On a direct flight, in just three hours, we arrived in The Bahamas—famous for its pristine beaches hugging the Atlantic Ocean’s turquoise waters. After a short scenic drive, we arrived at the Baha Mar enclave, consisting of three interconnected resorts, a casino, and an abundance of dining and entertainment options.
The resort handled COVID testing efficiently and effectively. Upon arrival, we were escorted to an onsite clinic where we completed forms and received a complimentary COVID-19 Rapid Antigen test before being whisked off to our room and asked to wait until we received our results. After approximately twenty minutes, we received “the green light,” and were off to explore Baha Mar.
We began on the east side, where we found the world-class Rosewood—a hotel awash in a serene coastal palate with a British colonial island aesthetic. The words that best describe this resort are tranquil, serene, and luxurious. We adored the Manor Bar on the first floor and the beautifully appointed conservatory.
On the enclave’s western end is the hip SLS resort with a spirit that encompasses a playfully mischievous vibe with a hint of sexy. The resort was envisioned as a tropical sanctuary for those who enjoy global culture and style, infusing a spirit of sensuality and glamour. Think upscale Miami Beach.
Topping SLS Baha Mar is Skybar, the island’s only rooftop bar and a venue with breathtaking views. From the line to get in, I would say it is also the island’s most popular weekend destination. With a sip of my elderflower martini surrounded by a crowd of the young and the beautiful, I was taken back to my youth, and in an instant, I understood Skybar’s allure.
Right in between the Rosewood and SLS is one big happening party at The Grand Hyatt. Also located in the middle of Baha Mar is the Caribbean’s largest casino, extensive high-end shopping (think Cartier, Rolex, and Tiffany & Co.), an endless number of restaurants and lounges, a massive fire fountain, and lots of fun.
Depending upon your mood or the basis of the trip (romantic getaway, girls weekend, family sojourn, or golf trip) Baha Mar has something to satisfy every taste, sensibility, and/or purpose.
One cannot conjure up an image of The Bahamas without visuals of crystal blue water. Baha Mar offers an epic variety of pools to choose from, each with a distinct energy—tranquil (the pools located near Rosewood), filled with family fun (near the Grand Hyatt), and hip (at SLS). We visited four locations and, of course, Cable beach. Our first day, after awakening from a deep slumber induced by the extensive tour of the Baha Mar property and a late night at Skybar, we headed to the gorgeous Bungalow pool at SLS and a private black and white striped cabana outfitted with couches and a television. It proved the perfect place for acclimation.
One spot that spoke to our inner child was the replica of the world’s second deepest known saltwater sinkhole, Dean’s Blue Hole. Here we leaped from a “cliff” about 20 times, snapping photos of our heroic feats. On another day, after a little siesta poolside at Fortune (the buzzing central pool deck surrounded by palms punctuating the circular movement of the pool’s edge), we spent the afternoon at Cable beach using a myriad of complimentary water sports equipment, including paddleboards and kayaks.
Beyond water activities, the resort is known as a culinary destination with the widest array of world-class restaurants, bars, and lounges in The Bahamas, designed to satisfy every craving, occasion, and mood.
Our first night, we dined at the French-inspired Café Boulud. The newest restaurant to Baha Mar offers the glamour of traditional French cuisine in a sophisticated Bahamian setting. Led by globally renowned chef Daniel Boulud, the menu is inspired by his four culinary muses—La Tradition, La Saison, Le Mer, and Le Voyage and highlights the seasonality of local ingredients. My husband began with an appetizer from Le Voyage (World Discovery), a divine yellowfin tuna carpaccio with harissa, crispy chickpeas, chayote, mint, and lemon confit. I started with the Vichyssoise from La Tradition (Classics & Country Cooking). The chef’s twist on this classic was a chilled avocado soup with shrimp, dill, caviar, and crème fraiche. I will never be able to enjoy the potato/leek version, as the chef’s take on the dish has forever spoiled me. We moved to La Saison (Spring flavors) for our entree of tender Maine Lobster with green asparagus and rice pilaf kissed with “sauce Americaine.” We accompanied the meal with a delicious 2018 Arnaud Lambert Clos de la Rue and topped our exquisite experience with a decadent Chocolate Coulant with a salted caramel interior and a luscious vanilla ice cream. C’est magnifique.
Our favorite lunch spot was Costa, the darling little restaurant of linked open-air cabanas, which rests over a Koi pond. Coastal cuisine infused with Mexican flavors offered an unexpected approach to traditional seafood. Musts are the guacamole served with house made chips and any one (or all) of the Ceviches. We sat here for hours enjoying the atmosphere and the movement of the gentle Koi beneath us. Depending upon your daily desires, the lunch possibilities range from white linens and crystal to fun beachside food trucks. The world is literally your oyster.
In the mood for sushi? Another dining hot spot is Katsuya. Rarely have we seen seabass presented to our liking, but Katsuya did it perfectly, and we both proclaimed it to be the best seabass of our lives. The roasted thick piece of Chilean Seabass is served with hints of ginger, soy, and coriander—pure perfection! We savored every bite in the Dragon Room surrounded by a painted serpent writhing up the walls and across the ceiling. The sleek and sultry ambiance envisioned by design icon Philippe Starck adds an element of exotic artistry to each bite. In a nutshell, Katsuya artfully blends master sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi’s fresh take on classic Japanese cuisine with the pulsating vibe of The Bahamas.
Our last evening we visited Cleo, located at SLS Baha Mar, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant with an energetic atmosphere. My husband and I both agreed that the Brussel sprouts were by far the best we had ever eaten. We have attempted to recreate the dish with little success but it lives on in memory. Dining on fresh Mediterranean small plates next to a vertical garden was the perfect culinary end to a delightful vacation.
We weren’t able to visit Carna, but it is top on our list for when we return. A sophisticated steakhouse born from the skill and passion of eighth-generation master butcher Dario Cecchini, Carna features some of the finest cuts of meat in the world. The wine list is extensive, and the atmosphere intimate. We look forward to it.
When it was time to feed our souls, we visited the Baha Mar spa, ESPA. My favorite treatment was the strength and resilience massage. Inspired by the arduous migration of the painted lady butterfly, this massage uses aromatherapeutic oils, yogic stretches, reflexology, a deep muscle massage, and a scalp massage. A fully embracive experience. I am dreaming of returning for a repeat (deuxieme fois)!
A must on your itinerary is the Baha Mar Racquet Club. Darling little walkways flanked by dense bushes on either side invoke the feeling of a labyrinth which ends at the charming club—aesthetically similar to the Rosewood. Boasting nine state-of-the-art tennis courts, six are professional hard courts, two Har-Tru clay, and one, the only grass court in the Caribbean. Jim Tressler, the club’s director, gave us a private lesson on one of the Har-Tru courts. We had such fun learning new skills on a beautiful day. Anytime the heat threatened to slow us down, the Bahamian breeze appeared perfectly on cue.
Another must is a visit to The Current Gallery. I had the great pleasure of spending the afternoon with Baha Mar’s Creative Arts Director John Cox. Cox’s position encompasses a seemingly endless array of duties. He spends most of his time at The Current, home to Baha Mar’s arts program and studio space designed to support local artists and promote Bahamian arts. He also oversees art installations all over Baha Mar. You will find art everywhere you look, in your room, the spa, reception, hallways, and restaurants. It is a visual feast just walking from your room to the pool. I, being an art lover, found Baha Mar’s collection captivating. The resort encourages guests to partake in tours and classes at The Current—one fan favorite is the sip and paint.
We are planning our return visit because it was almost impossible to take part in all that Baha Mar has to offer in less than a week. Next time, we plan to visit the Royal Blue Golf Course (an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Design course), the brand new Mini Blue Golf (an 18 hole mini golf course), Carna, and of course ESPA. Oh, and Katsuya for a repeat seabass. What an absolute delight to be traveling internationally again. Baha Mar is just a quick plane ride away and the resort has taken a great deal of COVID precautions. Your safe adventure awaits.
For more information or to book your stay, visit bahamar.com.