By Denise Mattia
GOOD EATS AND SWEET DIGS
For the honeymoon couple or a small group of guests a multi-course culinary extravaganza can be arranged in the world-famous wine cellar at the historic Graycliff Hotel, where 250,000 bottles of wine from 15 countries are stored. The resort has four main dining rooms suitable for banquets, and an outdoor area as well. The lunch menu at Graycliff is a fusion of Bahamian and Continental cuisine and is paired with wines to complement the courses. I had freshly caught Calamari in a salad that was mildly spiced. The pasta was “al dente” and the sauce on the fresh, Francaise-style fish was silky smooth and slightly piquant.
There are 20 individually styled rooms and bungalows on the tranquil grounds, where it’s possible to glimpse the ghost of the notorious pirate and original owner, Captain John Howard Graycliff. Other earthly features include swimming pools, a Jacuzzi and sauna, a decadent chocolate factory and the Graycliff Cigar Company, which was founded by the Garzaroli Family, proprietors of the resort since 1973.
Dinner at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s chic Dune, located seaside at the glorious One&Only Ocean Club is another culinary experience. Here, the inspirations are French-Asian and Bahamian. I ordered two appetizers: the fragrant and raw salmon sashimi with chipotle mayonnaise and crispy rice, and tender ribbons of tuna, crushed avocado and spicy radish in a ginger marinade. The restaurant is suitable for wedding parties as well, which take place among classical sculptures at the enchanted Versailles-inspired garden. The secluded, elegant 105-room luxury estate was owned by Huntington Hartford II and more recently by Access Industries, which also acquired additional beachfront property for future development.
In addition to exclusive private rates for MeliáRewards members, including a free night for members’ birthdays, the updated Meliá Nassau Beach hotel (melia.com) will offer an all-inclusive package by early 2015 and 24/7 room service. International and regional cuisine is offered in the six restaurants, and the lobby bar provides guests with drinks and snacks. Located on Cable Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the resort provides 694 rooms and 32 suites, with views that face the sea or the pool. There’s also a connection to the forthcoming newest resort, Baha Mar.
READY OR NOT?
Scheduled to open in December is the 1,000-room Baha Mar Hotel and Las Vegas-style Casino. The resort will feature 200,000 square feet of convention facilities, a 2,000-seat Performing Arts Center and an Art Gallery featuring Bahamian art, in addition to an 18-hole, 72-par championship Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Guests will be able to access the Grand Hyatt, SLS and the Rosewood hotels via Baha Mar’s 20-acre beach.
After last year’s $17.5 million renovation, the former Manor Building at the Sandals Royal Bahamian was renamed The Balmoral Tower. Recently completed is the Windsor Building, with 174 refurbished junior suites. Added to the resort, which continues to serve the best buffet dinner on the island, are a Zen Garden and the Crystal Lagoon Swim-Up Suites. Scuba and snorkeling trips can be arranged from here.
DIVE, DIVE, DIVE
Below, the seascapes are as exciting as Nassau/Paradise Island’s topside appeal. Divers float above reefs studded with the ghosts of sunken ships, which lie eerily in the depths (the Bahamas sit squarely in the Bermuda Triangle). Turtles, rays and reef sharks, the denizens of the deep, cruise lazily by, while lobsters, moray eels and schools of fish take shelter in the ships’ crumbling hulls.
Finding shelter on land wasn’t difficult. Comfort Suites is an all-suite Bahamas hotel, featuring 229 newly renovated junior suites, free wireless internet access and American buffet breakfast daily. Additionally, guests receive free access to Atlantis’ attractions, including Aquaventure.
Aquaventure at Atlantis, Paradise Island is an awesome 140-acre waterscape. Containing seven-million gallons of water, guests experience slides, a mile-long river ride with high intensity rapids and wave surges, 13 pools, a life-size replica of a Mayan Temple, a 7-acre snorkeling lagoon and a lazy river. Special effects add a new level of excitement to the Aquaventure experience.
I dined at the new Olives Atlantis, which features chef Todd English’s Mediterranean cuisine, but my entree was a disappointment. The polenta with chicken was served lukewarm and gluey and tough upon its return heat-up from the kitchen. The flatbread pizza, however were quite good as were the desserts.
Conversely, Twin Brothers Seafood and Steakhouse in Nassau’s town serves very fresh, delicious snapper or burgers and steaks with fries. The menu is reasonable and extensive and is enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
Harbor side, Paraiso By Warwick is scheduled to open their doors in 2015 to a 246-4-star resort with 4-star all-inclusive dining options: a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, three a la carte restaurants, serving Asian, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and the pool-pizza and lobby bar.
Whether a long weekend or a hop holiday to other Bahamian islands, Nassau/Paradise Island is easily accessed via airlift from the east coast of the U.S., and customs’ clearance make these islands an ideal vacation spot.
About Denise Mattia
A writer and photographer, Denise Mattia’s works are published nationally and internationally and include all aspects of leisure travel: art , culture, resorts, spas, food and wine and sports’ activities. She's the founder of the soon to be launched Yum-Yum-Traveler, a site devoted to reviewing restaurants in addition to her travel articles from around the world. She lives and works in Manhattan, where she was born.