baha Mar as an idyllic quick escape that literally has something for everyone. From its incredible artist in residence atelier with over 2,500 original pieces to its sprawling casino and a host of culinary arts that surpasses anything in the islands.”
Limor Decter, an advisor with Ovation Travel Group says, “Each hotel within the Baha Mar resort caters to a distinct clientele with its own vibes. The Grand Hyatt is ideal for families or multi-generations, while the cosmopolitan chic SLS is a great option for millennials or couples, friends getaways, and bachelor and bachelorette parties with their own sexy vibe. The Rosewood has captured a sense of place as the hotel is elegant and refined. It feels the most Bahamian in spirit and décor.”
Decter adds, “The beachfront complex truly offers something for everyone with its lodging, dining, shopping and entertainment options, as well as an array of water sports. It is designed so that clients stay on-premise during their visit and enjoy the property, including an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus, designed golf course, tennis and racquet courts, a nature sanctuary with flamingos and a kids club. With nearly 40 dining and nightlife options, it is certainly a game-changer in the Caribbean. The casino is gigantic and it is the artery that connects all three hotels.”
April Schmitt, CEO of Divine Destination Weddings & Honeymoons says, “The resort provides lush serenity among an island bustling with excitement. My honeymoon clients enjoy being close to the happenings on the island while having a romantic high-touch experience on property.
She says, “The spacious villas are perfect for an intimate destination wedding and multi-generational groups. The butler service and attention to fine details are present even in the entry-level categories. I love this resort because it is a true Bahamian escape but still close it all.”
Ovation’s Decter lauds, “the local colonial furnishings” and “fantastic local art collections, four-poster mahogany beds, and many hand-woven Bahamian straw or rattan accents.” She says, “I loved the custom murals depicting the island painted by a local artist in shades of green, blues, grays and charcoal.” She’s also a fan of the spa.
SmartFlyer’s Bell says for festive the Rosewood Baha Mar still have 60% availability left, including suites. She notes, “They do not require a 7-night minimum, which is quite rare, and guests also receive a 4th night free up till December 15th.”
Decter likes, “the choice of beachfront villas with private butler and plunge pools.” The 6,200 sq. ft. Ocean Front Six-Bedroom Villa is on Cable Beach with direct access to the white sand. There are an outdoor grill and dining area with two separate houses connected by the outdoor deck. Each contains a master bedroom with a king-size bed, a second king bedroom, and a third single queen bedroom.
Separate living and dining rooms and full kitchens feature floor-to-ceiling windows. All bedrooms feature ensuite bathrooms while the master king bedrooms feature a large terrace overlooking the resort gardens and beach.
Located on the 11th floor, the three-bedroom, 2,668 sq. ft. Penthouse Suite is the resort’s most spacious suite. Surrounded by tropical landscaping, the suite’s exceptional 3,824 sq. ft. of outdoor living space unfolds across an expansive private deck, complete with a plunge pool, fire pit, and multiple seating areas and loungers positioned to take in views of the ocean. Indoors, a separate living room and dining area create a residential environment, while bedrooms each feature en suite bathrooms.
Located on the 9th floor, The Rosewood Suite consists of 1,940 square feet including an oversized living room, a dining room, and full kitchen equipped with a sink, four-burner stove, full-sized refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher for chef-prepared dinners. There is presents 1,000 sq. ft. of outdoor living space with a plunge pool, multiple seating areas and loungers positioned to take in panoramic views of the sea.
Located on floors six through nine the 2,668 sq. ft. Ocean View Grand Three-Bedroom Suites are for families. Bahamian art and decor run throughout, and there is plenty of space including a large living room/dining area and full kitchen.
A master bedroom and connecting studio suite each feature a king bed while the connecting deluxe room includes two queen beds. The suite’s combined three full marble bathrooms all feature double vanities, a separate shower, and an oversized soaking tub. The three large balconies provide furnished living spaces with views of the ocean.
Located on the 8th through 11th floors, The 1,940 sq. ft. Ocean View Grand Two-Bedroom Suite offers the same living, dining, kitchen area as its larger cousins and offers two expansive balconies with partial ocean views.
Smart Flyer’s Bell tells me, “The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar is great with a capital G for families, and couples or groups of friends that want a more low-key atmosphere and a comfortable feel.” She says, “The rooms have a modern tropical feel with local art,” and adds, “I love the Reserve level which is considered the luxury wing of the hotel.”
April Farmer, a luxury travel specialist in Connoisseur Travel’s Lynchburg Va., offices, also recommends Grand Hyatt Baha Mar as a venue that can “please everyone as they offer great golf and tennis facilities, six pools, water sports to keep all family members happy and a beautiful wildlife sanctuary.”
The 2,330 sq. ft. 2-Bedroom Ocean View Suite Monaco comes with two king beds, a balcony overlooking Cable Beach, a wet bar, and a billiards table. This space is located in The Reserve, which includes a dedicated entrance, 24-hour butler services, and exclusive amenities. It’s perfect if you travel with teenagers or adult children and want to create a central place for the entire family to hang.
The 1,926 sq. ft. 2-Bedroom Poolside Villas gives direct pool access, two and a half baths, a washer/dryer, a full kitchen, and two bedrooms each with one king bed. It is also located in The Reserve.
SmartFlyer’s Bell says, “The SLS Baha Mar is perfect for the hip, trendy couples that want a little more of the party vibe and feel.”
Deborah Gellis of Ovation Travel Group adds The Privilege Pool at SLS is geared to singles and younger crowds, whereas the main SLS pool has more to offer for family and children.” She says, “The children can swim with fish and into caves.”
The 1,432 sq. ft. Ocean View Two-Bedroom Residence includes ensuite bedrooms, one with king bed and the other with two queens. There are step-out balconies to take in the view and the large living room includes a 55″ HD TV and kitchenette.
The 1,790 sq. ft. Two-Bedroom SLS Residence includes ensuite bedrooms, one with a king and the second with two queen beds. Advisors say the ocean views are “breathtaking” and the full balconies and two living areas, each with 55″ HD TVs mean you can have two party areas, and of course there is a kitchenette slash bar area.
This classic Ocean Club is now under the management of Four Seasons and after extensive renovations, Embark Beyond’s Ezon’s says, “This dreamy enclave is the ultimate getaway for people that want secluded sophistication with access to nightlife available just next door at the Atlantis.”
He adds, “Set on almost a mile long beach for just 100 rooms, the Four Seasons’ spa is among the best on the island and its signature Versailles gardens are one of my personal favorite places to get inspired in the world.”
SmartFlyer’s Cohen says, “The Ocean Club has always been a favorite for our family groups. Their cottages are great for extra space and families love the access to the Atlantis waterpark with the ability to come home to the quiet oasis of the Ocean Club.”
Amy Furie, of New Act Travel in Los Angeles, tells me, “The best part of this resort is the villa product.” She says families love the dolphin experience at Atlantis.
With a 24-hour service team, gated garden courtyard with jetted tub and patio dining, an oceanfront infinity pool, and private beach access, the 4,801 sq. ft. Hibiscus Four Bedroom Villa Residence is an ideal retreat for both groups of friends or families. There are three kings and the fourth bedroom features two queens. There is space for two roll-aways, so you can accommodate up to 10 guests, including six children.
For couples traveling together, Hibiscus also works well with three master bathrooms, each with tub-side windows, an indoor/outdoor shower, and private sundeck.
The 4,445 sq. ft. Three Bedroom Residence is located in a secluded beachfront setting with its own private infinity pool. Vaulted ceilings, rich woods, and polished marble floors provide an upscale feel, while the full kitchen is ideal for hosting private dinners.
The 860 sq. ft. Garden Cottages are nestled within tropical foliage and perfect for couples for a family retreat with two bedrooms Two master bedrooms open to the living and dining area. French doors open to an enclosed courtyard with plunge pool.
In the capital city of the Bahamas, you’ll find my personal pick, Graycliff, a historic hotel atop what Wine Spectator has described as “one of the great wine cellars of the world.”
The magazine calls the hotel “an elegant oasis in a charming old neighborhood, with a restaurant serving 3,000 selections from a 250,000-bottle cellar.” It has earned the bible of oenophile’s Grand Award since 1988.
According to people who know much more about wine than I do, its strengths are its Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy (especially Tuscany), California. The magazine adds, “Bucket-list verticals include Château d’Yquem back to 1928, Pétrus back to 1964 and Château Latour back to 1904. Chef Elijah Bowe’s Bahamian cuisine is infused with French influences for a creative twist on traditional dishes.”
USA Today’s 10 Best Restaurants in the Caribbean says it is “a five-star dining establishment serving Continental cuisine with a Bahamian twist. The dining experience feels like you are settling into an intimate dinner party with friends at their historic, colonial-style mansion – that just so happens to house an award-winning wine cellar.” If you don’t stay at Graycliff – it’s a must for dining – and you can take over the wine cellar for a private dinner (pictured above).