They could be dashes of powdered sugar, delicately sprinkled in a grand sweep to divide the shallow, sky-blue waters of the Straits of Florida from the deep, dark Atlantic. Once the haven for disgruntled British loyalists after the American War of Independence, Blackbeard and rum runners, the over-700 islands of the Bahamas have now settled into the more prosaic role of one of the most popular tourist destinations on the North American continent, enticing winter-weary travelers with average yearly temperatures hovering in the 80s. But as the world has long since discovered the Bahamas as an Eden stand-in, trying to not meet even more vacationers can be something of a decidedly un-vacation-like challenge.
And that’s where the Ritz Carlton Abaco Club on Grand Abaco steps in.
Away from the McTourist meccas of Nassau and Freeport – no offense, really – the Abacos Islands (the afore-mentioned Grand Abaco is the largest), at the northeastern flank of the Bahamian archipelago, offer up some of the best get-away-from-it-all-ism that discerning travelers seek. This more-removed subset of isles, part of the aptly named Out Islands, provide a more elegant pace, an elegance the Ritz-Carlton characteristically kicks into hyperdrive.
Set on a secluded 534-acre oceanfront estate at Winding Bay, on Grand Abaco’s southern reaches, travelers are enshrined in a series of private residences, cabanas and cottages, so lavishly appointed under the most exacting of standards that no matter where one finds themselves, nothing shall be lacking. But for those whose bliss mode is permanently set to maximum, the mini-manors that are the four-bedroom cottages are the jewel in the crown.
Graced with vaulted ceilings and airy, open interiors, luxurious Italian linens, optional personal chef (if the two world-class eateries serving up brilliant Caribbean fair doesn’t do it for you), and a spacious veranda overlooking what is widely acknowledged as one of the most spectacular seascapes on the planet, visitors can let warm Gulf Stream breezes and billowing tropical flora wash away all of winter’s grim grays. And while the view certainly deserves attention, the centerpiece of the property is a private 18-hole golf course designed by Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie, the world’s first Scottish-style links in a tropical location. The par 72 championship layout blends seamlessly with the island surroundings, playing to a length of 7,183 yards. There are lessons, of course, for newbies still getting their heads around chasing little white balls.
And that is just what is available for land-lubbers; an abundance of water activities await. Experience an exciting deep-sea fishing adventure, snorkel among vibrant reefs, or ride on a windsurfer or Hobie Cat – the Abacos are, in fact, heralded as “the sailing capital of the world.”
But before you pack your bags, know this: The resort is a part of the hotel empire’s hyper-rarefied Ritz-Carlton Club Collection, part of a larger timeshare program the Ritz-Carlton employs to swaddle travelers in across-the-board luxury and exclusivity. From the mountain fastness of Colorado to the gently lapping waves of tropical seas, members enjoy private access to 10 posh locations in the United States and the Caribbean. To really send it home, the Abaco Club is billed as just that; a “club,” rather than a “hotel.”
Not part of the in-crowd? Well, there’s always Atlantis…