After an amazing tour of the new Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport, we took the brief drive to the new Baha Mar development. As I mentioned in a prior installation, Baha Mar is a massive $3.5 billion development project which, when completed, will add nearly 25% capacity to Nassau’s lodging – all of it high-end. It seeks to compete not only with the “destination” resort on The Bahamas (Atlantis) but with the likes of Las Vegas.
The complex is a massive undertaking, with thousands of workers on-site and the majority of the project is financially backed by Chinese investors. Included in the development is a giant casino, high-end restaurants, a Jack Nicklaus golf course, and many other luxury touches.
BONUS: Part 1 of my trip to The Bahamas, which included the journey there and my amazing first night welcome.
Although getting a status update on the progress of the Baha Mar, I was also excited to get a tour of other must-see-things in Nassau.
Before checking out the rest of what the town has to offer, I got to tour through the very active Baha Mar construction site in an all-terrain vehicle, and the scale of the project was overwhelming. When it opens at the end of 2014, I think it is going to be quite the draw; thus the massive expansion and improvements at the Nassau Airport.
From one of the largest complexes in The Bahamas, to one of the smallest, we travelled to the Graycliff Hotel. Located in the center of historic downtown Nassau, the 20-room Graycliff is the only five-star hotel on the island and is also the oldest; the main building was constructed in 1740.
I walked around the main floor, which is filled with display cases of bottles of scotch worth more than my car. Along with a five-star restaurant, the Greycliff also has an amazing wine cellar, which is the third-largest private collection in the world. This, folks, is where you go for your honeymoon! I got to tour some of the rooms and they were all unique in their layout and decor.
While the hotel is extremely small and exclusive, there are two features that are open to the public as attractions – the cigar factory, and the chocolatier. The smells of these particular Greycliff shops were both fantastic in their own way. While I didn’t get to sample the cigars, I made up for it in the chocolate kitchen.
To complete the trinity of sinful delights, our next stop was the John Watling’s Rum Distillery, located in the Buena Vista Estate, a Bahamas landmark that has hosted guests such as Bobby Kennedy and the filming of Casino Royale with Daniel Craig (it was the faux Nambutu Embassy). To be honest, this felt like the most “touristy” thing that I did in The Bahamas; while the rum was tasty, the distillery felt like it was right out of Disneyland. Not really my style, but I could see many tourists getting a kick out of it.
After a long day of touring, we went to dinner at Arawak Cay, home of the “fish fry” block of restaurants serving fresh conch salad, Bahamian specialties, and lots of local fresh seafood. I had the spiny lobster, which is basically a lobster tail without the big claws. It was very tasty, especially with the local brew.
After a whirlwind two-day trip to Nassau, it was time for me to head home (again, on Air Tran, but this time via Atlanta). Back at Nassau International Airport, I had access to the Greycliff Lounge (yes, the same owners of the hotel also have some nice airport lounges, where they sell – you guessed it – cigars and chocolate).
The lounge was full of tv screens showing all the NFL games, so I kicked back and waited for my flight.
My AirTran flights were uneventful, albeit a little tight. It’s not like I play in the NBA – I’m only a sliver over six-feet-tall. After being squeezed in on the NAS-ATL leg, I paid to move to the exit row for ATL-DEN.
Overall, this trip was a nice introduction to everything The Bahamas has to offer. Nassau is extremely easy to get to from the U.S. and Canada; a direct flight from NYC is only about two-and-a-half hours, quicker than flying to Denver. The U.S. dollar is the unofficial currency, and the people are beyond friendly. If you’re looking for some sand and sun, put The Bahamas on your list; especially once Baha Mar opens up. I only wish that I had more than two days to explore.