photo by Sandals Royal Bahamian
A tropical island escape can be ever so refreshing during the cold, gray, rainy seasons back home. My daughter and I found a new take on January blues with an easy trip to the Bahamas – a two-hour flight from Atlanta to Nassau, with toes in the sand by noon! Brilliant hues from sea to sky greeted us as we happily traded winter blahs for a warm, Bahamian island vibe.
Nassau is a lively island metropolis with elegant shopping, nightlife and culture, but it is also home to pristine beaches and dazzling resorts. Sandals Royal Bahamian is a standout for all-inclusive amenities and secluded beaches. From a smorgasbord of food, drink and activities to lazy lounging nooks, everything is at your fingertips beckoning you to enjoy. It was our first experience at an all-inclusive resort, and we easily slid into the “stay, play and indulge” mode.
The newly renovated Sandals resort comes with a delightful bonus – a small private island, Barefoot Cay, just a short boat ride from the resort pier. It’s a wonderful spot to spend the day swimming, snorkeling and napping in the shade of thatched umbrellas and in hammocks between the trees. Breezy beach cabanas are scattered about and some can be booked for massage therapy. Fresh seafood is the specialty at the island’s new “boat to table” restaurant, Aralia House, adjacent to a pleasant pool and whirlpool.
The addition of Aralia House on Barefoot Cay is one of Sandals’ many new amenities following a recent multimillion-dollar enhancement of the entire resort. The reimagined spaces feature lush landscapes and choice accommodations in pastel-hued villas and luxury Swim-up Suites. Two massive pools with swim-up bars are eye-catching focal points, loosely connected by an inviting new gathering spot called Coconut Grove. Activities and entertainment take place here – what’s on for the day may include sand volleyball, yoga on the lawn, live music and mini Cirque de Soleil-style exhibitions. Nearby, there is a piano bar, a penthouse state-of-the-art fitness center and Red Lane Spa. Two tennis courts, shuffleboard and several small pools are spread among the garden villas.
Excellent dining is a hallmark of the Sandals brand, as is the pampered guest experience. The resort boasts 10 restaurants offering a variety of cuisine and two innovative food trucks for snacks and casual fare. Top-tier suites come with the service of a personal butler trained by The Guild of Professional English Butlers, who will arrange for room service, deliver refreshments to the beach, assist with activity and restaurant bookings, and generally enhance your stay. And if you’ve booked a luxury suite, your airport transfers will likely be in a Rolls Royce.
What’s great about Sandals all-inclusive? The resort aims to be stress-free with no worries for guests. In addition to lodging, meals and beverages, the pricing package includes land and water sports, water taxis to Barefoot Cay, Wi-Fi, taxes and gratuities. (Tipping is allowed for butler service.) Guests enjoy unlimited experiences with paddleboards, kayaks, Hobie Cats, snorkeling and PADI® certified scuba diving. Unlimited bar service and trips to the food truck for cappachinos, crepes, and conch fritters certainly add a feeling of happy indulgence to the vacation experience. The signature island refreshments, Pina Colada and Dirty Banana are always flowing.
Extra excursions not included in the resort package, such as adventure tours to explore Nassau and beyond, can be booked with the outfitter Island Routes, located on resort property. We enjoyed a culinary tour in downtown Nassau with stops at Graycliff Chocolatier, a Cigar Company and Graycliff Mansion’s Wine Cellar, that was once a pirate dungeon and now said to be the world’s third largest private wine collection. Other excursions offered include a sunset catamaran cruise out of Nassau harbor, swimming with the pigs of Exuma, powerboat tours and more.
Sandals is an adults-only resort and a popular destination for honeymooners and couples on romantic retreats. Whether or not we were atypical guests, our small group of women (moms, daughters, an aunt and friend) found it a fun getaway for any combination of partners in travel. Sandals’ variety of options means something for everyone and suits a small group well – especially under the restorative powers of sun and sea.
Including the Royal Bahamian, Sandals has 17 all-inclusive resorts throughout the Caribbean in idyllic settings on Exuma, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Antigua, Grenada, Barbados and Curacao. Once you’ve visited one, you’ll want to explore others. https://www.sandals.com/royal-bahamian/
More on the Islands of the Bahamas
The Bahamas encompass 700 islands and cays in the Lucayan Archipelago, southeast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean, but only about 30 of the islands are inhabited. Long revered for unspoiled beauty and sport fishing, the islands were under British rule until 1973, when they became independent as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Nassau, on the island of New Providence, is the capital and the gateway to some of the less populated “Out Islands” that are havens for sailing, yachting, diving, snorkeling, fishing and serene beach life. https://www.bahamas.com/