Soaring past the past five million mark, arrivals to the Bahamas hit a high note in 2010 with this year looking just as rosy. Whether it’s Nassau and Paradise Island, Abaco Islands, Exuma Islands or Harbour Island, a holiday is, indeed, better in the Bahamas. A quick forty-five minute flight from Miami or three hours from New York City, the Bahamas are the perennial favourite of eternal romantics who covet an evening under the stars or an active day on the water. From Blackbeard and white beaches to glorious sunsets and spirited casinos, there is something for everyone on more than 700 islands and 2,000 cays.
Sitting pretty in the heart of Cable Beach, Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino is one-stop shopping for an amorous getaway. With the tallest tower on Cable Beach, the 559 rooms including thirty six penthouse suites marry island ambience with modern amenities. Wall-to-wall sliding glass doors welcome the ocean breeze while private balconies overlooking the Atlantic Ocean are ideal for a sunrise breakfast or an après dinner nightcap. “Weddings are an important niche market for us” says Joe Eustice, general manager, “our team of planners organize everything from the music, food and photos to a bonfire on the beach.”
Nine restaurants and lounges, a pool with humongous rock formations, seawater swimming lagoon, snorkelling, parasailing and kayaking tempt during the day while the Crystal Palace Casino with four hundred slot machines, forty table games and the area’s only sports book is inviting when the sun sets. “Lovebirds like to tempt Lady Luck with a pull at a slot machine or a good hand at a table,” smiles Arnold Cargill, casino shift manager as he teaches the fine art of blackjack to tourists from Miami.
Hovering over the kitchen like he’s cooking for royalty, executive Chef Stephen Quigg has more than a quarter century of experience under his white apron. Fresh from a stint at Sandals Whitehouse in Jamaica, this gastronomic whirling dervish creates unique menus that blend Asian, Italian, French, Caribbean and American flavors. A graduate of Toronto’s George Brown College; Chef Stephen honed his culinary skills in Bermuda at The Reefs Resort and Wyndham Bermuda Resort.
Not for the faint of appetite, Black Angus Grille with its signature selection of steaks, prime rib and delectable sides are worth the splurge. A treasure trove for the taste buds, blackened conch is big enough to share and too good to miss. Caesar salad made fresh at the table is not to be missed and for special occasions, ask for Chef Tiffany to whip up one of her sinfully sweet chocolate soufflés. “For the garlic in the salad, a bowl of strawberries and whipped cream is the perfect remedy,” advises Chef Tiffany who recommends “honeymooners book a private dinner table right on the beach .”
For breakfast, the SeaSide buffet is flip-flop friendly and chock-a-block with American specialities and Bahamian dishes like Souse and Johnny cakes. For a light snack, Eat, Live Refresh is ideal for lighter appetites and the best coffee this side of Manhattan.
Conch in every shape and size is delectable at the sea view Tiki Hut and with a menu guaranteed to please; lunch is a fine affair with a burger to a grouper salad. For a fruity daiquiri, Da Daq Shaq is the must-try on the beach. Ask bartender Keith Farrington to shake (or stir) an extra potent daiquiri par excellence. At ‘22 Above’, aptly named for its locale high above the casino, a watermelon martini is heavenly while for those wanting to put a spring in their groovy gait, a local band entertains weekend nights at 9:30. www.wyndhamnassauresort.com. 1-800-WYNDHAM
The Big Blue
For a day on the open water, Stuart Cove’s is the go-to-spot for snorkelling tours, diving and waters skiing. Experienced guides take guests on sunny excursions departing from the movie-famous dock that was built for the film Flipper which was filmed there in 1996. “Exploring the ocean is my passion,” instructor Ida Stjernstrom tells an eager boatload of tourists, “once you see the tropical fish and the sharks, you’ll be hooked just like I am. “
Sailing to the picturesque cays with stops to dive overboard, a day on the boat is what morphs a great vacation into a grand vacation. “My favorite reef is Little Elvis,” explains Ullin Saunders, instructor, “an amazing array of parrot fish, blue tangs and even fire coral are waiting for us to join them.” Sailing past swanky Lyford Cay where Sean Connery has a home, instructor Ida says she has seen romance bloom on the boats. “We’ve had couples who marry underwater; they wear a mask with a microphone so they can say their vows or they sit fifty feet down on the ocean floor on a wreck called the Ray of Hope.” Stuart Cove’s has an office at the Wyndham Nassau to make booking weddings a breeze. www.stuartcove.com.