By Elinor Garely
It is 7:15 PM in Nassau’s Paradise Island. The sky is a soft mix of gray and dusty blue, the sea is choppy with tiny white caps that shyly appear, and coyly disappear beneath the surface, edging closer and closer to shore…where they disappear. The breeze caresses the palm fronds that frame my terrace. The whispers of the trees and the screeches of the birds are momentarily interrupted by bursts of laughter from the nearby bar. A blue flag twirls and swirls in the distance, quickly ending its brief performance; now hanging limply in the space of the evening, waiting for yet another gust of wind to starts its dance once again.
By good fortune, I am invited to enter the part of Nassau that pulls guests back to an earlier, more generous and leisurely time, a historical moment when travelers selected The Bahamas as a holiday destination because they wanted to experience the calm and gentle beauty of this gracious country – located close enough to be a sister, but exotic enough to lure the traveler away from the sameness of the suburban/urban commute and weekend barbeque.
Getting to Nassau
Jet Blue brings East Coast travelers to the Bahamian shores in 2.5 comfortable hours. With spacious leather seats, a pleasant staff, a Diet Coke, a bag of chips, and a good book, the time from the sultry air of New York to the sunny beaches of Paradise Island passes very quickly. Before I can get bored or cranky, I am ushered into the Nassau Airport, gently guided by well-groomed, efficient and professional employees who appear to be genuinely delighted to have tourists in their country. The trail from the airline to immigration, luggage to land transport is thankfully quick, for my goal is to find an iced Bacardi and a pool before another hour has passed.
The Other Side of Paradise
Although South African born Sol Kerzner and his son Butch have poured mega-billions into developing and expanding the sequins and feathers Vegas-style holiday for visitors who want to gamble and party, the “other” Nassau/Paradise Island still exists. Appropriately known as the Small Treasures – this group of hotels and gourmet restaurants are the jewel in The Bahamas crown.
Small Treasures= Large Pleasures
There are certain wants/needs of guests who select one of the six properties that compose Small Treasures properties as destination hotel in The Bahamas.
- Small and intimate. To be a member of the Small Treasures you must be small – less than 100 rooms.
- Strict code of conduct. Inspected to meet the high standards of The Bahamas Small Hotel Committee, from service and ambiance to dining – the highest standards of excellence are designed to create a warm and personalized holiday for guests
- Attention to detail. From fresh lemonade served icy cold on the porch, to the aroma a freshly cut flowers on your window-sill, the smallest wish of the guest is considered and provided
- Gourmet dining. A holiday is more than a hotel and a pool. Recognizing that people travel on their stomachs, the Small Treasures provide gourmet dining in cozy and relaxing settings, from waterside yachts, to intimate gardens, each dining moment in woven into the fabric of the vacation experience.
There are six distinctive properties to choose from:
Graycliff has carved a unique place for itself in the international hotel industry. With only 20 elegantly appointed air-conditioned rooms, this small very up-market property is the hotel of choice for the rich (famous and infamous).
You can only imagine the waiting list of celebrities and tycoons vying for a reservation at this resort that holds the only 5-star dining award in the Caribbean. If the hotel is fully booked, don’t hang up the telephone before making a luncheon or dinner reservation. The chef provides a cuisine that is equal to or better than New York or Chicago’s finest. With over 250,000 bottles of wine in one of the world’s largest wine cellars, it is no surprise that this property won the Wine Spectator Grand Award in 1988.
The hotel also features hand rolled cigars and a separate dining room that encourages indulgences. The Humidor Churrascaria is located at the Graycliff Cigar Company and the Brazilian menu sends meat lovers to nirvana. Cigars and cognac conclude this endless food fiesta.
Graycliffs’ is a dress-up affair, and being “seen” is one of the many reasons that anyone is who “someone” wants to wine and dine here. Leave the shorts and bare feet for the beach. This is a time to bring out the summer Prada and Gucci.
Paradise Harbor Club and Marina
Picture the solitude of the waterfront, the yachts docked, the sun rising – presenting another brilliant day; and there you are, sitting on your shaded terrace, with your first cup of coffee, contemplating a few laps in the pool, a short jitney ride to the beach, or a day of shopping at Nassau’s duty free shops. Yes, you are in Paradise!
With 17 spacious apartment-style accommodations that sleep between two and six people, you and your favorite others can step back to experience an original Paradise Island resort. Each apartment faces the harbor, provides large balconies and terraces, private baths, air conditioning, kitchenettes and cable TV. Your 180 ft yacht can be accommodated at the 22 – slip marina. Dining wishes are met at the Columbus Tavern, where gourmet and Bahamian are lovingly married. Even foodies will be enchanted with the excellent kitchen and superb service.
Bay View Village
This property carries guests to another time and place…one that encourages daydreaming, the reading of a good book, and a long loving conversation with your nearest and dearest. The landscaped grounds of the Village motivate guests to take morning and evening strolls or play a few sets of tennis with neighbors. With 75 low-rise condo units, three freshwater swimming pools, a pool bar and gourmet restaurant, the stress of urban living is quickly forgotten. The warmth of the sun brings out the finest in Village guests, making for a very social atmosphere. Accommodations include areas for sleeping, dining and living, and open patios or balconies for entertaining. The beach is within walking distance, and a convenience store is on-premises – so a car is not a necessity at this tasteful and charming destination resort.
Orange Hill Beach Inn
Virtually a home for scuba divers and others sports enthusiasts, Orange Hill is very casual, and if you show up for dinner with shoes on – the other guests will think you are going out on the town. A Bahamian gourmet kitchen provides guests with lively conversation – “What is the secret ingredient in the steamed lamb?” “Why can’t I resist the Johnny Cake?” Guests who spend their day fishing and catch something large enough to keep can create their own dinner with the help of the staff.
Each of the 32 rooms has a private bath, AC, and satellite TV. Rooms with kitchens can be reserved.
Dillet’s Guest House, B&B
Stepping back in time is easy for Dillet’s guests, for the very building they are sleeping in dates back to the turn of the last century. Known for its Bahamian style continental breakfasts and afternoon tea, including the formal British style high tea, Dillet’s passion is to be understated and informal. Talk, read, doze in a hammock, walk the property, go and come as you wish. This is your home, and the folks are family.
Many guests are so taken with Dillet’s that they sign up for cooking classes, as well as informal instructions for the soca and calypso.
The Red Carpet Inn
Spend your days on the beach, tool around the town on your motorcycle, shop duty-free and then head to the casinos for Bahamian night life. When you are truly too pooped to pop – head for your comfortable and very affordable retreat at the Red Carpet Inn.
The Bahamas – Going Forward
With Bahamian-born Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace as the new Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Bahamas is likely to become an even more important destination for meetings and conventions, as well as incentive travel options. We hope that the Small Treasures will be included in every planner’s itinerary of what Nassau and Paradise can offer the traveler who seeks authenticity in their holiday destination choice.
Small Treasures Resorts – Nassau/Paradise Island, Bahamas
- Bay View Village PO Box SS 6308 Nassau, Bahamas firstname.lastname@example.org www.bayviewvillage.com 242 363 2555
- Dillet’s Guest House, B&B PO Box N 204 Dunmore Avenue and Strachan Street Chippingham, Nassau, Bahamas email@example.com www.islandeaze.com 242 325 1133
- Graycliff Hotel West Hill Street Nassau, Bahamas firstname.lastname@example.org www.graycliff.com 242 302 9150
- Orange Hill Beach Inn PO Box B8583 Nassau, Bahamas email@example.com www.orangehill.com 242 327 7157
- Paradise Harbour Club & Marina Box SS-5804 Paradise Island, Bahamas firstname.lastname@example.org www.phc-bahamas.com 242 363-2992
- Red Carpet Inn Point Pleasant, East Bay Street at Windermere Nassau, Bahamas email@example.com www.redcarpetinnbahamas.com 242 393-7981/8691