When the temperatures go south, so should you. One layover and a hotel reservation stand between you and 1,000 acres’ worth of Vitamin D to soak up at Baha Mar, the decade-in-a-making Nassau resort that debuted last spring, boasting 1,800 rooms and suites across two towers of the Grand Hyatt, in addition to the just-opened SLS for nightlife lovers and the soon-to-open uber-luxe Rosewood.
The main agenda: Wander your way to the beach. But do make a pit stop at the hot-pink El Jefe Airstream for a tater-tot-stuffed breakfast burrito you can top with one of the hot sauces from a crowded tray, before hunkering down along the nearly milelong stretch of private shoreline. The turquoise water is filled with a volleyball net, floating hammocks and vacationers zipping around on complimentary paddleboards, clear-bottom kayaks as well as snorkeling adventures through a manmade reef that’s attracted blue tangs, bar jacks, barracuda and grouper. When you work up an appetite, you don’t have to venture far from the sand to track down lunch at the pineapple-
esque food truck that offers gourmet hot dogs, or grab a seat at the Conch Shack to watch a chef pluck the critter from a tank before it’s prepared in front of you with onion, peppers and citrus.
For a change of scenery, hop from a round daybed in the middle of the Elixir pool to a rain cabana or a chair set in shallow water at the Drift pool. Find privacy at Elixir or fun at Dean’s Blue Hole, which, modeled after the diving attraction 250 miles away, sports 8- and 15-foot ledges to jump from, plus a grotto with a sea creature-filled aquarium—and we’re still leaving out a few.
If swimming up to pool bars doesn’t count as exercise in your book, the fitness center offers core-centric classes, barefoot bootcamps and yoga. To get your sweat sesh outdoors, book one of the Racquet Club’s many courts, including the only grass surface you’ll find at a Bahamas resort—or opt for private lessons or daily walk-in drills. Should you prefer a little booze with your physical activity, the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course serves a spiked lemonade water bottle at the 12th hole—and you may need that dose of liquid courage to take on the 16th: a downhill shot over Lake Cunningham onto a green peninsula. (If you miss it, come back tomorrow—the tees vary up to 100 yards from day to day to keep guests on their toes.)
With more than 20 bars and restaurants, you have a choice of watering holes for pre- or post-dinner drinks. There’s the Lynden, whose bar is in the footprint of its namesake former prime minister’s desk—nevermind that he wasn’t a drinker—and the Blue Note, where jazz musicians croon from an elevated stage behind the sleek bar lined with white-jacketed cocktail slingers. Get expert cigar and rum or whiskey pairings at T2, or settle down at Monkey Bar’s throng of architectural seating for a serious case of design envy.
Photo Credit: Tadeu Brunelli
Upscale dining options include the Philippe Starck-designed Katsuya, where sushi lovers can nosh on the L.A. chef’s signature crispy rice with spicy tuna and cook Wagyu beef at their table, and James Beard Award winner Michael Schwartz’s Fi’lia, where you can see them cut sprigs of fresh herbs to toss into the house olive oil. Tucked behind wooden doors, there’s 88 seats and 88 menu items at Shuang Ba, meaning double eights, a symbol of ultimate luck in Chinese culture. Dig into Peking duck and sip on baijiu cocktails—or get a taste of the strong spirit itself by ordering options like Moutai, the brand President Nixon swigged in ’72 as the first U.S. president to visit China.
Test your luck and walk onto the 100,000-square-foot casino floor, the largest in the Caribbean, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the ocean. Hedge your bets by grabbing a lesson from one of the pit bosses who can school you in everything from blackjack to baccarat, though if you’d rather open your wallet to do some shopping, there’s Rolex, Bulgari and plenty of other high-end boutiques to peruse. For some local flavor, pop into My Ocean for handmade soaps, ceramics and candles and then Tropic of Luxury, with a fully stocked limestone-walled Assouline library and goods from Bahamian-based designers, including straw bags and hats from Amanda Lindroth, kaftans made by Jeannie McQueeny and jewels from Alex Fraga.
But if there’s one reason to leave the great outdoors, it’s to visit the art space, the Current, led by director John Cox, whose The Fifth Season greets guests at the West Tower’s check-in. The Nassau native, RISD grad and former chief curator of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas has amassed a collection of 2,500 and counting pieces by Bahamian artists that are scattered throughout the resort. Check out the Current’s monthlong mounted exhibitions and a schedule filled with workshops and other programming, such as figure drawing lessons and a 45-minute tour of the property that points out commissioned works. A roster of artists in residence spearheads some of the sessions, including Sue Katz. You can’t really blame the native Bostonian for living and working in the Bahamas. In fact, you would do well to follow her lead. ◆
Baha Mar, Baha Mar Blvd., Nassau, Bahamas (242-788-8000) bahamar.com
- – Dance the night away at Bond Nightclub, and then get some late-night (or early-morning) grub at the 24-hour Swimming Pig gastropub.
- – Something missing from your getaway? Baha Mar can arrange for off-site transportation.